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goaltender Elwin Ira Rollins

Nickname: Al, Thin Man
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 175 lbs
Position: Goaltender
Catch: Left
Date of Birth: October 09, 1926
Place of Birth: Vanguard , Saskatchewan, Canada
Date of Death: July 27, 1996 (Age: 69)

Stanley Cup Champion (1951)
Allan Cup Champion (1948, 1962)
PCJHL Most Valuable Player (1945)
PCJHL First All-Star Team (1945)
WCSHL First All-Star Team (1948)
WHL Second All-Star Team (1958, 1959)
United Press NHL Second All-Star Team (1951)
Vezina Trophy (1951)
Hart Memorial Trophy (1954)
Played in NHL All-Star Game (1954)


Top-3 Wins (2nd, 3rd, 3rd)
Top-3 Goal Against Average (1st, 2nd)
Top-3 Shutouts (3rd)


Top-3 Playoff Wins (3rd, 3rd)

Awards Nomination:

Calder Memorial Trophy:
1950-51: 2nd position (Terry Sawchuk) (-49.0%)

Hart Memorial Trophy:
1950-51: 8th position (Milt Schmidt) (0-0-1)
1952-53: 2nd position (Gordie Howe) (-56.9%)
1953-54: 1st position (+7.5%)

Originally Posted by Who's Who In Hockey
A case could be made for Al Rollins as the most underrated superb goalie in NHL history.


The difference was his spirited play at center coupled with the extraordinary goaltending of angular Al Rollins, who emerged with the Hart (MVP) trophy.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends
Over time Rollins assumed the starting job from the legendary Broda. He backstopped a strong defensive club throughout the early 1950s. He won the Vezina trophy in 1951. He was the goalie when Toronto won the cup thanks to Bill Barilko's legendary goal.

However Rolly was dealt to the weak Chicago Blackhawks team in 1952. The team was desperate for players and the other NHL teams sent them some in an "unofficial" aid plan to save the Hawks. In fact in Rollins first year in Chicago, they only had about 20 players in training camp and Rollins was the only goaltender. The poor trainer had to suit up as a goalie in scrimmages.

Despite the terrible team, Rollins was incredible. And the hockey public noticed. In his first year he played 70 games and averaged 38 shots against! He had an incredibly respectable 27-28-15 record with 6 shutouts and a 2.50 GAA. He finished a close second to Gordie Howe in the Hart Trophy balloting.

The following season, 1953-54, the Hawks seemingly got worst. And while Rollins numbers took a beating he only got better. Forget about the 12-47-7 record. He played in the all star game and had 5 shutouts. Most importantly, he won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP! That tells you just how good Rollins was - a 12 win season in 66 games earned him the most prestigious individual prize in hockey, over names like Howe and Richard!

Many modern fans remember how valiantly Ron Tugnutt battled the Boston Bruins when he played for the sad sack Quebec Nordiques in the early 1990s. The Bruins had 70 shots on goal, and superstar Ray Bourque had an unofficial record of 19 shots on goal by himself. Tugnut stood on his head that night and almost singlehandedly earned the tie for his team that night, and became an instant fan favorite. Well that's how Al Rollins was for almost every game that he played for the Hawks. He is on of the most underrated goalies in hockey history.
Originally Posted by Hockey Glory Days: the 1950s and '60s
Al Rollins

Sometimes worst can be first.

Al Rollins spent six seasons in the minor leagues before getting his first chance in the NHL when owner Conn Smythe decided Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Turk Broda was too fat. Broda was ordered out of the lineup during November 1949 and was replaced by Gil Mayer. For added insurance, Rollins was purchased from the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League. He got into two games for Toronto before the season was over.

Rollins was 6'2'' and played a graceful, standup style. In 1950-51 he and Broda shared the Leafs net in a foreshadowing of the two-goalie system that was then still more than 10 years away. The pair gave the Leafs the best defensive record in the NHL by allowing one fewer goal then Terry Sawchuk did in all 70 games for the Detroit Red Wings, and Rollins earned the Vezina Trophy. In the playoffs, Rollins and Broda helped the Leafs to win the Stanley Cup.

