The Greatest Goalie of All Time Contest: The Three Finalists - VOTE
Here are the three top submissions:
1) Bowlercoaster (yes, again)
Drafted very late, as legends often are,
Chicago had no clue, they had a future star.
Maybe that is why, they traded him away,
For one Stephan Beauregard, and one Eric Daze.
He quickly became the starter, replacing coked out Fuhr.
It was obvious to all, a franchise goalie was here.
Up front there was Peca, Lafontaine and the nameless rest;
But in goal is where the Sabres shone, it's where they had the best.
Ted Nolan came in to coach the team, he won at the awards show,
But the goalie couldn't stand him, so Nolan had to go.
In ninety-nine the Sabres went deep, so close to the cup.
But cheating Hull scored in the crease and the window to win was shut.
Tired of doing everything, all on his own,
The goalie went to Detroit, and made it his home.
Stevie Y and Nick Lidstrom, truly an all star team!
Assembled with a budget Darcy Regier would never see.
Finally the cup was his, carried over his head,
Later he'd steal Cujo's job, and his career would soon be dead.
Six Vezinas and two Harts, just some window dressing,
The reason he is the best can be a bit depressing.
The year was ninety-eight, NHLers in Nagano,
Team Canada the favourite, all ready to go.
Staying up to watch the game, who could possibly sleep?
Hasek is our bogeyman, he made the nation (and Wayne) weep.
2) Spleentastic (Peter Forsberg, is that you?)
Forget the statistics, the Olympic gold, the Stanley Cups, even the Vezinas.
Dominik Hasek is the best of all time is because of his ability to implode the minds of his opponents.
Everything Hasek did, every movement, was organized around a singular purpose: the save. It was an instinctive reaction from a being who had seemingly evolved solely to stop pucks. Every motion felt like act of apparent desperation, like a mother protecting her cubs. No resource went untapped - legs, arms, skates, sticks, and faces were all willingly employed.
The sheer savageness of Hasek's ability was mind-melting. Opponents often became frustrated, feeling like they had beat him only to be ruthlessly rejected. This was fully evident during the 1998 Winter Olympics versus Canada. You could sense the trepidation among Canadian shooters, culminating in Eric Lindros' shootout attempt. Lindros needed perfection, but he knew that perfection may not be enough. Even at his absolute best, confidence began to erode, and however slight it may have been, it was enough - the matchup had already swung in Hasek's favour.
That was the Dominator's ultimate talent: the ability to weaken the other team's emotional strength. Teams would see him warming up, and at that moment just the tiniest modicum of doubt would manifest itself. As the game progressed, he would feed that doubt, eating away the professional veneer of confidence.
Domink Hasek is the best of all time because he could affect the game like no other goaltender before or since.
3) Doulos (with an outside-the-box selection);
The Great One's Nemesis
I was a spoiled child of 8 years old when I watched Kent Nilsson crumple to the ice from a two-handed slash in the hands of Ron Hextall. While my ire for him reached a degree that only an 8 year old Oiler fans can reach, my respect for his skills as a goaltender rose as well.
Gretzky said that he was the greatest goaltender he had ever played against, and his Conn Smythe performance in the 86-87 playoffs were a thing to behold. A below average junior player, scouts shied away, labelling him "loony" and yet he exuded a confidence that led to a stellar career at both the AHL and NHL levels.
Hextall's puck handling and aggressive tactics shaped the developement of goalies such as Martin Brodeur and his goal-scoring on the PK, in the playoffs, and twice in the regular season, are yet to be matched.
With blood on his jersey he would rack up the most penalty minutes by a goaltender in the regular season in NHL history, and once fought three players in one game - at the same time (though granted at the AHL level).
Hextall's across the board skills with the puck, between the pipes, and with his fists, give him my nod for the greatest goalie of all time.