For some reason, goaltenders often seem to get better with age. This is true in soccer and the same can be said in ice hockey. Although the NHL will soon be celebrating its 100th birthday, there have been just 18 men over the age of 40 to play in net throughout the league’s history. Therefore, we’ll be ranking every NHL goalie who played into his 40s. Most of them were regulars and many of them can be found in the Hockey Hall of Fame. In addition, they’ve won quite a few Stanley Cups, Olympic medals, and individual awards between them.
These goalies cover just about every NHL era and many of them had to pay their dues down in the minor leagues before getting a shot at a legitimate NHL starting job. In fact, a few of them played more games in the minors than they did in the NHL. You may not have known that the great Johnny Bower actually played 40 more games (592) in the American Hockey League than he did in the NHL at 552. Some of these goalies such as Jacques Plante and Dominik Hasek kept playing pro hockey until they were 46 as they joined other leagues after retiring from the NHL.
Lester Patrick was a hockey pioneer as he played, coached, managed, owned, and helped implement rules as an official. He won six Cups in total while assuming those roles.The native of Drummondville, Quebec, played most of his career as a defenceman/rover in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association until joining the New York Rangers for two seasons in 1926-27. However, he played a grand total of just one game in the league and did it in net. He therefore makes this list as the fourth oldest goalie because he was 44 years and 100 days of age at the time. Patrick played in a 1928 Stanley Cup final contest while he was coach and GM of the Rangers. Lorne Chabot left a game in the second period with an eye injury and Patrick filled in for him, making him the oldest man to play goal in the Stanley Cup Finals. Patrick was allowed to play after Montreal Maroon's manager Eddie Gerard turned down a few other candidates to take over. Patrick ended up making 18 saves on 19 shots as his team won in overtime and the Rangers won the cup several games later.
You may never have heard of him, but Maurice Roberts was the oldest goalie to ever play in the NHL at the age of 45 years and 345 days. The native of Connecticut played just 10 games in the league with Chicago, Boston and the New York Americans. He was basically a career minor-leaguer who spent 16 years in various North American leagues. His career was put on hold when Roberts enlisted in the army during World War II. He then played one more pro season after the war. The 5-foot-9-inch goalie made his NHL debut in December of 1925 with Boston, and ironically was the youngest goalie to ever play in the league at the time as he was just 19. Harry Lumley broke the youngest-ever record 20 years later and Roberts replaced Lumley in net in November, 1951 when he couldn’t finish the final period of a game due to injury. At this point, Roberts was an assistant trainer with Chicago and the oldest player ever to appear in an NHL contest. Roberts had a 3-5 record in his 10 NHL outings along with a 3.71 goals-against average.
Hughie Lehman of Pembroke, Ontario enjoyed a 22-year professional career, but managed to appear in just 48 NHL contests during it. Lehman played 44 times for Chicago in 1926-27 and then another four contests the next season when he also served as the Blackhawks’ head coach. Lehman’s record was a respectable 20-24-4 with a goals-against average of 2.68. Nobody’s exactly sure how old Lehman was to the day when he played his last NHL game, but he’s considered to be the seventh-oldest goalie to play in the league as he was over 42 years of age. The Hall of Famer managed to win the Stanley Cup with the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1914-15. Lehman is generally regarded as being one of the first goalies to ever score a goal and pass the puck to his teammates.
At the halfway point on this list, at least when it comes to age, is Dwane Roloson, who was the ninth-oldest goalie to play in the league at the age of 42 years and 178 days. The native of Simcoe, Ontario played a total of 606 regular-season games with Tampa Bay, the New York Islanders, Edmonton, the Minnesota Wild, Buffalo, and Calgary between 1996-97 and 2011-12. He posted a record of 227-257-82 along with a 2.72 goals-against average to go lONG WITH 29 shutouts. He played for Canada in the 1995 IIHF World Junior Championships, represented his homeland in three senior World Championships, and appeared in one NHL All-Star contest. Roloson became a goaltending coach after retiring and once dressed as a backup two years later in Anaheim when starter John Gibson was injured in warm up.
