Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Top Twelve Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending Tandems Since 1970

Special thanks for this post goes out to Vintage Leafs and Goalie Cards for providing most of the pictures below. The rest were found using Google Images.

#12. 1990-91 Peter Ing and Jeff Reese

Peter Ing 16-29-8 3.84
Jeff Reese 6-13-3 3.86

Okay, this tandem was pretty brutal and easy to forget about. The only pair that ranks lower in my mind is the awful combination of Raycroft and Tellqvist - who didn't make the list and come in dead last. Reese would eventually find a place for himself in Maple Leafs' lore by being included in the Gilmour-trade with Calgary. Peter Ing, meanwhile, disappeared into wikibscurity.

#11. 1982-83 Mike Palmateer and Michel Larocque

Mike Palmateer 21-23-7 3.99
Michel Larocque 3-8-11 4.89

These two make the list based on name-recognition and not their stats. Palmateer's comeback was less then sparkling, barely able to keep his goals-against under 4 through 51 decisions. "Bunny" Larocque, meanwhile, had a cool nickname and a cool helmet, but really wasn't a very good goaltender, able to win only 3 out of 22 decisions. Ouch. This pairing didn't last long as Larocque was traded to the Flyers for Rick St. Croix midway through the season.

#10. 1986-87 Ken Wregget and Allan Bester

Ken Wregget 22-28-3 3.97
Allan Bester 10-14-3 3.65

Despite their crummy statistics, this duo is often fondly remembered. The Leaf teams they played for were rock-bottom terrible and this tandem were often required to stand on their heads just to keep the games respectable. Both goalies, however, brought an attitude of "gamesmanship" to the ice, that sometimes produced stunning and spectacular saves at completely meaningless moments of games long out of reach. The stats above are actually from their best season together; the following year they would combine for an astonishing 20 wins and 47 losses.

#9. 1971-72 Bernie Parent and Jacques Plante

Bernie Parent 17-18-9 2.56
Jacques Plante 16-13-5 2.63

I'll be honest, I don't know much about this pair or this season. I recognize their names but I never saw them play in Leaf uniforms. Parent played one season as a back up and then one season as the Leafs' starting goaltender, with the 42-year old Plante as his back up. Parent would then jump to the newly formed WHA for a season before Toronto traded his rights back to the Flyers, where he made a name for himself as a premier goalie and immediately won 2 Stanley Cups. The Leafs had trouble in the early '70's finding a durable, dependable unit between the pipes, but for one year, this tandem turned in a combined winning record and kept their goals-against under 2.65.

#8. 1976-77 Mike Palmateer and Wayne Thomas
#7. 1975-76 Wayne Thomas and Gord McRae

#6. 1977-78 Mike Palmateer and Gord McRae


Mike Palmateer(77) 23-18-8 3.21
Wayne Thomas(77) 10-13-6 3.86

Wayne Thomas(76) 28-24-12 3.19
Gord McRae(76) 6-5-2 3.70

Mike Palmateer(78) 34-19-9 2.74
Gord McRae(78) 7-10-1 3.29

So, I'm cheating a little by doing the next 3 all in one paragraph. Positions 6, 7, and 8 on the list are the same 3 players in three different pair-sets over three consecutive years. In '76, Palmateer arrived on the scene with his infamous declaration that the Maple Leaf "hunt for a goaltender is over". His style was flashy and acrobatic and highly entertaining, making him instantly popular. He was young and talented and fun to watch. The previous year's starter, Wayne Thomas was demoted to back up. While Palmateers' numbers were indeed good, Thomas' dropped off significantly, the end result being that their combined numbers were no better then the combination of Thomas and McRae from the previous season. So, for the following year, McRae reclaimed his familiar role as back up, this time behind Palmateer. That final pairing seems to have been the best fit as the duo combined to top 40 wins in 77-78.

#5. 1992-93 Grant Fuhr and Felix Potvin

Grant Fuhr 25-15-7 2.50
Felix Potvin 13-9-4 3.14

The best duo we never knew we had. This is kind of a fantasy tandem 'cause they didn't really spend that much time together, but the Cat did get in there enough to prove himself and get comfortable, eventually giving Fletcher the confidence to deal Fuhr to Buffalo for the all-important Andreychuk. Even though Fuhr was traded mid-season, I included this pair because when you look at their combined numbers from this season, they're excellent, especially Fuhr's 2.50 goals-against.

#4. 2003-04 Eddie Belfour and Trevor Kidd

Eddie Belfour 34-19-6 2.13
Trevor Kidd 6-5-2 3.26

If this list was a personality competition, this combo would win hands down. I'm really surprised there weren't more fireworks when they were around, 'cause they seem like two really fun guys that know how to have a blast. Kidd and the Eagle worked well together for a couple of years, but I picked this season because both goalies have winning records combining for over 40 wins, and Belfour's goals-against is a staggering 2.13.

#3. 1999-2000 Curtis Joseph and Glenn Healy

Curtis Joseph 36-20-7 2.49
Glenn Healy 9-10-0 3.04

Hard to argue with the success of this pair. Healy was a capable back up to the superstar Cujo and their two personalities seemed to compliment each other very well. Indeed, Joseph's confidence and passion paired with Healy's maturity and poise produced a combined 45 wins, the highest total of any tandem on this list. It was a good fit for the Leafs, and for two players who took their roles seriously.

