Generally regarded as a journeyman goaltender who donned the pads for the Montreal Canadiens in the early 80s, he enjoyed a couple of solid years with the Blues and Flames, then finished up his career as a backup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Essentially an afterthought in the glorious goaltending history of the Montreal Canadiens.
I have used the handle Wamsley for over 5 years on the web. Not because I thought he was an All-Star, but because when the Canadiens first really impacted me as a fan their goaltender was a 22 year old kid named Rick Wamsley. I decided on the name because of the impact on me, and it was obscure enough that only fans of my generation or older would remember the reference.
Recently, I started to scour through the vault at SI and did a search for Wamsley. When I came across this story about the 1982 Canadiens.
"With a goals-against average of 2.75, the Canadiens are the only club in the league allowing fewer than three a game. Berry refuses to say so, but he seems to have settled on Wamsley as his No. 1 man. At week's end Wamsley had played in 19 of Montreal's last 24 games and his 2.63 goals-against average was second best in the NHL among goalies with 20 games or more. First in the league, with a 2.57 average, was Herron...........Wamsley had lost only one of his last 19 starts and had yielded no more than three goals in 17 of them. That's some accomplishment for a man who three years ago wasn't drafted until, as he says, "they were about to shut out the lights. My theory is when your chance comes, you take advantage of it. That's how I've always survived................ "You know you'll face about five tough shots a game," says Wamsley. "So all I must do is stop all the easy ones and half of the toughies, and we're probably going to win."
The thing that jumped out at me in those paragraph's was the reference to the teams 2.75 GAA. A mark that lead the league and the rest of the league who was allowing 3+ per game.
I also took notice of the final two quotes.
"Five tough shots a game?"
"All I must do is....stop half the toughies and we're probably going will win?"
As a kid, my recollection of the early 80s, was a Habs team that seemed like a Stanley Cup contender continually getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs. The trio of Wamsley, Sevigny and Herron put up monster regular season numbers, but failed in the playoffs EVERY year. But their statistical achievements have been forgotten in time. Wamsley's 1982 season is every bit as impressive as Tim Thomas' 2009 campaign, yet it is ignored.
It is also one of the points I consistently make on my site fantasysensehockey. History is littered with goaltenders who put up monster statistical seasons because of their surroundings. It is why I didn't pile on Carey Price this season, and why I was not waxing poetic about the superhuman effort of Tim Thomas in 2009, and am currently not buying this Chris Osgood is a Hall of Famer talk during the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
I also wondered how much has been forgotten because of the lazy evaluation of looking at a 2.75 GAA and not properly adjusting it? This happened continually when discussing Martin Brodeur's assault on Patrick Roy's win total and the direct comparison's that were done.
How can you properly evaluate Brodeur's SV% against Roy's without considering that Roy lead the league with a .908 SV% (a season in which no other goaltender finished above .900 and the league average was .879) to Brodeur's 14th place finish of .906 (a season which the league average was .903)?
So I decided to look back to post expansion and adjust the Canadiens goaltending numbers to the average.
Patrick Roy and Richard Sevigny put up inferior numbers to Jose Theodore's 2004 campaign, but are they inferior? Theodore's 2004 campaign was slightly above average in a low scoring era. The numbers show a superior season, but the numbers are misleading. The 1980s saw 10 of the 11 highest scoring seasons post expansion, so I decided to adjust the numbers to the average.
I took the average GAA since 1968 and adjusted the numbers in relation. Patrick Roy's 1989 campaign was almost a 50% improvement on the league average, so I adjusted his numbers to reflect the mean. With all things being equal, Roy's GAA would improve from 2.47 to 2.12, whereas Theodore's 2004 campaign (the lowest scoring season post expansion) would see his number balloon from 2.27 to 2.85.
I used the same principles to adjust shutouts and SV%. Unfortunately the NHL did not track SV% pre 1983 and the lack of game logs did not allow me to adjust extra wins/losses earned in OT or shootout. So the list is by no means a bible, but it did allow for some great statistical seasons to be recognized.
