Going down as one of the best NHL goalies of all time isn't easy. Former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Kirk McLean once said, "It's pretty tough for a goalie when you look at it. You're always the last line of defense. If you let a goal in, you can't go to the bench and hide between the guys or anything." While goaltending alone does not win games or championships, it can be the difference between a win and an embarrassing loss. Certainly there has been some stellar goaltenders in the history of the NHL, but a select few stand above and beyond the rest.
Who are the greatest hockey goalies of all time? Which goalkeepers have the most impressive records? There are plenty of amazing goalkeepers on this list and without them, their teams would be in trouble. The old NHL adage is that you're only as good as your goalie. Without some of the guys on this list, their teams would be at the bottom of the league, or at minimum, just an average squad. Vote for the top NHL goalies ever. While you're at it, cast your votes for the best goalies in the NHL right now.
Representing one of many Czech goaltenders, Dominik Hasek arguably earned his nickname as "The Dominator" through strong play with the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators. Hasek set the bar for European goaltenders in the NHL, becoming the first European netminder to win the Stanley Cup and lead the league in goals against average.
Compared to goaltenders of any background, his numbers were not too shabby either, including still leading the record books with a .922 career save percentage. Oh yeah, he also won the Vezina Trophy six times, the Jennings Trophy three times and both the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award twice each.
The definition of a modern-day great goaltender, Martin Brodeur is not only a legend in New Jersey, where he's played for roughly two decades with the Devils, but around the world as well. Marty began his 19th season in the NHL in 2010 as the record holder of numerous league goaltending records.
Five Jennings Trophies, four Vezina Trophies, three Stanley Cup rings, two Olympic gold medals and a Calder Memorial Trophy are just a sampling of his accomplishments. As if that was not enough, Brodeur can also score. He's just one of two who have put the puck in the opposing net both in the regular season and in the playoffs.
Still active as a major-junior hockey coach, Patrick Roy's legacy rests on his stellar play with both the Montreal Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche between 1985 and 2003. Like other top goaltenders, Roy holds a handful of NHL records including for playoff games played, playoff wins, playoff shutouts and Conn Smythe Trophy wins, earning the nod as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs three times.
Though he's also remembered for perfecting the butterfly style of goaltending, Roy is also known for his physicality on and off the ice, fighting no less than two Detroit Red Wings netminders in the 1990s.
As one of only six players to have their jersey number retired by the Detroit Red Wings, Terry Sawchuck carried the Winged Wheel to three Stanley Cup championships in the 1950s and added a fourth with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1967. Though he played alongside the likes of Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe and Sid Abel, Sawchuk held his own in net.
His record of 103 shutouts stood in the NHL for nearly 40 years and he took home no less than four Vezina Trophies along the way. Many would go so far as to say "The Uke" is the best goaltender to ever play in the NHL, including The Hockey News, who ranked him as the top netminder in their 1998 list of the greatest hockey players.