Looking through the world of sports, everyone experiences some degree of stress and pressure, but the goaltending position is something special when it comes to stress. Whether we’re talking soccer or hockey (just for two examples of popular sports with goalies) guarding the net is an important job and is not suited for just anyone.
While a soccer ball (football, whatever) can get going absurdly fast, and the position is still difficult and stressful, tending the pipes on the ice is a different task altogether. Obviously spacial awareness is important for the purposes of angles and knowing where you are in relation to your net. Then there is the necessity of snap reflexes, and being able to react to something being launched at you is one’s bread and butter. Finally, there are constant judgment calls: do you leave the crease and play the puck or let the defensemen deal with it, while staring down a guy on a breakaway: he goes to deke, do you poke-check or sprawl (or both).
Basically, this is a perfect position for a masochist who likes having chunks of hard rubber fired at their head while being the last line of defense for his team. The sign of a true gem between the pipes however, is a ‘tender who can steal games. When the team plays like garbage but the man in the extra padding stands on his head and earns the win: that is a goalie’s job every game, but it is still a tough thing to pull off. However, goalies who can pull this kind of thing off on a regular basis at the professional level are exactly the guys for whom the Vezina Trophy exists. Handed out every year to the best goaltender in the NHL, some guys like Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, and Martin Brodeur are synonymous with this award and we all remember their playing careers, others won it once in their careers and then disappeared into relative anonymity. Here are fifteen former Vezina winners and what they’ve been up to in their retirement.
15 Jose Theodore
Opening up our list at number fifteen is a goalie whose career started in 1995 and ended just a few years ago in 2013. Jose Theodore spent most of his time with the Canadiens, along with a few years in Colorado, and then two years in Washington, one season in Minnesota with the Wild and finally a couple of years in Florida. He won the Vezina in 2002 when he and the Habs made it to the semi finals before losing a 4-2 series to the Carolina Hurricanes, who would go on to lose in the Cup finals to dominant Red Wings squad.
Theodore also won the Hart Trophy (MVP) and his .931 from that year is good enough for a tie at 14th all time in season save percentage. After his retirement he wasn't out of the game for long and as sports fans from Quebec will know, he got hired by TVA in early 2014 to work as an analyst.
14 Bernie Parent
Bernie Parent spent four years in Philadelphia in the late 60's before a couple of seasons with the Maple Leafs and then a single year in the World Hockey Association, before returning to the Flyers, and guarding the net during the team's days as the "Broad Street Bullies," roughing up the league and winning back to back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. He won the Vezina in those two years as well.
In 1979 he took a stick to the eye (masks were ineffective at the time, and this incident in part caused a change to better protection throughout the sport), and while he didn't lose his sight permanently, he was never able to see well enough to continue his career. He retired at 34.
This was hard to take and while he did work for several years as a goalie coach for the Flyers, being instrumental in the careers of goalies like Pelle Lindbergh and Ron Hextall, he started drinking heavily after his career prematurely ended; a demon he was able to kick with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous.
These days he is enjoying his celebrity status among the greatest Flyers of all time, and serves several charitable organizations in the Philly area, along with offering his wit and public speaking charisma to numerous events in the area.
13 Dominik Hasek
Okay, so maybe Dominik Hasek isn't anywhere near forgotten, but he certainly hasn't been living a public life like Brodeur or Roy since he left the league.
From the early 1990s until his retirement in 2008, there were few goalies as difficult to beat as the Dominator. His mask may have looked ridiculous, and he often looked like he was suffering from a demonic possession for his flailing around on the ice, but one can't argue with results. Six Vezina Trophies, two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and two of each in terms of the Hart Trophy (player most valuable to their team) and Lester B. Pearson Award (now Ted Lindsay Award for most outstanding player according to the NHLPA) round out some of his accomplishments.
Since his retirement from NHL action, he played a year in the Czech Extraliga and a four-game stint in the KHL before finally calling it quits. He lives a quiet life now, and according to an interview in 2014, he preferred to play defense in his recreational hockey league back in the Czech Republic.
