Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Best & Worst Leafs Goaltending Tandem of All-Time (Part 1)

There has been a lot of talk about the current Maple Leafs goaltending situation/tandem which is Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer. Are they enough to get us into the playoffs? Can they get us past a round if we make the post season this year? 

Reimer was given the reins to the #1 spot and was playing well to start the season until a concussion in game seven knocked him out of the line up for an extended period of time. He has not been the same since his return as a 4-0-1 record has now become 7-5-4, Optimus Reim he has not been. 

Jonas Gustavsson is now in the number 1 role, starting 10 out of 11 games in 2012 and has posted a record of 7-3-0 with three shutouts in this span but all though The Monster has played better of late, he is prone into letting in that bad goal at an inopportune time.

There is a lot to be said of this tandem which is actually in its first season together but can these two get us to a place that we have not been since before the NHL lockout.... The Playoffs? or will Brian Burke need to swallow hard and make a trade for a proven NHL starter?

This has lead me to take a look at the best and worst goaltending tandems that the Toronto Maple Leafs have ever had, NHL teams didn't normally play a back up often until the late 50's, when the regular season games where up to 70 a season. We take a look at the Top 10 best Maple Leafs goaltending tandems in Part 1 and will cover the Top 10 Worst goaltending tandems in another blog which is part 2.

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Here is my Top 10 Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending tandems of All-Time:
(Legend- W-L-T record followed by goals against average and shutouts while "....." are followed by new season)

#10  Jacques Plante and Bernie Parent (1971/72)

Plante's record  16-13-5, 2.62, 2
Parent's record  17-18-9, 2.56, 3

What a tandem the Leafs had in the same season, Plante was at the tail end of his career and 43 years old while Parent was 26 and he would move on to Philadelphia after this season. The Leafs finished 4th in the East Division and lost in the playoff quarter-finals to eventual Cup winners the Boston Bruins in five games but Plante and Parent in their NHL careers would combine to win 8 Stanley Cups, 9 Vezina Trophies, 2 Conn Smythes and appear in 13 all star games.

#9 Ed Belfour and Trevor Kidd (2002/03 - 2003/04)

Belfour's record  37-20-5, 2.26, 7.......... 34-19-6, 2.13, 10
Kidd's record  6-10-2, 3.10, 0.......... 6-5-2, 3.26, 1

Belfour would come into Toronto sporting a Stanley Cup win, 2 Vezina trophies and 4 William Jennings trophies, he shattered the Leafs record for most wins in a season in 2002/03, the club would go on to record their highest point total in franchise history with 103 points in this same season, while Kidd would come in when the Eagle needed a rest. Belfour followed his first season with 10 shutouts to lead the league the following year. The club finished both season in 2nd place in the Northeast Division but go on to lose in the Conference quarter-final in 2002/03 and in the Conference semi-final in 2003/04 both to the Philadelphia Flyers.

#8 Mike Palmateer and Gord McRae (1977/78)

Palmateer's record 34-19-9, 2.74, 5
McRae's record 7-10-1, 3.29, 1

Palmateer would have his best season as a Leaf in 77/78, his 34 wins would tie the club record for most in a season at that point in time, McRae played in his last season for the Leafs, while the club this season would record 92 points, their second highest ever at this point in time. The club would finish 3rd in the Adams Division and the Leafs would advance two rounds to the semi-finals before losing to eventual Cup winners the Montreal Canadiens in 4 straight games.

#7 Felix Potvin and Grant Fuhr (1992/93)

Potvin's record 25-15-7, 2.50, 2
Fuhr's record 13-9-4, 3.14, 1

Fuhr came to town via a trade the season before with 4 Stanley Cup wins a Vezina Trophy and a Williams Jennings but a 21 year old keeper nicknamed the Cat would steal the fans hearts and Fuhr's number one spot which would lead to Fuhr being shipped off to Buffalo. Potvin lead the league in goals against average and finished second in save percentage, the Leafs would finish 3rd in the Norris Division with 99 points the highest in franchise history at this point and club would go on to lose game 7 of the Conference Finals  to the Los Angeles Kings the closest the have been to making a Stanley Cup final since 66/67.

#6 Johnny Bower and Ed Chadwick (1958/59 - 1959/60)

Bower's record 15-17-7, 2.74, 3.......... 34-24-8, 2.73, 5
Chadwick's record 12-15-4, 3.10, 3.......... 1-2-1, 3.75, 0

The Bower and Chadwick tandems first season numbers did not look very impressive, the Leafs had not won a Stanley Cup since the 1950/51 season while the club finished fourth in the league they made it to the Stanley Cup Final losing to the Montreal Canadiens in 5 games. The 59/60 season was all Bower with the 35 year old, setting a new club wins record for a season. The Leafs would finish the season in 2nd place and move on to the Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens again losing in four straight.