With this info I decided for my Eyes On The Prize debut to list the top 50 statistical seasons registered by goaltenders wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge (30 games minimum). This is not a list determining the greatest seasons, or Jose Theodore's 2002 season would have ranked much higher.
It is viewed through a fantasy perspective, and how the straight numbers would have impacted any given fantasy season. I used the default categories of wIns, save percentage, goals against average and shutouts to determine the ranking.
On to the list:
The local whipping boy makes the list for his disappointing 2009 campaign. Interesting to note, for all the fans screaming for Halak, that Price nudged him from the list, and that his overall 2009 season was slightly superior.
Now think of how much better he would be if he wasn't kicking puppies, didn't have a drinking problem and wasn't smoking 25 cigarettes at once.
Thibault's last stand. After showing initial promise in 1996, Thibault was chafing under the intense pressure the Montreal media placed on him as Roy's replacement. Thibault split the work with Andy Moog, and his failure to outperform the veteran resulted in him sitting on the bench for the 1998 playoffs. Ten more games in 1999 and the Habs, upon Thibault's request, dealt him to the Blackhawks for Jeff Hackett.
Andy Moog was a Hab killer. From the 1981 playoffs where he stood on his head and helped the 14th seeded Oilers upset the 3rd seeded Habs, to his annual domination of the Canadiens while with the Bruins from 88-93.
Moog was brought in to mentor Thibault in '98, but in the end he hastened T-Bo's departure. Moog was mediocre, but Thibault was worse. The Canadiens decided to go with Moog who lead the Habs to a first round upset of the Penguins, but in the following round the Canadiens got swept out of the 2008 playoffs with the best goaltender (Jose Theodore) in the organization toiling in the minors.
In the end, his play in the second round did nothing to change his reputation as a Hab killer. With the Canadiens committing to youth in 1999, Moog retired.
Steve Penney....Richard Sevigny.....Richard Sevigny....Michel Bergeron
Huet followed up his 2006 breakout campaign with an injury plagued lemon, culminating in a brutal game 82 performance against the Maple Leafs with the season on the line. Huet left the door open and with Carey Price's 2007 Bulldogs run and Halak's strong stretch drive, the possibility for $5M per season in Montreal disappeared with the Gillette's playoff revenue.
With the starting job finally his, Vachon enjoyed a solid 1971 season, but his 1- 5 record during the regular season against the Canadiens first round opponent the Bruins, lead to the Canadiens rolling the dice with a large rookie from Cornell.
Vachon took his flamboyant personality to LA. With long hair, a fu manchu moustache and little pressure, he finished up his career an underappreciated All-Star. One wonders what his legacy would have been had he remained in Montreal.
Wamsley was not able to continue momentum from his strong rookie campaign. He battled Richard Sevigny all season for the starting job, and was rewarded with the starting gig in the playoffs.
The Habs were once again upset in round one as they suffered a 3 game sweep by the Sabres. One could hardly blame Wamsley as he gave up 3 goals in the the first two games only to watch the Habs get shut out at home in both games by Bob Sauve.
Another victim of Satan cutting a deal with Steve Penney. History will likely remember him as a piece of the bridge between Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy. The internet will remember the name as a condescending Canadiens fan using his surname.
Sevigny was the last player to wear 33 before Patrick Roy, and although his career did not resemble St. Patrick's, one part of his game did.
The 1980 season was the first season which I retain memories from. My biggest memory was that if Bunny Larocque was starting on Hockey Night in Canada instead of Denis Herron, it meant the Canadiens would lose. Looking back 30 years later at Denis Herron's 25-3-3 record, it seems the simplistic viewpoint of a 6 year old was pretty perceptive. After patiently waiting for his opportunity, Larocque crashed and burned in 1980.
Hackett was a solid NHL goaltender. Put him on the 1980-83 Canadiens, and he is likely in the top 20 of this list.