12 Glenn Hall
Not many goaltenders have the kind of affect on the game that Glenn Hall did. We just discussed Hasek, of course, whose "flop" style was all his own. That hasn't become the "go-to" style by any means, and many net minders who try it look like fools. Glenn Hall, in contrast, is widely considered to be the pioneering fellow who started the butterfly style, used universally today. Glenn Hall played for the Red Wings, Blackhawks, and later the Blues between 1952 and 1971.
Tough as nails (it was a different time with no masks for much of his playing career), Hall played 502 straight games, a record among NHL goalies. He won three Stanley Cups as well (one with the Wings and one with the Hawks) and three Vezina Awards in the 1960s. After his retirement he remained a member of the hockey community, working with the Blues as a goalie coach and later offering his knowledge to the Calgary Flames as a goalie coach and scouting consultant. Most of his post-retirement time has been spent at his 155 acre family farm in Stony Plain, Alberta. He has owned this magnificent property for over 50 years and from the sounds of it, Mr. Goalie has a real slice of paradise out there.
11 Tim Thomas
Former Bruin Tim Thomas took home the Vezina Award in both 2009 and 2011. A relative late-bloomer, these awards both came while he was in his mid 30s. In 2011, in fact, he won the Vezina, Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) and of course Lord Stanley's Cup, the first goalie to win all three since Bernie Parent (more on him later). After this brilliant season, in which he won 35 of 59 games started, and posted a .938 save percentage, he stirred up some controversy by skipping the White House visit, citing disgust in the state of government in the United States, and earning the ire of liberal hockey fans everywhere.
Since his retirement, his life has been quiet for the most part, but he runs week-long hockey camps in northeastern states (Maine and Vermont, mostly) throughout the year. He has also created the Tim Thomas Foundation, which provides support to causes including medical research, food banks, disaster relief and education for young people.
10 Johnny Bower
Now in his '90s, Toronto Maple Leaf legend Johnny Bower may not have the most exciting retirement story, but the tale of his career is one that requires telling. These days he's living a very quiet life in Toronto with his wife of almost seven decades, Nancy, but according to her, crowds often form and people want to shake his hand almost anytime he is spotted in public. What can we say, Torontonians have no choice but to remember the good ol' days of the franchise being a winner.
Before his NHL career, Bower served in the Canadian Army but was discharged during World War II for medical reasons. He played in the AHL for almost a decade before actually getting his NHL debut, which was with the New York Rangers at almost age thirty. He played until age 45, and became the oldest hockey player, as his last game was in the 1969 season with the Leafs (that record was since broken by Gordie Howe and Chris Chelios). His career involved four Stanley Cups, all with the Leafs throughout the 60's and of course, two Vezina Awards. After his retirement, he worked for the team as a goalie coach and scout, but left these positions in the early 1990s and has been a Toronto-area celebrity ever since.
9 Jim Carey
If there is one thing we hate to say about former Washington Capitals "net detective" Jim Carey, it is that we didn't see very much of him as a starter in the NHL. Drafted 32nd in 1992 by the Caps, he spent two years with the Wisconsin Badgers before taking over in Washington for the shortened 1994-95 season, winning 18 of 28 games, and posting a .913 save percentage.
The next year, he won 35 with nine shutouts and a .906, which was enough to snag the 1996 Vezina. The following year, he was not the same goalie; his quick drop from prominence's cause remains somewhat unclear to this day, but most have accepted it was a combination of minor injuries and a genuine loss of interest in playing pro hockey. He played a few more years, primarily as a backup, before calling it quits in 1999, at age 25.
He earned a business degree and started his own business: OptiMed Billing Solutions, a company that provides streamlines billing services and systems to companies in the medical field (if the name wasn't enough of a hint). He still owns this company, serving as President and CEO, and has offices in Sarasota and Boston.
8 Olaf Kolzig
The first African-born player to ever play in the NHL, Olaf Kolzig was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but took his parents' German citizenship. The Washington Capitals picked him up in the first round of the 1989 draft and by 1995 he was gunning for the starting job, which he finally earned in the 1997-98 season, during which he was also instrumental in taking the Caps to the Stanley Cup, where they were trounced in four games by the then-powerhouse Red Wings.
