In all of the four major professional sports it seems that there are always second, or third, string athletes who at one point in time served as a member of a championship team, even if the athlete made minimal appearances throughout their respective sport’s season with a club. Still, there are some backup players that are more deserving of a championship ring than others, right?
The NHL and its backup skaters winning championships, a Stanley Cup, is a unique conversation especially in terms of goaltending. NHL fans alike have witnessed teams celebrate Stanley Cup championships with the notable help of both goaltenders to achieve an organization’s ultimate goal, while other fan bases would probably have to reflect for a good ten minutes on just who was that other guy, the backup netminder, when their city hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup high above their heads.
Yes, the NHL has adapted into more of a goaltending-tandem (giving both goalies almost equal playing time) type of league, rather than teams solely relying on one netminder to carry a heavy load during both the regular season and postseason. With that being said, TheSportster looks back on NHL backup goaltenders that deserve their rings, and those who arguably don’t.
Here are the Top 10 Backup Goalies Who Deserve Their Stanley Cup Ring And 10 Who Don't.
21 Deserve: Martin Jones - 2014 Los Angeles Kings
Yes, the now stud goaltender for the San Jose Sharks once strapped on the pads for the Teal's biggest rivals in the Los Angeles Kings. And, netminder Martin Jones, not only played for the Sharks' biggest rival, but the 6-foot-4 masked man also won a Stanley Cup with Los Angeles in 2013-2014.
20 Don't: David Aebischer – 2001 Colorado Avalanche
It would be tough to justify that former Colorado Avalanche goaltender, David Aebischer, deserved his Stanley Cup ring in 2001, after the Avs defeated the New Jersey Devils in seven games that spring. Aebischer, 22 at the time, had high hopes to potentially take over the reins in Colorado’s crease once the great Patrick Roy would soon retire. And, the Avs had one of the most memorable and talented NHL teams in recent memory, so any of Aebischer’s contributions were always overshadowed and rightfully so.
19 Deserve: Chris Terreri - 1995 New Jersey Devils
After a string of losing seasons in the blue crease for the New Jersey Devils, goaltender Chris Terreri finally found himself on a championship caliber team in the mid-1990s with Jersey's Team. The former fifth round draft- pick (1983) split playing duties with the (then) young Martin Brodeur during the shortened 1994-95 lockout season, and served as an invaluable mentor in Brodeur's process to eventual legendary status.
18 Don't: Jeff Zatkoff – Pittsburgh Penguins 2016
Yes, there were three goaltenders who received a ring last spring with the Pittsburgh Penguins after the Pens defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games. As mentioned above, Marc-Andre Fleury had suffered a late season injury leaving the Pittsburgh crease in the hands of Zatkoff and Matt Murray.
17 Deserve: Andre Racicot - 1993 Montreal Canadiens
When fans think back to the Montreal Canadiens and during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the NHL's dedicated supporters typically envision Hockey Hall Of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy. And, Roy played sensational during the Habs' 1993 Stanley Cup championship run, plus took home the Conn Smythe Trophy (MVP for Stanley Cup Playoffs). But, what about the masked man who backed up the former great goaltender?
16 Don't: Manny Legace -- 2002 Detroit Red Wings
Ontario native Manny Legace somehow gets lost in the mix of notable goaltenders who not only played for the Detroit Red Wings, but also had success in Hockeytown. In 2002, the Detroit Red Wings hoisted Lord Stanley for the third time in six seasons and were led by a deep roster, which also included future Hockey Hall Of Famer goaltender Dominik Hasek.
15 Deserve: Tuukka Rask - 2011 Boston Bruins
It had appeared that Tuukka Rask may have stolen (then) Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas' starting position with the club after the 2010 season, but Thomas prevailed as the club's number one goaltender; which left Rask as a backup in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.
14 Don't: Kevin Hodson – 1998 Detroit Red Wings
When fans think of the Detroit Red Wings goaltending tandems, most would tend to immediately think of Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon, Dominik Hasek etc... All of whom have served as a backup during their tenured NHL careers, too. Yet, most cannot recall that Canadian netminder Kevin Hodson served as Osgood’s backup during the 1997-98 season…
13 Deserve: Martin Gerber - 2006 Carolina Hurricanes
Former NHL goaltender Martin Gerber won a career high 38 games during the 2005-06 regular season. However, the Switzerland native lost his starting role with the Canes early on in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rookie Cam Ward proceeded to stand victorious between the pipes in Raleigh, North Carolina when the Hurricanes won its first ever Stanley Cup in franchise history.
12 Don't: Bill Ranford – 1988 Edmonton Oilers
Bill Ranford is most known for being a backup goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers during the 1980s, when the club won four Stanley Cups during the decade. However, with a stacked Oilers team that entailed Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and netminder Grant Fuhr – Ranford goes down as a backup goaltender who probably doesn’t deserve a Cup ring, but during the 1988 campaign.