#5 Felix Potvin and Damien Rhodes (1993/94 - 1995/96)

Potvin's record 34-22-9, 2.89, 3.......... 15-13-7, 2.91, 0....... 30-26-11, 2.87, 2
Rhodes' record 9-7-3, 2.62, 0.......... 6-6-1, 2.68, 0......... 4-5-1, 2.79, 0

Potvin and Rhodes my favourite Maple Leafs goaltending tandem in all the years that I have followed the club they were both solid when required and would lead the Leafs to the playoffs all three years together with the club finishing 2nd, 4th and 3rd in the Central Division, Potvin's 34 wins in 93/94 would tie the clubs season single record. The Leafs would once again reach the Conference Finals in 1993/94 losing to the Vancouver Canucks in 5 games, this was followed by back to back Conference quarter-final losses to the Chicago Black Hawks and the St Louis Blues.

#4 Curtis Joseph and Glenn Healy (1998/99 - 2000/01)

Joseph's record 35-24-7, 2.56, 3.......... 36-20-7, 2.49, 4....... 33-27-8, 2.39, 6
Healy's record 6-3-0, 2.97, 0.......... 9-10-0, 3.04, 2........ 4-7-3, 2.62,0

The Leafs where moved back to the Eastern Conference in 1998/99 and the club had just missed the playoffs the past two seasons, so they went out and signed Curtis Joseph. The Joseph and Healy tandem would lead the Leafs into the playoffs all three seasons they where together and Joseph would shatter the Leafs record for wins in a season in 1998/99 and once again in 1999/00. The Leafs had their first ever 100 point season in 1999/00 will going on to win the Northeast Division. The club would reach the Conference Finals in 1998/99 losing to the Buffalo Sabres in 5 games, while bowing out in the Conference semi-finals the following two years to the New Jersey Devils in 6 games and 7 games.

#3 Turk Broda and Al Rollins (1949/50 - 1951/52)

Broda's record 30-25-12, 3.48, 9.......... 14-11-5, 2.23,6........ 0-1-0, 6.00, 0
Rollins' record 1-1-0, 2.40, 1.......... 27-5-8, 1.77,5........ 29-24-16, 2.22, 5

Broda was at the end of a stellar career with the Maple Leafs and Rollins was a hot shot 23 year old, when they paired as a tandem in what was one of the few earlier seasons where the #1 would play just about every game. The Leafs would finish 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in the regular season, The Leafs would exit in the semi-final in 1949/50 and 1951/52 to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games and four games but in the 1950/51 season the club would go on to record 95 points in the regular season their highest franchise total ever, this record would stand  for 41 years, Rollins goals against average in a season is the second lowest in franchise history. He would also win the Vezina trophy this season. The club would then go into the playoffs and defeat the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final in five games with Broda appearing in 8 playoff games and Rollins in 4.

#2 Terry Sawchuk and Johnny Bower (1964/65 - 1966/67)

Sawchuk's record 17-13-6, 2.56, 3.......... 10-11-3, 3.16, 1....... 15-5-4, 2.81, 2
Bower's record 13-13-8, 2.38, 1..........18-10-5, 2.25, 3........ 12-9-3, 2.64, 2

A great Maple Leaf tandem, two Hall of Fame goalies that came together when Sawchuk was 35 and Bower 40. The tandem shared the Vezina trophy in 1964/65 season where Bower lead the league in goals against average, the Leafs were eliminated in the semi-finals to the Montreal Canadiens in six games after finishing 4th during the regular season. The 1965/66 season saw Bower once again lead the league in goals against average and the Leafs lose once again in the semi-finals to Montreal in four games after finishing 3rd in the league. Then came 1966/67 the Leafs rode the tandem to a 3rd place finish all the way to the Stanley Cup Championship defeating the Montreal Canadiens in six games to capture their 13th and final cup to date with a goaltending tandem that had a combined age of 79 unheard of. Sawchuk would get the majority of playoff games appearing in 10 with Bower appearing in 4. The tandem ended their NHL careers with 8 Stanley Cups a piece and 6 Vezina trophies.

#1 Johnny Bower and Don Simmons (1961/62 - 1963/64)

Bower's record 32-17-10, 2.58, 2...... 20-15-7, 2.62, 1...... 24-16-11, 2.11, 5
Simmons' record 4-4-1, 2.33, 1...... 15-8-5-, 2.50, 1...... 9-9-1, 3.17, 3

Bower and Simmons the Greatest Maple Leafs goaltending tandem in the history of Toronto's franchise, Bower lead the league in 1963/64 in goals against average with Simmons leading the league in the 1962/63 season. The tandem also lead the Leafs to a 1st, 3rd and 2nd place finish in regular season before taking the Maple Leafs to three straight Stanley Cup Championships, thats two more then any other tandem has been able to do. The Maple Leafs defeated the Chicago Black Hawks in 6 games in 1961/62 with the Detroit Red Wings falling the next two years in 5 games and 7 games. Simmons did only appear in 3 playoff games in 1961/62 with Bower playing every minute of every other playoff game in the three years.

Next up in Part 2 the Worst Leafs Goaltending Tandem in their NHL history.


  1. Great blog, you clearly know a extensive amount of the Leafs' history.

  2. I would say Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk but hard to argue with a tandem that won 3 cups in a row