We all know that throughout the history of the Detroit Red Wings, great men have worn the winged wheel between the pipes. Amazing saves have been made, and championships have been won with these goalies in the net for the Red Wings. These are the 5 greatest goaltenders in Red Wings history.
Honorable Mention – Jimmy Howard
Ok, I know many of you won’t agree with me on this one, but I do believe he belongs on the list. In only six full seasons, the current Red Wings netminder has 246 wins and is a three-time All-Star. Jimmy Howard has been solid for the Red Wings, starting for them these past six years. But many argue he cracks under pressure in the playoffs. Well, that is for you to decide. He deserves to be on this list because of the leadership he displays on and off the ice. We will see what he can do in the near future…if he is not traded!
#5 – Mike Vernon
Mike Vernon was only in Detroit for three seasons, but in those three seasons, he won a Conn Smythe and led the Wings to their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. He was acquired via trade in 1994 to help the Wings contend for the Cup. Vernon was solid in his three years with Detroit, winning 53 games and only losing 24. Vernon’s brightest spot for the Red Wings was in the 1997 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was flawless in the ’97 Cup run, being in the net for all 16 wins and winning his Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) in the process. After that season, the Wings had to put a goalie in the wavier draft, and they put Vernon in. He was picked up by the San Jose Sharks, ending his stint in Detroit. It makes you wonder what it would have been like in Detroit if Vernon had stayed.
#4 – Normie Smith
Normie Smith led the Red Wings to their first Stanley Cup in the 1935-36 season. He holds the record for most saves in an NHL game (with 92), and shut out the Montreal Maroons (now the Canadiens) in the longest NHL game ever. Smith also won a Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) in the 1936-37 season, but injured his elbow in Game 3 of the semi-finals of the playoffs, and couldn’t play in the Cup finals. Smith did the most of the dirty work to help the Wings win the Stanley Cup for a second consecutive year, but was never the same after his elbow injury. When Smith was the dominant goaltender, he was clutch. It is a shame that it was only for a short period of time.
#3 – Dominik Hasek
Dominik Hasek was considered to be one of the top netminders in the league at the time he came from the Buffalo Sabers via trade. Hasek led the Red Wings to their 10th Stanley Cup (2002) in his first season with the Wings on a talent-stacked team. He later announced his retirement after winning the Cup, only to come back out of retirement, and end up having two separate stints with Detroit. Hasek won 114 of the 176 games he played with Detroit (.648 win percentage), and was very instrumental in the Red Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup win. With a goalie like him, it was hard for anyone to get anything past the Red Wings and into the net.
#2 – Chris Osgood
Chris Osgood was a beast. In the 14 seasons Osgood played for Detroit, he was a huge part in helping the Red Wings win three Stanley Cups. Osgood had 401 career wins and had almost 17,000 saves in his career. After the 2000-2001 season, the Red Wings put him in the waiver draft, and he was picked up by the New York Islanders. In 2005, the Red Wings signed him as a free agent, and there was no looking back after that. Osgood split time with Dominik Hasek for the ’07-’08 season but was the man in net for all but two playoff games in the run for the Cup. “Ozzie” loved Detroit and belongs in the Hall of Fame. He had a heart for this city that is hard to find.
#1 – Terry Sawchuck
There is no doubt Terry Sawchuck isn’t just the number one Red Wings goaltender – he was arguably the greatest goaltender of all time. Sawchuck was a 4-time Vezina winner, had 447 career wins, and won 4 Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. Sawchuck wasn’t just a good goalie – he was tough. Sawchuck took a beating throughout his career, and when he wore a mask, it didn’t protect him much anyway. Sawchuck holds the record for most ties with 172 (which we know can’t be broken) and did hold the NHL record for most shutouts until 2009 when Martin Brodeur broke it. After finishing the 1969-70 season with the New York Rangers, he died from alcoholism and a bleeding liver. It was a shame to see that his life and career went downhill that quickly. Number 1 will forever hang in the rafters in Detroit, and he will forever be remembered as the best goalie the Red Wings have ever had in net.