A few days ago, the NHL Network poured gasoline onto the hockey landscape and then lit a match by asking: Who’s The Greatest Goalie in NHL History? They listed three choices: Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek.
As you might suspect, this social media post started a fire. More than 2.2 million people viewed that post on “X,” which was formerly known as Twitter.
Of course, everyone agreed on who the No. 1 goalie is.
You know that’s a lie.
All three of those goalies had supporters. But it surprised us (just a little) how strong the support was for former Detroit Red Wings player Hasek. He seems to be a player whose legacy has grown since his retirement. It’s as if fans appreciated him more after they had time to remember how dominant he was.
What’s in Hasek’s Trophy Case?
Hasek clearly boasts the resume and trophy case to support his candidacy. He won six Vezina trophies, was a first-team NHL All-Star six times, won two Hart Trophies and two Lester Pearson awards.
He won two Stanley Cup championships with Detroit (2002, 2008), although only one was as a starter. Even in his later NHL years, he found a way to be sharp when the Red Wings needed him.
Which goaltender is the greatest of all time?🐐 pic.twitter.com/66K6I9fbOL
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 20, 2023
He was the primary reason why the Czechs won the 1998 Olympic gold medal. He won four medals at the World Championships.
Hockey Now’s Editor-in-Chief Dan Kingerski is among those who believe Domink Hasek is the greatest NHL goalie. This is his column.
Kingerski wrote that he believed the race comes down to Hasek vs. Roy.
“Roy is the near-perfect choice if you’re choosing based on a resume,” Kingerski wrote. “The problem with that argument is Dominik Hasek was … something else. No one has ever been able to stop pucks with the ferocity and acrobatic consistency as Hasek. He was “The Dominator,” and that name rang true. Behind some average (and that’s being kind) Buffalo Sabres teams, Hasek willed them to the playoffs and a few times deep into the playoffs. Hasek carried the Sabres a Brett Hull toe away from Game 7 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.”
Hasek Comparison: Gumby
The late Johnny Bower once described former Hasek as a goalie without a style. He was an abstract goalie at a time when goalies were starting to paint by numbers. His acrobatic style was as entertaining as it was dominant. Hasek was the NHL’s Gumby.
He could twist, turn and contort his 170-pound frame in ways that seemed to defy the norms of human anatomy. His elasticity seemed almost superhuman. Seemingly out of position, lying on his back, Hasek could rise up, throw his arm behind him like he was swimming the backstroke. Or, his leg would suddenly shoot up to knock away a shot destined for the middle of the net.
Hasek’s game always looked improvised, but that was far from the truth. If Hasek was quizzed about why he did what he did, he would explain that even his lunges and dives, which often looked like acts of desperation, were quite calculated. Through the years, he kept track of how often unusual moves worked for him. In his head, he knew which moves gave him the best odds for success at any given time.
“When I first saw him play, I thought, ‘Oh, God, this can’t last,’ because he was just flopping around,” former NHL goaltender John Davidson once said. “But you watch him closely and every move was by design.”
Using His Head
Hasek used his noggin for more than thinking. Over the course of a season, Hasek would use his helmet mask to stop the puck. He would head the puck away from the net like he was a Premier League soccer player.
The bottom line on Hasek is that he refused to quit on any puck. He always believed he had a chance to prevent the goal from being scored. It didn’t matter how dire the situation was.
“Hasek wasn’t a fundamentally great goalie, nor did he play for great teams until Detroit in the final six years of his 16-year career, but there wasn’t a more dominant goalie, at least in the 21-team (and more) era,” Kingerski concluded. “If his added resume features didn’t win the argument, the eye test must suffice.Oh, and Hasek’s career playoff save percentage is .925, significantly higher than Roy’s .912.The best goalie ever? It’s Dominik Hasek, and it’s a pretty easy call from here.”