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Top 100 Goalies: No. 49 — Al Rollins

His trophy case appeared to give him a Hall-worthy resume, but the shrine never opened its doors.
HHOF Images

HHOF Images

Only one man in NHL history is Hall of Fame eligible, has won the Hart Trophy and the Stanley Cup during his career and is not enshrined in the hallowed institution: Al Rollins.

Which is fitting for a guy who went most of his career unappreciated. In his first full NHL season, he wrested Toronto’s starting job from legend Turk Broda and won the Vezina Trophy. In the playoffs, Rollins strained his knee in the first game but came back in the final to go 3-0 with all three wins coming in overtime, leading Toronto to the 1951 Stanley Cup.

But a little more than a year later, he fell out of the Leafs’ good graces and was dealt to the lowly Chicago Black Hawks for Harry Lumley. Some believe Rollins wasn’t the same goalie without Broda pushing him for playing time in Toronto. To be sure, the two could not have been more opposite on and off the ice. Broda was gregarious and easygoing. Rollins was intense and more aloof. “The Leafs obviously decided Rollins wasn’t the guy,” said hockey historian Bob Duff. “Up until he went to Chicago, his numbers were really good. And he played well in Chicago, but they were such a bad team.”

Rollins was so good and the Black Hawks were so bad that he was named the NHL’s most valuable player in 1953-54 despite going 12-47-7 with a 3.23 goals-against average, which was more than a half a goal higher than the next-highest No. 1 goalie. (Curiously, Rollins was not named to the first or second all-star team that season.)

When the subject of Hall of Fame-worthy players comes up today, Rollins is rarely mentioned despite winning some of the league’s most prestigious hardware.

Born: Oct. 9, 1926, Vanguard, Sask.
NHL Career: 1949-60
Teams: Tor, Chi, NYR
Stats: 141-205-83, 2.78 GAA, .907 SP, 28 SO
Trophies: 2 (Hart-1, Vezina-1)
Stanley Cups: 1

DID YOU KNOW?

Rollins won the ’51 Vezina playing 40 games. Detroit’s Terry Sawchuk played all 70, but the award at the time went to the goalie on the team with the fewest goals against. Toronto as a team allowed one fewer goal.

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