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Top 100 Goalies: No. 61 — Bill Ranford

He was held back by crowded creases, but when Ranford got his opportunity, he was crazy good.

We live in an era of constant second-guessing over starting goaltending assignments. Bill Ranford’s career arc thus feels oddly ahead of its time.

He came up in the mid-1980s with Boston, touted in the pages of The Hockey News by Bruins GM Harry Sinden as “our goalie of the future.” Ranford was a standup goaltender in a time when butterfly was breaking out as the popular style. The contending Bruins wanted a veteran starter for their championship push, so they acquired 28-year-old Andy Moog from Edmonton, sending 21-year-old Ranford the other way. That left Ranford stuck behind star Grant Fuhr in the middle of Edmonton’s dynasty years. A shoulder injury to Fuhr in 1989-90, however, changed Ranford’s life.

Thrust into huge responsibility on a team trying to prove it could still rule the world after Wayne Gretzky’s trade to Los Angeles, Ranford elevated his play. He caught fire in the 1990 playoffs with one of the most memorable, acrobatic runs of goaltending in NHL history. Ranford played 1,402 of the Oilers’ 1,403 minutes en route to their fifth Stanley Cup. Ranford seemed to make a jaw-dropping desperation save every game. He was an easy choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Ranford had to battle for playing time the next year with Fuhr healthy. The Oilers rectified their crease by trading Fuhr to Toronto before 1991-92.

Ranford was in the discussion for the world’s best goalie in the early 1990s. He started for Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup, going undefeated, posting a .939 save percentage and winning tournament MVP. Much of his prime ended up wasted on some weak Oilers teams during the infamous fire-sale years.

Ranford will always have that 1990 playoff run, however, and it doesn’t feel like a coincidence that he’s spent the past decade as goalie coach to someone with a similarly epic post-season history: Jonathan Quick.

Born: Dec. 14, 1966, Brandon, Man.
NHL Career: 1985-2000
Teams: Bos, Edm, Wsh, TB, Det
Stats: 240-279-76, 3.41 GAA, .888 SP, 15 SO
Trophies: 1 (Smythe-1)
Stanley Cups: 1

DID YOU KNOW?

At 37, Ranford was a stunt goalie for the 2004 movie Miracle, standing in for actor Eddie Cahill, who played 1980 U.S. Olympian Jim Craig. Ranford took a puck to the head during filming and was cut for five stitches.

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