Some older fans may remember watching Eddie Johnston tend goal in the NHL for Boston, Toronto, St. Louis, and Chicago between 1962-63 and 1977-78. Johnston was the 10th oldest netminder in NHL history at the age of 42 years and 136 days. He spent 11 seasons with the Bruins, one with the Maple Leafs, three-and-a-half with the Blues, and played the last four games of his career with the Blackhawks. After retiring, the native of Montreal spent numerous years as a head coach and then general manager. He’s also the NHL last goalie to play every game of the season as he played all 70 contests for Boston in 1963-64. Johnstone won a pair of Stanley Cups in Boston and finished his career with a record of 234-257-80 in 592 games with 32 shutouts and a 3.25 goals-against average.
At 40 years and 66 days old, Sean Burke is the second youngest on this list and was just 56 days older than Tim Thomas, who is the youngest. Burke, who was born in Windsor and played between the pipes for 18 NHL seasons with New Jersey, the Hartford Whalers, Carolina, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Florida, Arizona, Tampa Bay, and Los Angeles. He played 820 regular-season outings with a record of 324-341-110. Burke’s career goals-against average was 2.96 with a 90.2 save percentage and 38 shutouts. He didn’t fare as well in the playoffs as he went 12-23 in 38 games with goals-against average of 3.32. He won a silver medal with Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championships and also appeared in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Burke sat out the entire 1991-92 NHL season while with New Jersey and played for the Canadian national team instead, winning a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics.
The Bulin Wall, also known as Nikolai Khabibulin, was a Russian netminder who appeared in 799 regular-season encounters with Chicago, Edmonton, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Winnipeg. He posted a record of 333-334-97 with a goals-against average of 2.72 to go along with 46 shutouts. Nikolai Khabibulin. He played from 1994-95 to 2013-14 and appeared in 72 postseason outings with a 39-31 record, six shutouts, 2.40 goals-against average and 91.7 save percentage. He also played for his homeland in the IIHF World Juniors twice, the World Cup of Hockey and a pair of Olympic Games, being named the best goalie at the 2002 Games. The four-time All-Star also made NHL history by becoming the first Russian goalie to hoist the Stanley Cup when he helped Tampa win it back in 2004. Khabibulin is the 14th oldest goalie to play in the league as he was 40 years and 307 days old when he stopped his last shot.
Curtis Joseph, otherwise known as CuJo, was 41 years and 344 days old he played his final NHL game in 2008-09, making him the 12th oldest goalie in the league. Joseph of Keswick, Ontario played in 943 games with St. Louis, Edmonton, Toronto, Detroit, Arizona, and Calgary and also took home a gold medal from the 2002 Olympics. He is record in the regular season stood at 454-352-96 with a 2.79 goals-against average. Joseph won more games than any other goalie who failed to win a Stanley Cup. He was also the first puck stopper to win at least 30 games with five different clubs. He began his NHL career in 1989-90 and played in three NHL All-Star Games as well as several international tournaments for Canada.
Tony Esposito was the 15th-oldest NHL goalie at 40 years and 288 days of age with his stellar career spanning from 1968-69 to 1983-84. The former Rookie of the Year owns a couple of records which may never be broken with 15 shutouts as a rookie and 17 shutouts in his first 76 career games. Esposito played the first 13 games of his career with Montreal and the remainder of it with Chicago. Along with his brother and fellow Hall of Famer, Phil, the natives of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario were two of the league’s biggest stars during the 1970s. Tony played 886 regular-season games with a mark of 423-306-151 with a 2.92 goals-against average, and 76 shutouts. He played for Canada in the 1972 Summit Series and then played for the U.S. in the 1981 Canada Cup. The five-time all-star also won the Stanley Cup in 1969 as well as three Vezina Trophies.
