There are five goalies who’ve managed to rank in the top 25 for career wins while playing for six teams or more. Let’s take a look back at those five travelling netminders.
hen we think of history’s best goaltenders, we tend to immediately picture them in a certain uniform. Like anyone else, goalies can occasionally be traded or hit free agency. But we like to think of the great goalies as being tied to one team, maybe two at the most. Martin Brodeur was a Devil. Patrick Roy was a Canadien, then an Av. Dominik Hasek, with apologies to the Red Wings, will always be a Sabre. And Hall-of-Fame talents from Bill Durnan to Ken Dryden to Henrik Lundqvist spent their entire careers with one franchise.
But that’s not always how it works out. Every now and then, a goalie comes along who ends up spending his career jumping from team-to-team, even as they’re building an all-star resume. In fact, there are five goalies who’ve managed to rank in the top 25 for career wins while playing for six teams or more. Let’s take a look back at those five travelling netminders, and some of the stops you may not remember them making.
He was best known as: The Oilers’ starting goaltender for much of their late-80s dynasty. Fuhr won four Cup rings, to go with a Vezina and two seasons leading the league in wins. His numbers were never jaw-dropping, and they look awful compared to modern day goalies (he was runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 1988 with an .881 save percentage). But he developed a reputation as a guy who would always make the big save when it mattered, and no less than Wayne Gretzky has called him the greatest goalie of all-time.
You might also remember him as: A Toronto Maple Leaf during the early days of the Cliff Fletcher rebuild, a Buffalo Sabre who helped them to their first playoff series win in a decade in 1993, and a St. Louis Blue who nearly started every game for an entire season because Mike Keenan was a crazy person.
But he also managed to play for: The Flames and the Kings. OK, a quick stint in Los Angeles was pretty much mandatory for every ex-Oiler of that era, so maybe that’s not surprising. But Fuhr stuck around long enough to suit up in a forgotten 1999-2000 season for the Calgary Flames at the tail end of his career, spending most of the year backing up Fred Brathwaite.
He was best known as: That’s a tough call, but let’s go with his four years in Toronto, where he helped transform Pat Quinn’s Maple Leafs from also-ran to Cup contender almost overnight. He was a Vezina finalist twice, and was good enough to head into the 2002 Winter Olympics as the starter for Team Canada. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. Well, other than argue with a referee without accidentally tackling him.
You might also remember him as: He broke in with the Blues in the early 90s, highlighted by a dominant playoff run in 1993. From there it was off to Edmonton, where he only spent three years but will always be remembered for almost single-handedly beating the Dallas Stars in an epic 1997 playoff series. And then there were the two seasons in Detroit, which are best remembered for him being the scapegoat in a playoff loss and then victimized by Dominik Hasek’s unretirement.
But he also managed to play for: Like Fuhr, Joseph also snuck in a shady season with the Flames, starting five games in 2007-08. And then there was his two-year stint in Phoenix right after the 2005 lockout. Although in fairness, pretty much everyone did that, with names ranging from Brett Hull to Mike Ricci to Petr Nedved to Owen Nolan making cameos on those weird Coyotes teams.
He was best known as: The legendary Montreal Canadiens goalie who racked up six Vezinas with the Habs and six Stanley Cups through the 50s and 60s.
You might also remember him as: His longest post-Canadiens stint came in Toronto in the early 70s. He also played two years with the Rangers, and two more with the expansion Blues (during which he won another Vezina).
But he also managed to play for: The Boston Bruins in 1973, which you could be forgiven for not remembering since he was 44 years old and only appeared in eight games. And that wasn’t even the end of the road for the future Hall of Famer. After a year off, he headed to the WHA and played 31 games for the Edmonton Oilers during the 1974-75 season, during which he turned 46.
He was best known as: The twelve years he spent with the Penguins from 1988 to 2000, during which he backstopped the team to two Stanley Cups. Here’s a random Tom Barrasso fun fact: During his first season as a Penguin, he set an all-time record that still stands for most PIM by a goaltender who wasn’t Ron Hextall.
You might also remember him as: Before arriving in Pittsburgh, Barrasso spent six years in Buffalo. The first of those came in 1983-84, when he broke in as an 18-year-old rookie and won the Calder and the Vezina, a feat that’s pretty much unequalled in NHL history.
But he also managed to play for: Four other teams for like a week each. That’s only barely an exaggeration. You might recall his brief stint in Ottawa, which was mainly remembered for the time he swore on Hockey Night in Canada. But did you know he played for the Blues for six games in 2002? Or that he played for the Hurricanes for half a season in 2001? Or that the Hurricanes traded him to the Maple Leafs so he could back up Joseph for four games? If not, it’s OK. I’m pretty sure Barrasso himself doesn’t even remember at least two of those.
He was best known as: Let’s go with his first four seasons in New Jersey, including a rookie year in which he played 13 games and still somehow finished tied with Ray Bourque for eighth in MVP voting. He also established a reputation as a guy you did not want to fight, although more than a few goalies forgot that lesson over the years.
You might also remember him as: After his time in New Jersey, he went on to spend five years in Hartford, followed by part of one in Carolina after the franchise moved.
But he also managed to play for: Everyone else. Let’s start with the Coyotes, where he spent five years (not counting his later role as goaltending coach). You probably remember that one. But what about his parts of two season in Florida? A half season in Los Angeles? A year in Tampa Bay? Not one but two separate stints in Philadelphia? A partial season with the Seattle Metropolitans? Sixteen games with the Canucks?
OK, I made one of those up. But the point is that Burke got around. He switched teams nine times over the course of his career, including five trades, two free agent signings, a waiver claim and a franchise relocation. And that’s not counting the 1991-92 season he split between the San Diego Gulls and the Canadian Olympic team during a contract dispute.
Burke was pretty much the most travelled halfway decent goaltender of all-time. Is there anything wrong with that? (Re-watches old Burke fight clips.) If there is, I’m sure not saying so.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.