“You’re an old goalie,” Paddy said as he slid into his seat at the coffee shop.
“If you mean I’m an old guy who used to play goal,” I allowed, “you’re right.”
“And how long have you been watching NHL hockey?” he asked.
“Sixty years,” I replied, wondering where this was going.
“So,” Paddy said, clarifying exactly where the conversation was going, “how would you rank the top five goalies you’ve seen play?”
“As far as sheer talent goes,” I told him, a toss-up between Hall and Sawchuk for number one. But I’d rank Hall number one because he was more consistent.”
“I can live with that,” Paddy said, “but what about Bill Durnan?”
“I never saw Durnan play,” I said, “but the late Frank Selke Jr., told me he’d rank Durnan right there with Hall and Sawchuk.”
“OK,” Paddy urged, “carry on.”
“I rank Brodeur number three,” I continued, “Hasek number four and Roy number five.”
“How in hell,” Paddy fumed, “can you rate Dominik Hasek ahead of Patrick Roy?”
“Because he was a better goalie,” I said.
“I don’t know how you can say that,” Paddy continued to fume. “Look at trophies won. Roy won three Conn Smythe awards as the playoff MVP. Hasek won none.”
“Hasek won the Hart Trophy for being the season’s most valuable player twice,” I countered, “Roy never won it.”
“You will acknowledge,” Paddy assumed, “that the Jennings and the Vezina are the two top awards for goalies.”
“I will,” I agreed.
“Well,” Paddy said, calming down a bit, “Roy won the Jennings five times and the Vezina three times.”
“True,” I said, “but Hasek won the Jennings three times and the Vezina six times. That’s nine wins to eight in favour of Hasek. And,” I added, “four of Roy’s wins came when Hasek wasn’t in the NHL. But for every one of Hasek’s trophy wins he beat out Roy.”
I paused to take a sip of coffee and then added, “Hasek won the Lester B Pearson Award twice and Roy never won it. So in total awards, it’s Hasek thirteen to eleven. And in years when they both played, Hasek leads thirteen to seven. No contest as far as I’m concerned.”
“What kind of piddling award is the Lester B Pearson?” Paddy mocked. “I watched the NHL awards show this year and don’t remember it being awarded.”
“That,” I told him, “is because it’s now called the Ted Lindsay Award, and it’s not exactly piddling. It’s awarded to the most outstanding player during the regular season. And,” I added, “because it’s voted on by the players themselves, while the Smythe is voted on by non-players, I can make a case that Hasek’s Pearson wins are every bit as impressive as Roy’s Smythe wins.”
“I suppose,” Paddy challenged, “you being a numbers guy as well as an old goalie, you’ve got some more ammunition.”
“Yep,” I assured him, “Hasek had a better lifetime goals against average, a better lifetime save percentage, and more shutouts.”
Still not ready to give up, Paddy feebly offered, “Roy had more wins.”
“That’s because he played longer,” I suggested. “On a percentage basis, Roy won 53.5% of his games while Hasek won 52.9%. The difference is minuscule.”
As Paddy got up to leave he muttered, “A damn old goalie and a numbers guy to boot.”
(Editorial note: Thanks to my son Alan for pointing out Haseks’s dominance in trophy wins during years in which he and Roy went head to head.)