Roy's rookie season was solid, but did not leave any indication of what was to come in April and May. For me, he didn't announce his future greatness until May 5, 1986. I have had the VHS tape of Game 3 against the Rangers for over 20 years, and although it doesn't match the anxiety of watching it live, it was the first glimpse at what lie ahead. How that game or Eric Desjardin's hat trick in the 1993 finals did not make the 10 greatest games DVD is beyond me, but at least I get to watch the Heritage Classic whenever I want to.
Vachon struggled to unseat Worsley as the Canadiens starter in 1969 and was again relegated to the bench for the 1968 playoffs. He caught his break during the second round when Worsley broke his hand. Vachon stepped in and went 7-1 with a 1.42 GAA as the Habs eliminated the Bruins and swept the Blues to win the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens paved the way for Vachon's ascension by dealing Tony Esposito to the Hawks.
Thomas can thank Ken Dryden and his decision to take a $123,000 pay cut for being on this list. Dryden left the Canadiens high and dry in 1974 to intern at a law firm, leaving the duties to Wayne Thomas, Michel Plasse and a 21 year old Larocque.
Thomas enjoyed the best regular season of the three, but Larocque lead the charge into the playoffs as the defending champions flamed out in the first round, thus paving the way for the emergence of the Broad Street bully era in the NHL.
I wonder if Dryden has a fifteen minute dissertation about how he may have had a hand in the ascent of the goon era.
Theodore returned from his 2003 vacation and appeared to have regained his MVP form. Although his numbers appeared similar to his 2002 campaign, they were helped by the lowest scoring season in post expansion history. They also were strikingly similar to Mathieu Garon's. After leading the Habs to another upset of the Bruins, the perception was that Theodore had returned, but being traded for David Aebischer was an announcement to the NHL that his days as an elite goaltender were over. Fortunately for him, Pierre Lacroix and George McPhee weren't listening.
With Worsley temporarily retiring in 1969 after 8 games, Vachon had finally become the undisputed starter in Montreal. During his first season as the go - to goalie, the Canadiens missed the playoffs for the only time in 45 seasons (1948-1994). Vachon took his share of the blame and with Tony Esposito registering 15 shutouts and winning the Calder/Vezina trophy combo in Chicago, the 1969-70 season was the beginning of the end for Rogie in Montreal.
I have seen it explained before that Roy's 1993 playoff performance was overrated because he didn't raise his playoff level as much as he lowered his regular season performance. Granted his performance in the 1993 regular season was a disappointment compared to the level he had established between 1989-92, but Roy was adjusting to life without Pat Burns and the implementation of a more wide open system.
Roy's 1993 performance placed him 5th among NHL goaltenders in efficiency, not exactly a poor season. Roy gets the bulk of the credit for the 1993 Cup, but it is something that has been overplayed by the media. He was the Canadiens best player and deserving of the Conn Smythe trophy, but a 103 pt team that was leading the NHL standings with 15 games to go was not a fluke.
You don't win the Stanley Cup on goaltending alone. Eric Desjardins, Matthieu Schneider and John Leclair went on to great careers, but in 1993 were not viewed with the same amount of respect as they are now. It is easy to see why the '93 Habs were disrespected, as a Roy fan, I would love to perpetuate the myth, but it's not reality.
Jeff Hackett replaced Thibault in the Canadiens goal for the 1999 season. Hackett did an admirable job for a terrible Canadiens squad that saw Rejean Houle continue the dismantling of the one - time contender. Houle followed up the Hackett deal by unloading Mark Recchi and Vincent Damphousse as the Canadiens stumbled to their lowest point total in over 35 years. Houle managed to turn Roy, Turgeon, Damphousse and Recch into Hackett, Corson, Zubrus and a couple of draft picks. Hackett was a solid goaltender, but just happened to be in Montreal at the wrong time. During his 5 seasons the Canadiens went 161-179-48-22. Their worst stretch since the 1930's.
