Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where Have All the Goalies Gone?

Seriously, what happened?  After watching a Stanley Cup favorite in the Philadelphia Flyers flip flopping on goalies on a nightly basis it got me to thinking, What happened to the goalies being the most important person on the ice?  Goalies in this decade have become as interchangeable as a coach in the NFL.  Look back at the nineties where there was Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur, Curtis Joseph, Arthurs Irbe, Ron Hextall, Mike Richter, Chris Osgood, John Vanbiesbrouck, Tom Barrasso, Mike Vernon, need I go on?  Now let's take a look at what this decade has brought us, Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, um....Henrik Lunquist? No he hasn't been around long enough.  Marty Turco?  Quite a mighty fall off he took in Dallas.  Cam Ward? Eh he had a good Stanley Cup run but hasn't been amazing since.  Miikka Kiprusoff is probably the only other goalie worth consideration.

So I ask again, what happened?  How did we go from the greatest goalie era of all time to making it a completely interchangeable position?  Is it just that the league is more apt to build their marketing around a scorer over a stopper?  Or is it all the new rules to up the scoring in the league?

Let's take a look at the last seven Stanley Cup winning goalies.  2010 Blackhawks had Antti Niemi win them a Stanley Cup.  How is he doing for Chicago this year?  Oh yeah he is on San Jose this year.  2009 Penguins had Marc Andre-Fluery finally put a cup on Sidney Crosby's resume.  He is still decently solid in the NHL, however i don't think he is going to have a Hall of Fame discussion any time soon.  The 2008 Red Wings thought they were going to ride 90s great Dominik Hasek to the cup, but ended up losing his spot halfway through the first round to Chris Osgood.  After that season Osgood played his way out of the starting lineup two years in a row.  The 2007 Ducks took Jean-Sebastien Giguere to another run to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Only this time he won it for them.  Not two years later he did not look any where near the same guy.  Year after he was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs to throw out a few starts and a 500 record.  2006 the Carolina Hurricanes made a goalie change in the first round against the Devils benching Martin Gerber in favor of Cam Ward.  Ended up being the correct move because they won the cup and Ward is the goalie of the future for this franchise.  The 2004 Lightning won the last cup before the lockout, and when they came back to play hockey again their star goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was nowhere to be seen.  That's probably because he was over playing for Chicago.  The 2003 Devils have Martin Brodeur, and he single handedly won them that cup. 

Is it just me or could you interchange most of these teams goalies like they were Legos?  Our league is built around players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, the Sedin brothers, Joe Thornton and Ilya Kovalchuk.  Goalies are now just the ones who get in the way of scoring.  We need to bring back the days where goalies had big names too.  Imagine the rivalries.  So many stars in the league right now, imagine if their were 10 great goalies like the 90s?  Imagine Crosby against Richter.  Ovechkin against Hasek in his prime.  Kane taking on Joseph.  The Sedin brothers trying to figure out the majesty that was Roy.  You ask what will make hockey more prominent in sports again and my answer would be bring on the goalies.  You'll thank me for saving your league later.

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