Tim Thomas is the baby of this group as he was the youngest of the 18 goalies to play into his 40s as he was 40 years and 10 days old. He played with Boston, Florida, and Dallas and won the cup with the Bruins in 2010-11. The former Olympian and two-time All-Star from Flint, Michigan played 426 games from 2002-03 to 2013-14 with a record of 214-145-49. He had a 2.52 goals-against average, a 92.0 save percentage, and 31 shutouts. Thomas went 29-21 in 51 playoff outings with a 2.08 goals-against average. He also racked up a William M. Jennings Trophy, two Vezina Trophies, and the Conn Smythe. He was the first netminder to take home the Vezina, Conn Smythe, and Stanley Cup in the same campaign since Bernie Parent pulled it off with Philadelphia in 1974-75 and is the oldest Conn Smythe winner at the age of 37. In addition, Thomas owns the record for most saves in a single postseason with 798. Not bad for a guy who was drafted 217th and didn’t become a fulltime starter until he was 32.
When it came to playing the angles in net, Ed Belfour was one of the masters of the craft. He was the 11th-oldest netminder in NHL history at the age of 41 years and 350 days. The undrafted Belfour suited up for Chicago, San Jose, Dallas, Toronto, and Florida between 1988 and 2007 before heading to Sweden for part of a season. Belfour compiled a 484-320-125 record in 963 appearances with a 2.50 goals-against average and 76 shutouts. He was even better during postseason play with an 88-68 mark in 161 contests with a 2.17 goals-against and 14 more shutouts. The Hall of Famer from Carman, Manitoba ranks number three all-time in regular-season wins and he’s one of just three players to win an NCAA Championship, Stanley Cup, and Olympic Gold medal as Eddie the Eagle led Dallas to the cup in 1998-99, was named Rookie of the Year in 1991, won four Jennings Trophies, a pair of Vezina’s and co-holds the record for most playoff wins in a season at 16.
The maskless Lorne ‘Gump’ Worsley was an NHL star up until he was 43 years and 344 days old, making him the third-oldest goalie to play in the NHL. He played in the league from 1953 to 1974 with the New York Rangers, Montreal, and Minnesota North Stars. Worsley appeared in 861 contests with a record of 335-352-150 with a goals-against average of 2.88 and 43 shutouts. Although the ‘Gumper’ was just 5-feet-7-inches tall and appeared to be out of shape, the native of Beloeil, Quebec managed to win the Calder Trophy, four Stanley Cups, and a pair of Vezina Trophies. He played in four All-Star Games and was named to the league’s First All-Star Team in 1967-1968 and the Second Team in 1965-66. The Hall of Famer is also tied with Curtis Joseph at 352 losses for the second-most defeats in regular-season history.
Johnny Bower’s NHL career didn’t really take off until he was 34 years old. He’s the second-oldest goalie to play in the league at 45 years and 32 days of age, but was the oldest to play regularly. After reaching the age of 40, Bower managed to still win a Vezina Trophy, lead the league with a 2.38 goals-against average and helped Toronto win a Stanley Cup. In total, the Hall of Famer from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan played in 552 games from 1953-54 to 1969-70 with the New York Rangers and Toronto. Bower went 250-195-90 in the NHL with a 2.51 goals-against average and 37 shutouts. He was also 35-34 in 74 playoff outings with a 2.47 goals against and 37 shutouts. Even though his eyesight wasn’t the best, Bower won four Stanley Cups, two Vezina Trophies, and an All-Star nod in the NHL.
George Hainsworth was a Hall of Fame goalie who played in the NHL with Montreal for seven seasons, then three years with their arch rivals Toronto before splitting his final campaign between both teams. He made his NHL debut back in 1926-27 with the Habs and finished in Montreal in 1936-37. In between he played in 465 regular-season games with a sparkling record of 246-145-74 and a goals-against average of just 1.93 with 94 shutouts. Hainsworth won three straight Vezina trophies from 1927 to 1929 and won a pair of Stanley Cups with Montreal in 1930 and 1931. He stands third on the all-time shutouts list behind Martin Brodeur (125) and Terry Sawchuk, who had 103. In addition, Hainsworth posted the second-best goals-against average for a career at 1.93, ranks number one for shutouts in a season with 22 and recorded the best-ever goals-against average in a campaign at 0.92. He ranks as the 13th-oldest goalie at the age of 41 years and 177 days.