Dead man walking. That was Huet's 2008 season. Huet was in a walk year and with Jaroslav Halak lighting up the AHL and Carey Price coming off a huge season, it was unlikely the Habs would waste $5M in cap space to resign what they essentially viewed as a bridge. When Huet failed to outperform the 20 year old Price, he was dealt to Washington at the deadline.
In an ideal world, Huet could have acted as a mentor to Price and possibly stepped in when he faltered in the 2nd round, but the NHL 2.0 does not provide that luxury.
If anybody signed a deal with the devil it would be Steve Penney. There is nothing in his career, pre and post 1985 playoffs that could suggest what occurred for those magical six weeks and the following season. Penney had arrived like a messiah leading the Canadiens back to respectability in March of 1984, but it wasn't Penney who had signed the deal with the devil, it was the Canadiens. The dark prince to all those who love offensive hockey was responsible for the magical transformation of the journeyman goaltender. 63 games into the 1984 season the Canadiens hired Jacques Lemaire to replace Bob Berry, and with that the Canadiens choked the offense out of oppositions. Two weeks later Steve Penney joined the team.
It is no coincidence that when Lemaire left in 1985 that Penney's game left with him. Steve Penney was never relevant without Jacques Lemaire behind the bench, coincidence? I think not.
With Charlie Hodge gone in the expansion draft, Vachon split the teams goaltending duties with Worsley. Vachon caught fire mid season as he managed to allow an incredible 15 goals in 21 games. The "Junior B goalie" won 23 games for the Habs and shared the Vezina, but he was only able to see action in two playoff games as Worsley backstopped the Canadiens to another Stanley Cup.
With Roy breaking out, the days of the platoon in Montreal were over and the clock began ticking on Hayward's Canadiens career. Hayward put up another solid season with a 7th place ranking, but with his desire to be a starter, he was no longer in the Canadiens future plans.
2007 was a monster year for Carey Price. World Junior MVP, CHL goaltender of the year and the Jack Butterfield award as AHL playoff MVP. With those accomplishments on his resume the Canadiens decided to fast track Price and it paid dividends immediately.
Although inconsistent, Price managed to match Huet's play and forced the Canadiens to deal the veteran. With Huet out of the picture Price finished 14-4 and lead the Canadiens to their first regular season conference title since 1989. He posted 2 shutouts in the first round of the playoffs and became just the 4th 20 year old goaltender to win a playoff round. But Price suffered a meltdown in the second round against the Flyers, tarnishing what had been an unbelievable 17 months.
What to do for an encore? How about an inconsistent season in which he finished the playoffs stapled to the bench unable to help defend the Stanley Cup. After an easy first round victory over the Bruins he lost the starters job after a brutal effort against the Nordiques. Roy's disappointment at being benched lead him to pout over what he felt was a betrayal by Jean Perron. His work ethic suffered and when the Canadiens fought their way back into the Flyers series trailing 3-2, Perron rolled the dice with his 1986 meal ticket. Roy was not ready and tanked badly as the Flyers pumped 4 goals by him on route to a 6-3 victory and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Immaturity and inconsistency marked his game until his breakout season in 1989.
The 2002 season looked like another lost one in Montreal as Saku Koivu was diagnosed with cancer during the pre-season. Things looked bleak without the Canadiens captain.
Playing a conservative defensive system backed by the 25 year old, Theodore took the fans on a joy ride that almost culminated in a Semi-Final matchup against the hated Maple Leafs. Theodore had a career season and bolstered by the return of Koivu, lead the Canadiens to their first post season appearance in 3 years. Theodore was rewarded the MVP and Vezina trophies, but his best work was done in the playoffs.