Two years later, after posting a career-high 41 wins in the 1999-00 season, he was awarded the Vezina Trophy. He stuck around for many more seasons before retiring, following some injury trouble after being picked up by Tampa Bay as a backup.
He's been involved with the Capitals' organization since his retirement, working in player development, and as the lead goalie coach. Of the ice he's a spokesman for autism awareness, and works as a motivational speaker in the D.C. area.
7 Ron Hextall
Ron Hextall was one of those crazy goalies who redefined a part of the position. He was the first goalie to be impressive in terms of his work with the puck on his stick. If an opposing forecheck wasn't diligent and careful, Hextall was essentially a third defenseman in his own zone. For those who miss old-school hockey, when people fought and wailed on each other and nobody threw a hissy fit, we'll never forget watching this 1987 (his rookie year, by the way) Vezina winner chase down anyone who tried to mess with him outside his crease, whether it was throwing a few haymakers with the blocker, or just smacking someone in the face with the paddle of his stick. Ah, memories.
We figure most Philadelphia Flyers fans will know this already, along with most zealous NHL fans to begin with, but many hockey fans may not know what became of him. Ron Hextall has spent his time since retiring from on-ice competition on the management side of the game. He worked for a few years as a scout for the Flyers, before getting promoted to Director of Player Personnel, and then went over to the L.A. Kings in 2006, where he was a VP and Assistant GM until 2012, when they won the Stanley Cup, and he subsequently took on the Assistant GM and Director of Hockey Operations positions with the Flyers for the start of the 2013 season. The following year, he was promoted to General Manager, the position he has to this day.
6 John Vanbiesbrouck
The goalie with the most wins of all time among American net-minders is John Vanbiesbrouck, who won the Vezina Trophy back in 1986, with the New York Rangers. In the '90s he went to Florida and had hit and miss success with the Panthers. He retired from playing in the NHL in 2002, and just a year later, took over as head coach of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League. His time there didn't last long as he was forced to resign in disgrace after calling team captain Trevor Daley (now with Pittsburgh) the N-bomb in front of a pair of teammates.
He came out of this incident alright and took several broadcasting jobs throughout the rest of the 2000s. In 2013 he purchased part of the Muskegon Lumberjacks int he United States Hockey League, and remains the general manager of that club.
5 Grant Fuhr
A few months ago, former Edmonton Oilers goalie, and one of the reasons they won five Stanley Cups between the early 1980s and 1990, was honored as one of the greatest hockey players of all time by NHL.com. For those who don't recall those days, Fuhr was a seven-time All-Star in the 1980s and earned one Vezina award, for his stellar performance in the 1987-88 season; one of the Oilers' Stanley Cup years.
His performance in the '90s didn't drop off quite as much as his critics may have suggested back then, but he wasn't the same goalie after the '80s. By the time he was playing with the Leafs, Sabres and Blues, his career was marred by controversy, due to an alleged cocaine issue, and the fact that he was denied membership to a Buffalo-area golf course, possibly (probably) because of his race.
After his retirement he worked for the Calgary Flames, and later the Phoenix Coyotes as a goalie coach, but his coaching career ended before the 2010 season. Since then he has made a reputation for himself as one of the best golfers among former NHL players, and has written a book about his experience between the pipes in the NHL: Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend.
4 Tom Barrasso
While Pittsburgh fans may remember Bostonian net-minder Tom Barrasso most fondly for his play during the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup runs for the Penguins, some forget that he won the Vezina and Calder (rookie of the year) trophies back in 1984 as an NHL rookie, the youngest to ever win these awards, having done so at age 18.
While he always had the reputation for being a jerk to teammates (one that was spread by fellow players as well as the media to an extent), one couldn't deny that for a few years he was among the best clutch goaltenders in the league. There is also the important fact that his young daughter did have a battle with cancer in the early 90's when some of these rumors were the strongest, which sheds some light on a possible source of stress and anguish. He started a charitable organization to fund cancer research in that time as well; she made it as well, after a lot of chemo and a lengthy operation.
