Unlike Cecil ‘Tiny’ Thompson, Roy ‘Shrimp’ Worters came by his nickname honestly. He was, and it’s pretty safe to say always will be, the smallest goaltender in NHL history. He played at 5-foot-3 and 135 pounds.
Nobody, however, stood taller for bad teams than Worters did. He was the first goaltender to win the Hart Trophy. He remains the only goalie in NHL history to win the Vezina Trophy for a non-playoff team. But he never won a Stanley Cup. In fact, he only made it to the post-season four times in his 12-year career. In one playoff series, he allowed one goal in two games and still lost because the goal came in double overtime and his New York Americans lost the series 1-0 in two games on total goals. “I remember (former teammate) Lorne Carr once saying, ‘Of course ‘Shrimp’ was a stand-up goalie. If he wasn’t you wouldn’t be able to f---in’ find him,’ ” said hockey historian Bob Duff. “He played for some horrible, horrible teams. (The Americans) were kind of the Cleveland Browns of the NHL. They just couldn’t do anything right and the fact it was run by gangsters didn’t help.”
Before reaching the NHL, Worters won a Memorial Cup with Toronto in 1920 and two U.S. Amateur League titles with Pittsburgh in 1924 and 1925. That gave Worters his entry into the NHL when the Pittsburgh Pirates joined in 1925 and basically turned their amateur team into an NHL outfit.
Despite his size, Worters was not hesitant about crossing swords with management. A contract dispute with Pittsburgh led to his trade to the Americans in 1928, and lore has it that in a contract dispute with Americans owner Bill Dwyer, a gangster who spent two years in prison, Worters would not relent until he got his $8,500 a season, which made him the league’s highest-paid goalie.
Born: Oct. 19, 1900, Toronto, Ont.
NHL Career: 1925-37
Teams: Pit, NYA, Mtl
Stats: 171–230-82, 2.27 GAA, 67 SO
All-Star: 2 (Second-2)
Trophies: 2 (Hart-1, Vezina-1)
DID YOU KNOW?
Worters never got his name on the Stanley Cup, but he did play for a Cup winner. Worters appeared in one game for Montreal in 1929-30 when George Hainsworth was hurt. The Habs went on to win the Cup that season.