In the first round of the 2002 playoffs versus the top seeded Bruins, Theodore and the Canadiens were outshot 211-141 (79-31 in Game 5 and 6) yet won the series in 6 games. In the second round of the playoffs against the Hurricanes, Theodore had the Canadiens on the brink of a 3-1 lead against the Canes while being outshot 158-70 in the first 4 games. The walls finally came tumbling in after blowing a 3-0 third period lead in Game 4, but his season ended when he was yanked during an 8-2 loss against the Hurricanes in Montreal to a standing ovation.
A holdout and new contract was followed by 6 years of sucking and the question of whether 2002 was a fluke.
The 1991 season was the only season during the Pat Burns era in which Roy failed to win the Vezina trophy. Roy finished 6th overall in goaltending efficiency, but once again failed to live up to the legacy of 1986. Late in game 7 against the Bruins, Roy coughed up this beauty to Cam Neely to seal the Habs fate in Beantown again. The 2nd goal in a 2-1 game seven loss helped his critics pile on in attempt to discredit Roy's playoff legacy, one which he did not recover until his Conn Smythe performance of 1993.
Thibault registered a top 10 finish in goaltending efficiency and paired with his top five finish as a 20 year old the previous season, looked to be on his way to a strong career. Not a bad Canadiens debut with all the pressure from replacing Roy and playing under a coaching system lead by Mario Tremblay, Yvon Cournoyer and Steve Shutt.
Thibault couldn't handle the media and fan pressure (Carey Price 2009 anyone?) and when he finally recovered from being rushed and began to establish himself at 28, his career was derailed by knee and hip issues. Thibault will always be linked negatively in Montreal, but for 40 games in 1996 he offered the promise of a franchise goaltender for the unrelenting faithful.
When the media links Carey Price to a name like Jim Carey, it is absurd, Jocelyn Thibault is surprisingly ignored, but a much better parallel for what can go wrong when a goalie is rushed.
When crunching these numbers I was shocked to see Theodore's 2000 season finish ahead of his 2002 MVP campaign. His winning percentage and SV% is inferior, but his GAA was better and he registered 5 shutouts in 30 games! One shutout in every 6 starts behind Brisebois, Weinrich, Dykhuis, Rivet, Ulanov and Lachance?
That is impressive.
Exhibit number one why statistics LIE.
Bunny Larocque's career record: 160-89-45 - .620 career winning percentage
Patrick Roy's career record: 551-315-131 - .618 career winning percentage
Don't tell anybody from the mass media, they may use those numbers to convince the public that Larocque is a Hall of Famer.
Chris Osgood - .632 career winning percentage. Just sayin'.
Nice headband Brian, don't NHL players have veto over the pictures on their hockey card?
The 1987 season was a strong one for Hayward, coming from the Winnipeg Jets in the deal for Steve Penney, the expected backup became the starter during the 1987 playoff run helping the Canadiens get off the mat against the Nordiques in the 2nd round. Trailing 2-0 heading to Le Colisee, Hayward and the Canadiens rallied winning 4 of the next 5 and a trip to the Conference Finals.
In a bizarre decision by Jean Perron, coming off a victory in Philadelphia, Hayward was lifted for Roy trailing 3-2 to the Flyers and never regained the starters job again.
Dryden didn't take long to regain his form after his return from his one year sabbatical, but for only the second time in his career he failed to win his last game. Dryden's 1974-75 season was also the worst of his career as he finished 4th in the league in efficiency. The Canadiens could not hold off Buffalo's "French Connection" as they failed to defeat them in the regular season and went down in 6 games in the playoffs. The Canadiens record vs the Sabres in 1975: 2-8-1.
Dryden took the embarrasment of his 4th place finish by winning 4 straight Stanley Cups and 4 straight Vezina's to end his career.
Herron enjoyed a monster 1980 season as he stole the starting job from Bunny Larocque, but once again, you can't take your regular season stats with you to the playoffs. While it took him 34 games to amass 3 losses in the regular season, Herron only required 5 in the playoffs to lose that amount. The Drive for 5 was ultimately compromised by an injury to Lafleur and an injury to 50 goal man Pierre Larouche. Outside of his mask, I will always remember Herron for the giveaway that yielded the North Stars first goal of game 7 and him lying under a heap of players after Al MacAdam put an end to the Montreal dynasty. Not a fair fate for the journeyman netminder, but the one he left upon an impressionable 7 year old.