#2. 1993-94 Felix Potvin and Damien Rhodes

Felix Potvin 34-22-9 2.89
Damien Rhodes 9-7-3 2.62

My favourite Leaf goalie of all-time paired with my favourite back up goalie of all-time. The Cat was obviously amazing in his best years, and hugely popular, while Damien Rhodes was the quiet, capable, charming and unassuming back up who provided solid relief when called upon, the way you'd expect. Their combined record speaks for itself as both goaltenders produced winning records and goals-against under 3 while combining for over 40 wins. Finally, as far as I can recall, Rhodes is the only back up goalie who ever held a press conference and cried for the media after getting traded. Every kid in Toronto was dreaming of playing with Doug Gilmour and Felix Potvin, and I guess Damien Rhodes was no different.

#1. 2009-10 Vesa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson
- - -

"What in the Bozak of Stajan is goin' on?! Have you lost your Stempniak?!" Maybe. Allow me to step out-to-lunch for a moment and PREDICT that this year's tandem is going to be the best we've seen in over three and a half decades. I must be a little loopy 'cause it makes me dizzy just thinking that. But before you go and decide to never read one of my posts ever again, let me spell out the criteria that they would need to achieve.

1) To get on the list at all, they only need to be better then Raycroft/Tellqvist and Ing/Reese.

2) Both goalies with goals-against under 3. I don't just think that's possible, I think it's a reasonable expectation for what might be a low-scoring, tight-checking team.

3) Both goalies with winning percentages. Not going to be easy, but if the Leafs are going to make the playoffs, it'll have to happen. I think it can, and I think they can do it.

And 4) Combined wins over 40. Thanks to the league's system of having a win for every game on the schedule and zero ties, this is actually easier to accomplish with a little help in the shoot-out and overtime. If they can achieve the 2nd and 3rd conditions, 40 wins is a done deal.

So, it's not really an honest list so much as a projection. Still, can you believe how much work I did just to make the point that I think the Vesa and the Monster are going to make a great tandem and have a great season? No, me neither. It took like three days.


Down Goes Brown said...

I had to go with Bester/Wregget. Somehow, I miss those days.

Did we ever figure out how the Leafs managed to trade Wregget for two first rounders?

general borschevsky said...

Always a pleasure, DGB. Thanks for voting. I didn't know that about the two first rounders. It was probably a GM that JFJ studied under. I'd also forgotten that Wregget was part of the Tocchet-for-Recchi deal and won a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh.

kidkawartha said...

Belfour and Kidd for me, partly because that was the mini-era in which I finally re-threw my whole heart in to the team.
Kidd's prodigious mass of facial hair, and my obvious love of his last name, along with how much I loved Belfour beer-swigging, muscle-car lovin' ways, seals the deal for me.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I really hope you're right about #1.

general borschevsky said...

Thanks for the comment, kid-k, and happy birthday! Eddie's personality is so much larger-then-life that he really overshadowed Kidd who is himself quite a character. Too bad that unit wasn't a few years younger when they got together.

Hey eyebleaf! It's outrageous maybe, but I think Toskala and Gustavsson are going to have a great season, and if the Leafs are going to make the playoffs, they'll need to. I don't see them letting Burke down.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic blog! Funny, Pro Set really was a shitty card brand wasn't it? I hope you are indeed right about #1. I like Gustavssons' chances and I kinda feel like Veto might hover around a low 3 GAA; however there is the chance to surprise if the work ethic is there and Gustavsson's nipping at his heels.

Can't wait!

Hungry Leafs Fan said...

I'm going with Potvin and Rhodes. Anything with Potvin is an automatic win for me.

We had some real bad goalies over the years...Raycroft, Peter Ing, Trevor Kidd...yikes!

I have faith in the Monskala though. I have a feeling that tandem will find a spot in my heart soon enough. Can't wait to see the Monster in action today or tomorrow.

general borschevsky said...

103807504! Welcome! Thanks for the kind words. Hopefully Gustavsson pushes Toskala to be a better goalie, or he just pushes him out of the way and takes the number one job on his own merit. Either way, the Leafs will have an improved starting goaltender this year.

HLF! Monskala, eh? Nice. Very nice.

. said...

That picture of Kidd is hilarious.

My sentimental vote goes to Ken and Allan. However, my logical side votes for Felix and Damien.

I too have high hopes for Joey MacDonald and Jonas Gustavsson this season. Oh, what's that you say....?

general borschevsky said...

It's Somny! Thanks, Harold. Joey Mac, eh. Never heard of him. Hope it stays that way.

cavepiggy said...

I'm so glad I found this blog!My fave tandem of the ones given was Thomas & McRae..only because Thomas was my hero when I was a little golalie myself and he sent me an autographed picture along with the autographed pics of McRae and Doug Favell from their 76 season together.But my favourite goalie of all time was Lorne Chabot who won the Leafs their first cup in 1932..only cuz he's my grampa hee hee.

Keep up the great work and I'll stick my big face in here from time to time.


general borschevsky said...

Hi Chabotsky! Welcome aboard. My pick for number one isn't lookin' so good seven games into the season. I'm impressed that you remember McRae and Thomas. And I'm twice as impressed that you're Lorne Chabot's grandson. That's quite a place in history. He is a serious Legend. Thanks for the comment and drop in again anytime.

Anonymous said...

i know it's a little late in the game but you've got fuhr and potvin mixed up statwise. Potvin had the 2.50 GAA and Fuhr had the 13-9, 3.14.