Ranford made five appearances that season, as Fuhr started in an impressive number of 73 games. So, was Ranford just along for the ride? With a roster like what the 1980s Oilers had…yes, he was.
11 Deserve: Roman Turek - 1999 Dallas Stars
Most fans more than likely recall former NHL goaltender Roman Turek playing for the St. Louis Blues during the early 2000s, but the Czech Republic native did serve as a backup prior and with the Dallas Stars from 1997-1999. Turek backed-up Hockey Hall Of Famer Ed Belfour in Dallas, and the two won the Jennings Trophy together in 1999 (team who allows the fewest amount of goals in the regular season).
10 Don't: Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings 2008
The 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup for the 11th time in franchise history, led by netminders Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood. But, did you know that Jimmy Howard also received a Stanley Cup ring? Howard, one of the Wings’ current goaltenders, and former United States Olympian, appeared in just two regular season games but he was officially on the roster for a majority of the season for Hockeytown’s Stanley Cup Playoff run.
9 Deserve: Scott Darling - 2015 Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks backup goaltender Scott Darling's path towards becoming an NHL skater is remarkable in itself, but the former University of Maine netminder was a key asset to the club's most recent Stanley Cup Championship in 2015. While the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford has been the starter for Chicago's last two Stanley Cups, Darling had to relive Crawford during the Hawks' Cup run in 2015. And, if it weren't for Darling, perhaps the Blackhawks wouldn't have advanced to the Finals that season.
8 Don't: Cristobal Huet – 2010 Chicago Blackhawks
Yes, the present starting netminder and two-time Stanley Cup champion of the Chicago Blackhawks, Corey Crawford, made a few appearances during the 2009-10 season for the Hawks; but most NHL fans forget that Crawford wasn’t the backup goaltender for Chicago, at the time.
7 Deserve: Ilya Bryzgalov - 2007 Anaheim Ducks
In 2006-07, the Anaheim Ducks made their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history and the Ducks were a powerhouse team only losing a total of five games along the way to glory. The Ducks hoisted their first Stanley Cup that spring with the help of two notable NHL goaltenders,.
6 Don't: Corey Schwab – 2003 New Jersey Devils
One could guess that it was probably “never easy” to backup hockey and New Jersey Devils great, Martin Brodeur. Corey Schwab experienced what it meant to be Brodeur’s backup during the Canadian Olympic Gold Medal winner’s prime of his career during the 2002-03 season. Schwab appeared in just 11 games that year, while posting a 5-3-1 record.
5 Deserve: Stephane Fiset - 1996 Colorado Avalanche
It's never easy for a professional athlete to lose a starting position at their respective sport, especially after an organization acquires another player to fill in one's skates. During the 1995-96 NHL season, Stephane Fiset manned the Colorado Avalanche's net and it appeared Fiset would be the guy for the long haul with the inaugural Avs club. However, (eventual) Hockey Hall Of Famer, Patrick Roy, had demanded a trade from the Montreal Canadiens in that season and he was dealt to Colorado.
4 Don't: Glenn Healy - 1994 New York Rangers
In 1994, the New York Rangers ended a 54 year draught after the Broadway Blueshirts hoisted the Stanley Cup that spring against the Vancouver Canucks and in a dramatic seven game series. That Rangers team entailed depth in just about every position on the ice, but perhaps New York’s backup netminder was one weak point.
3 Marc-Andre Fleury - 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins
As mentioned above it's never easy for an NHL starting netminder to lose his role with not only one's respective club, but a championship caliber team too. And, imagine if that player is already a Stanley Cup winner and a potential future Hockey Hall Of Famer...
That was the case last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury. The former first-overall draft-pick (2003) of Pittsburgh was having an MVP-like season, but Fleury suffered a late season injury and was placed on the Injured-Reserved list. The Penguins eventually turned to (at the time) third string netminder Matt Murray once the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs arrived. Most can recall, that Murray made history in the playoffs last year and helped lead the Penguins to the club's fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history, while the club's former longtime starter watched from the bench.
1 Don't: Jonathan Bernier – 2012 Los Angeles Kings
The 2011-12 NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs could be labeled as the Year of Jonathan Quick, as the Los Angeles Kings starting netminder was unbeatable during the Kings 2012 Cup run. Not only did Quick lose just four games out of 20 starts, but he took home the Conn Smythe Trophy that spring, too. It seemed that backup goalie Jonathan Bernier was just along for the ride…
Bernier only played in 16 contests that season for Los Angeles, and managed a mere five victories. There was hope that Bernier could transform into a legitimate starting netminder in the NHL soon after he received his Stanley Cup ring in 2012, but since that time – it hasn’t panned out that way. Bernier now serves as backup with the Anaheim Ducks.
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