Roy continued to post huge numbers in 1988, but he once again trailed Hayward's performance. Roy was again handed the playoff reigns, and a shaky first round performance against the Whalers that saw Hayward have to replace him a couple of times and the first playoff loss to the Bruins in 40 years, pushed 1986 out of the minds of many.
Four years of great stats, four years of sitting on the bench waiting for his opportunity. Larocque finished the 1979 season as the 4th best statistical goaltender in the NHL, and at 26 was the heir to the Canadiens goaltending throne.
With rumours circulating about Dryden's retirement and his shakey play in Game 1 of the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals, Larocque was tabbed with his first playoff start since Dryden's sabbatical in 1974. With 1 minute to go in the pregame warmup, Doug Risebrough fired a rising shot that cracked the plastic of Larocque's mask and crashed against the goaltender's forehead. Down went Larocque and his long awaited opportunity.
He spent less than 2 more seasons in Montreal and finished up his career bouncing around the NHL.
It is easily forgotten when looking at Carey Price's 2009 struggles how insulated Patrick Roy was during his formative years. While Roy looked to be producing Vezina type numbers, he struggled to free himself from the platoon he shared with Brian Hayward and was extremely inconsistent. Hayward was a solid goaltender, but his numbers outside of the defensive cocoon in Montreal showed him to be average.
Hayward did a solid job during his 4 seasons in Montreal, but he was not a mentor for Roy, as he was determined to be the starter. His 1988 performance should have rewarded him with the starter's job as at that point he was a better goaltender than Roy. But Roy had the playoff pedigree, and at the age of 22, was the future of the Montreal Canadiens. I am not saying that Price is Roy and Halak is Hayward, but it is understandable why Gainey made the choices he did.
How do you properly adjust for a goaltender not wearing a mask? When I look at the Gumper's stats without a mask, with the pressure of 8-9 teammates with Vezina clauses in their contracts counting on him, fighting off the challenge of the hungry 22 year old Vachon, yet posting the best statistical season in the league at 38, then going 11-0 in the playoffs while allowing only 3 goals in the Stanley Cup Final, I am impressed.
Armed with a brand new $3M contract, Roy continued the momentum from the 1993 playoff run. He finished 2nd behind Dominik Hasek in efficiency, but once again the Canadiens encountered their nemesis - the Boston Bruins - in the playoffs. The Habs went into the Boston Garden and won twice (a building they had gone 2-11 over the previous 5 playoff series), with Roy missed game 3 while his appendix was removed. The resulting 6-3 loss proved to be the difference in a tight series, as the Canadiens lost in 7 games and exited the playoffs in the first round for the first time in 10 seasons.
Roy's final season with Pat Burns earned him his 3rd Vezina in 4 seasons, but Burns' act had worn thin and the Canadiens struggled to defeat the Whalers in the first round and before being shockingly swept by the Bruins in round 2. The next season the Canadiens hired Jacques Demers and won their 24th Stanley Cup.
Swept by the Bruins and a new coach hired by the name of Jacques who used to coach the Blues? Hmm!
Add in a Penguins championship and it sounds like this season. I know it is a stretch, but after the last 6 months, it is all I have to hold onto.
Huet is one of the most unlikely names on this list. A throw in during the 2004 Draft Day trade that saw Radek Bonk acquired from the Kings, an early season injury left him as a non-factor during the first half of the 2006 season. Claude Julien quickly recognized that he was far superior to the artist formerly known as Jose Theodore. Unfortunately Gainey did not see as much until stepping behind the bench himself. Gainey's sudden realization lead to the dumping of Theodore, as Huet's torrid post Olympic stretch (12-4, 1.84 GAA, .937 SV% and 5 SOs) lead the Canadiens into the playoffs. Although Huet could not lead the Canadiens to post season glory, his miraculous stretch drive rewarded him with a 2 year contract extension and number 12 on this list.