After he retired from playing, he spent five years as the Carolina Hurricanes' goalie coach and more recently, took his skills to the KHL in 2012, where he remained until a couple of years ago, when he became head coach of HC Valpellice in the Italian league (winning the 2016 Coppa Italia) and as of 2017, took a head coaching job with HC Asiago in the Alps Hockey League (Italian, Slovenian, and Austrian teams).
3 Don Edwards and Bob Sauvé
Why list these two together? Well, between the 1964-65 season and the 81-82 seasons, teams often played two goalies regularly throughout the season and generally the team that allowed the fewest goals would have the Vezina awarded to their two (or three in the case of 1979-80) goalies. In 1979-80, Buffalo Sabres' goalies Bob Sauvé and Don Edwards split the award. Both are in their 60's now, but both remains active in hockey during their retirement.
Sauvé worked for the New Jersey Devils' alumni association for a few years and also worked as a goalie coach. Most notably however, he's been a well-respected agent for decades, with clientele that has included Vincent Lecavalier, Pierre Turgeon, Simon Gagné, and Patrick Roy.
Edwards worked as a goalie coach for the Carolina Hurricanes, and worked as an assistant coach for the Kings. Unfortunately, Edwards has been in the media in the last few years for a very painful reason. His parents were killed in the early 1990's by his sister's ex-boyfriend, George Lovie. Edwards' sister Michele made it through the ordeal alive, despite being the intended target. Lovie received three life sentences, but was granted a supervised day away from prison last year. Don Edwards and his remaining family members were infuriated by this, as Lovie has said before that he had wanted to kill all three that day. Edwards has been leading the charge to keep his parents' killer behind bars, and has expressed disbelief and anger that the Canadian justice system has considered granting him parole.
2 Ken Dryden
Here's a history lesson for the young kids out there: Ken Dryden was the brick wall behind the Montreal Canadiens for seven seasons in the 1970s, when they won six Stanley Cups. He earned five Vezina Trophies during this time as well. His entrance to the league was somewhat unique, as he took over for veteran goalie Rogie Vachon around the end of the season in 1971, and led the team, as a rookie and relative unknown to a Stanley Cup victory in the playoffs that year.
While most former hockey players have a steady schedule after their playing careers are over, not many have been as busy as former Canadien Ken Dryden. He's written several books; some of which have focused on hockey and others on social issues such as the Canada's education system and Canada's place within the global community. He spent a few years as the President of the Toronto Maple Leafs but resigned from that position in 2004, when he decided to run for political office. In 2004 he was elected to the House of Commons in Canadian Parliament for the Liberal Party, and kept his position until 2011.
1 Ed Belfour
We saved what we think is the most awesome retirement story for last.
"Eddie the Eagle" was a first ballot Hall of Fame selection in 2011, and with good reason. The Calder Memorial Trophy, two Vezina awards, six All-Star game appearances and of course, the 1999 Stanley Cup ring from his time with the Dallas Stars, amount to more than enough for us to say he had an incredible career.
After his final year in the NHL with Florida, he played a season in Europe before calling it quits in the professional leagues. He's known for being a car enthusiast and used to own a business that rebuilt old cars named Carman Custom, but it is unclear whether he still operated this company.
Anyone who knows about Belfour's experience off the ice knows that he's had a couple of run-ins with the law while intoxicated. The man likes to have a drink, and reportedly offered a cop $1 billion to let him go after being arrested in Dallas. Being a fan of the sauce, he and his son are in the process of setting up a distillery in Little Elms (a Dallas suburb), Texas, that will be known as Belfour Spirits. The idea for this initiative came to them one evening while having a drink together. We feel that we can say very safely that having a dad like Eddie the Eagle sounds pretty awesome.
The distillery will also likely have a bar and in an interview, Ed himself said that he hopes to create gin, whiskey, and vodka to start, but may move to try rum and tequila eventually.
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