Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, and email. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
Tuukka Rask is one of those love-‘em-or-hate-‘em players where there seems to be no middle ground with Bruins fans. That’s probably because he hasn’t won a Cup and he kind of fell apart against the Blackhawks in 2013, because in the big picture he’s been one of the better goalies in team history (he’s the all-time wins leader). I don’t think he’d get many votes as the best, but who is the best? — Jordan F.
You mean besides Blaine Lacher? Gotta go with fellow Black Bear Matt DelGuidice then. Imagine we’re all in agreement, yes? Good. Next question …
You know, Rask has a case. He’s been here 12 years. The only goalie who had a tenure as long is Gerry Cheevers, and that had a WHA hiatus in the middle. Rask is the all-time leader in games played (495) and wins (265). He has the same percentage as Tim Thomas (.921). We probably don’t talk enough about what a heist the Andrew Raycroft-for-Rask deal was way back in June 2006.
But we know what is missing from his resume – a Stanley Cup victory in which he was the primary goalie. (He, of course, backed up the otherworldly Thomas during the magical 2010-11 Cup run.) Because of that, he can’t be No. 1. Thomas will get some support, but he was just here eight years.
An argument can be made for Tiny Thompson, who won 252 games from 1929-39 with a 1.99 goals-against average. He was the goalie for the Bruins’ first Cup winner. His successor, Frank Brimsek (1939-49), also has a case (230 wins, third-most for a Bruin). But I have a hard time choosing a goalie who played in the days when electricity was still a relatively newfangled concept and goalie masks were nothing but a wimpy goalie’s daydream.
My choice would be Cheevers, and only partially because I’m a child of the ‘70s and he had the coolest mask this side of the Phantom of the Opera. He’s fourth in wins in Bruins history and fifth in games played during a Boston career that spanned from 1965-72 and again from 1975-80. He was the primary goalie on the 1970 Cup winners and split the job in the postseason with Eddie Johnston for the ’72 champs, going a combined 18-3 in those two championship postseasons. When in doubt, go with the Big, Bad Bruin.
But what does everyone else think? Who is the greatest goalie in Bruins’ history? I’ll hear you in the comments.