During Worsley's final full season with the Canadiens, the stress of the job and his fear of flying lead him to go see the team psychiatrist. When the shrink suggested a change of occupation and GM Sam Pollock caught wind of it, the doctor was fired immediately. Worsley was able to hold it together for one more great season and his 4th Stanley Cup, before packing it in 6 games into 1970. The close of his Montreal career coincided with the close of his career as an impact goaltender. The Gumper would re-emerge with the Minnesota North Stars and play 5 more seasons, resisting the urge to wear a mask until the last 6 games of his career.
Mention 1972 and Ken Dryden and it is unlikely that his sophomore campaign with the Canadiens will come up, although he was edged out by Tony Esposito in the NHL goaltender efficiency ranking for a solid 2nd, 1972 is all about the Summit Series. Dryden never really played well against the Russians (something he feared because of their passing game), and outside of winning Game 8, his biggest contribution is his personal account of the series for SI in 1973. His frank assessment's, his wavering confidence and his ability to fight self doubt to emerge victorious bring great insight into him and the classic series.
What would Dryden have been worth in a 1970s keeper league fantasy pool?
Seven seasons, five 1st place finishes, a 2nd place finish and he bottomed out at 4th? It is so dominant that a Gretzky like - rule would not have been out of the question. Even though his career impact is somewhat minimized because of the Canadiens dynasty, his career numbers are mindblowing.
Roy continued his dominance in 1990 with the aid of Pat Burns stifling defensive system. Roy and Allaire continued to redefine the position as Roy's SV% began to reach stratospheric levels.
Roy lead the league in wins, GAA , SV% and was the number one rated goaltender during the season. His success lead to his second straight Vezina trophy.
Roy continued his strong play in a first round defeat of the Sabres, but could not defeat the Bruins as he surrendered 13 goals in 5 games and succumbed to his nemesis Cam Neely for the second time in 3 years. Between 1988 and 1996, the only team to defeat Patrick Roy outside of the Stanley Cup Final was the Bruins.
Dryden's final season saw him once again lead the league in goaltending efficiency and lead the Canadiens to another Stanley Cup - his 6th in only 8 seasons. But his final season was a struggle, a fact he alluded to in "The Game". The struggle to get up for every game, the commitment to excellence and the ability to hold off the hungrier teams as they took aim at the Champions on a nightly basis. The Canadiens failed to finish first overall and their performance had dropped from their peak level of 1977. Their 17 losses almost matched their loss total from the previous 2 seasons (18).
They struggled to hold off the Bruins in their classic 7 game semi-final and Dryden was slated for the bench in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals until fate intervened with a slap shot to Bunny Larocque's face. The Canadiens faithful booed Dryden's announcement as the starting goaltender in Game 2 at the Forum. Over his Canadiens career he won 6 Stanley Cups and was 201 games above .500 and yet he was booed.
Carey Price, don't feel so bad, apparentlty idiocy is hereditary.
I had always assumed that I just latched onto whatever Canadiens goaltender was in net as a kid. Looking back, the 1980 season provided Denis Herron's 25-3-3 record, and in 1981, Richard Sevigny posted 20-4-3 numbers. In 1982 and 1983 combined, Wamsley was 50-19-12. Finally, when the Canadiens system did not produce a great goaltender, Steve Penney shows up out of the wilderness and leads the Canadiens to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
I was latching on to these goaltenders because they looked like stars to a kid's eyes. The reality of the situation is that ALL of them were system goaltenders. The way their careers played out proves just this.
I am constantly under fire at fantasysensehockey for suggesting that goaltenders like Tim Thomas, Nik Backstrom, Chris Osgood etc are a product of their system. History is littered with Roman Turek's, Roman Cechmanek's, Byron Dafoe's and Rick Wamsley's. Individuals who spend 80% of their careers treading water until placed in an insulated system.