While Terry Sawchuk will be remembered by many as being one of the league’s oldest goalies, he’s actually just 16th on the list as he was 40 years and 107 days of age. Unfortunately, he passed away died shortly after the 1969-70 season ended. His NHL career kicked off in 1949-50 with Detroit and he also played with Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles, and the New York Rangers. Sawchuk went 447-330-172 in 971 games and holds the NHL record with 172 ties. He posted 103 shutouts along with a goals-against average of 2.51. He held the league record for shutouts until Martin Brodeur eclipsed it in 2009. The Hall of Famer from Winnipeg, Manitoba was named rookie of the year in195 and was a eleven-time All-Star. He also won four Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies, and a Lester Patrick Trophy. He’s generally considered to be one of the top two or three goalies ever and was also inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Czech Republic goalie Dominik Hasek played until he was 43 years and 78 days old, making the Hall of Famer the sixth-oldest in history. In fact, he kept playing until he was 46 with Spartak Moscow in the KHL. Hasek’s NHL career was spent with Chicago, Buffalo, Ottawa, and Detroit from 1990-91 to 2007-08. He appeared in 735 games with a record of 389-223-95 with a goals-against average of 2.20 and a 92.2 save percentage. He went 65-49 in 119 playoff encounters with a 2.02 goals-against average and a 92.5 save percentage. Hasek was an unorthodox goalie with his own unique style, but it served him well. The former Olympian set numerous league and franchise milestones during his career and won a pair of Stanley Cups. He also captured two Hart Memorial Trophies, two Lester B. Pearson Awards, six Vezina Trophies, and three William M. Jennings Trophies.
Although he’ll always be remembered for introducing the facemask to the NHL, Jacques Plante of Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel, Quebec was one of the league’s best-ever goalies up until the age of 44 years and 78 days. The Hall of Famer is the fifth-oldest man to tend goal in the league. He starred with Montreal, the New York Rangers, St. Louis, Toronto, and Boston between 1952-53 and 1972-73. He then joined the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA for a season before retiring. Plante appeared in 837 contests with a record of 434-246-145 with a goals-against average of 2.38 and 82 shutouts. He went a remarkable 71-36 in 112 playoff games with 14 shutouts and a 2.14 goals-against average. The eight-time All-Star won a Hart Memorial Trophy, seven Vezina Trophies, and led his teams to half a dozen Stanley Cups. Plante managed to post a league-low 1.88 goals-against average at the age of 42 with Toronto in 1970-71 and is also a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Martin Brodeur of Montreal, the NHL’s all-time shutout leader with 125, is arguably the best NHL goaltender ever not just the best to play over the age of 40. He played until he was 42 years and 241 day, making him the eighth-oldest in league annals. He won three Stanley Cups with New Jersey during his 21-season career from 1993 to 2014 and captured two gold medals at the Olympics. He holds a great number of franchise and league records and milestones. These include NHL marks for the most wins in the regular season at 691. He managed to win a minimum of 30 contests in a dozen consecutive seasons and is the only NHL netminder to post at least 40 wins eight times. The nine-time All-Star took home four Vezina Trophies, five Jennings Trophies, and the Calder Memorial Trophy. He also scored a regular-season and playoff goal. Brodeur’s regular-season goals-against average was 2.24 in 1266 outings along with a 91.2 save percentage. He went 113-91 in 205 playoff contests with a 2.02 goals against and a 91.9 save percentage. Brodeur spent his entire career with New Jersey except for his final seven games, which came with St. Louis.