Friday, January 16, 2009

Worst Goalie Seasons

For some unknown reason, I was goofing around with my favourite site, www.hockey-reference.com ....must have been a slow day at work. I have recently been looking for the worst goals against averages in junior hockey history, (a future blog posting) and decided to check all NHL goalies with a single season GAA over 4.50. On this fantastic site, I'm able to create my own criteria for searching. I choose goalies that played at least 20 games in a season and produced an average of at least 4.50.
It turns out that the worst average in NHL history of 7.11 was spit out by the "immortal" Frank Brophy of the Quebec Bulldogs in 1919-20. The Bulldogs that year went 4-20 in spite of Joe Malone's league leading 39 goals. Goaltender, Brophy was 19 that season which proved to be his only NHL showing.
The second worst GAA in history belongs to New York Ranger Ken McAuley, who in 1943-44 had a 6.24 average over 50 games. McAuley went 6-39 -5 in playing every minute that year except for a 20 minute period played by 17 year old future Hall of Famer Harry Lumley. Of course Lumley allowed zero goals in his brief stint.
Mike Veisor of the 82-82 Hartford Whalers posted the third worst average of 5.53 over 23 games. Veisor was backup to all-time great Greg Millen that year...Millen finished at 4.81 good for 31st on the worst season ever list.
Ron Low, amazingly had back-to-back years of 5.45 GAA, in the first two seasons of Washington Capital hockey. Over those two years he was a collective 14-67-4, which helps explain his atrocious career record of 102-203-38.
One thing I noticed on the list of worst goals against averages ever was the large amount of Toronto Maple Leafs from the early 1980's. I ended up having a bit of a flashback, seeing as this was my childhood of my hockey fandom. The first Leaf doesn't make the list until 16th place with Rick St.Croix and a 5.11 GAA in 1983-84, but they make up ground in a hurry with a total of ten (10) goalies of the worst 62 all-time. Ten goalies over an eight year period had goals against averages of over 4.50...this was my childhood. Along with St.Croix, there was Tim Bernhardt (5.07), Mike Palmateer (4.88), Ken Wregget (4.84), Don Edwards (4.78), Michel Laroque (4.69), Jim Rutherford (4.65) and Vincent Tremblay (4.52). These were guys who were once good, if not very good goalies nearing the end of their careers (St.Croix, Palmateer, Edwards, Larouque, Rutherford) or guys who never really panned out (the others), although Wregget won a Cup with Pittsburgh, he ended up below .500 on his career. This group of early 80's Leaf goaltending ineptitude doesn't even include Allan Bester or the barely memorable Jiri Chra. Again....these were my formative years as a hockey fan. For this reason, I am immune to any current trials and tribulations of my beloved Maple Laffs.

The Leafs, with ten appearances on the list, far out-number any other team. Hartford and Winnipeg with five and Pittsburgh with six, are the only teams that even come close to the crapitude of the 1980's Maple Leaf goaltending. Even the horrible expansion Sharks and Senators squads and the perenially goaltender starved Canucks can't come close to my Buds.
One interesting note from the worst goalie averages of all-time was the fact that Georges Vezina (yes, the trophy guy) had a GAA of 4.66 in 1919-20. As well, the two seasons before and after this he went 4.19 and 4.12. Was the man the true legend he's made out to be, or was he merely a product of the time, an era of far more goals per game than today? This we shall leave for another posting...

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