The logic that Tim Thomas all of a sudden became elite at the age of 34 is absurd. If history has taught us anything, it is that it repeats itself. He is not an MVP like some would suggest, he is about a valid Vezina winner as Bob Froese would have been in 1986 when he posted one of the greatest statistical seasons in NHL history.
Wamsley comes in at number 6, but the trap is responsible, and the 1976-1992 trap dominates the top 10 of this list. Hey ,Jersey, we want out system back!
Another Vezina, another Stanley Cup and 700 more opportunites for Denis Brodeur to capture the pose.
The 1981 season for the Canadiens was a horror show in goal. The season started with Herron and Larocque as a tandem. Larocque won 11 straight and took the starting job. He injured his hand and with Herron struggling they were both benched for Nova Scotia call ups Richard Sevigny and Rick Wamsley. Wamsley got off to a strong start and then took a puck in the throat and Larocque was back in the picture. When Larocque struggled, he was replaced by Herron, who had been benched for over 6 weeks. Larocque demanded a trade, and he was promptly shipped to the Leafs.
Thanks to Sevigny's efforts, Larocque and Herron's names are etched on the Vezina trophy. Having two goalies with a combined record of 22-18-9 with a 3.30 GAA average as award winners was ridiculous, and it is likely because of this that the NHL decided to change the criteria for the winner of the Vezina.
Although Sevigny was a statistically deserving recipient, he had a hand in assuring that he never had his name on it again.
After consecutive playoff failures in which the Canadiens could not contain their opposition, Scotty Bowman spent the off-season convincing the Canadiens that they could not win without renewed emphasis on defense. Where 1974's failures could have been written off due to the absence of Dryden, it has to be considered that the Canadiens offense were outplayed by the "French Connection" line. By 1975, it was time for a change in philosophy.
The renewed commitment to defense resulted in cutting 51 goals off their 1975 totals and lead Dryden to 4 of the top 7 statistical seasons in post expansion history. The Canadiens lead by the Big 3 and defensive forwards Bob Gainey, Doug Jarvis and Doug Risebrough won 4 consecutive Stanley Cups. Over those 4 seasons the Canadiens lost only 51 of 368 games and lead the league in defense every year. Larocque put up great numbers (think Chris Osgood), but placing Dryden in that situation produced Hall of Fame numbers.
The 1989 season finally saw the maturation of Roy as a goaltender. Although he had put up great statistical seasons after his rookie year, it was the 1989 campaign which saw the light finally turn on. Previously Roy struggled to outperform Brian Hayward and had benefitted from the shelter of a league leading defense, but the hiring of Pat Burns combined with the tireless work of ally Francois Allaire resulted in his goaltending epiphany. Roy lost only 5 of 48 starts and was undefeated at home during the regular season.
Roy could not sustain his home success into the playoffs, as he lost 4 of his last 6 home starts and the Habs fell in 6 games to the Flames in the Stanley Cup Final. Combining Pat Burns defensive system with the young superstar was like a goalie on steroids, as Roy won 3 of the next 4 Vezina trophies and began his ascent to NHL legend status.
It is no surprise that the number one statistical season in Canadiens history coincides with the record setting 60-8-12 season of 1977. If Larocque had played 30 plus games there is a good possibility they would have finished 1-2 on this list. The pose was on display nightly as Dryden was rarely tested all season. The record setting squad did not lose back to back all season. The only time Dryden was tested was during the Stanley Cup semi-finals. During a 4 game sweep of the Blues and the first two games against the Islanders, Dryden allowed 7 goals in 6 games, but the Isles managed to beat him 9 times over two games to force a 6th game. It was the only games Dryden would lose in the playoffs as the Habs won 5 straight for their second consecutive championship, defeating the Bruins 4-0 in the Finals.
Dryden's 1977 season is one of the greatest statistical seasons ever produced by a goaltender.