In 1951-52, Rollins had the Toronto job for himself. He had another solid season, but was then traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for Harry Lumley. Rollins helped Chicago reach the playoffs in 1953, but the teams fell back into last place with only 12 victories in 1953-54. His exceptional play on the league's worst team was rewarded with the Hart Trophy.

The stress of playing behind a weak defense kept Rollins out of action for parts of the next two seasons, and he returned to the minors after the 1956-57 campaign. Rollins made a final NHL appearance with the New York Rangers in 1959-60.
Originally Posted by
Vanguard, Saskatchewan native Al Rollins enjoyed a great NHL career. He won a Stanley Cup with the Toronto Maple Leafs and won the 1954 Hart Trophy as the League’s most valuable player, even though he played for the Chicago Blackhawks, the doormats of the League.

Rollins’ gamble paid off. He led the Flyers to the Allan Cup title, and was simply stellar in the final series against the Ottawa Senators. The Senators scored just 13 times in the six-game series, and were shut out in Game 4. Rollins played a total of 24 post-season games for the Flyers that season, winning 20 and posting an outstanding 2.46 goals against average.

Rollins could never convince Leafs’ management that he should be the team’s full-time stopper. In 1952, he was shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for proven veteran Harry ''Apple Cheeks'' Lumley. For the better part of the decade, Rollins played valiantly for a team that regularly finished dead last in the NHL. It was with the brutal Hawks’ teams that greatly contributed to his less than stellar career record of 141-205-83. But the pundits could see that, despite the losses, Rollins was one of the League’s best net minders. In 1953-54, Rollins was named an All-Star and was awarded the Hart Trophy even though he won just 12 games while losing 47 that season. The hockey writers who voted for the award knew that Rollins faced more shots and scoring chances than any other goalie in the League, and the fact that he was able to keep scores respectable most nights was a testament to his fortitude.

Rollins passed away July 27, 1996. If only he had a better team in front of him, he may have been remembered along with the likes of Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante and Hall as the greatest of his era.
Originally Posted by The Spokesman-ReviewRollins Believes Cesare Talented (11/27/1960)
An evening with Al Rollins. Not as spectacular as an evening with Fred Astaire? But far more fruitful in a hockey sense.
The hulking former National league goal tender, considered by some the best ever to play in the NHL, is enjoying his first year of retirement.
Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Rollins was traded with a package of players to the Chicago Blackhawks for goaltender Harry Lumley in 1952. In the Windy City, Rollins found the club's affairs to be disorganized. He noted that in one game, he faced more breakaways than he'd seen during all three of his years in Toronto. But his heroic efforts to prop up the sagging Hawks didn't go unnoticed. He earned second spot behind Gordie Howe for the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP in 1953. Then, the next year, he took the Hart for himself.

A Study on Al Rollins year-to-year play with books, hockey cards and newspapers:

Originally Posted by The battle of Alberta: a century of hockey's greatest rivalry
(In the 1947-48 season) Rollins posted a 24-20-2 regular season mark with a 3.20 goals-against average. Those weren't head numbers, but Rollins would more than prove his worth in the playoffs, where he would put on a playoff run comparable to that of other future Edmonton goaltending legends Glenn Hall and Grant Fuhr.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald; Al Rollins Gunning For Leaf Goal Job (09/22/1950)
Al Rollins, thrown overboard by the New York Rangers seven season ago, seems to be gunning for Turk Broda's job in the Toronto Maple Leafs' net.
This season, says Leaf coach Joe Primeau, ''he has come up with flashes of mighty good goaltending. He has been particularly good on close-in plays.''
Originally Posted by The Leader-Post; Happy Dilemma! (11/22/1950)
Toronto Maple Leafs probably have a bigger goaltender problem than any other National Hockey League club. Theirs is a happy dilemma, however - which one of the two top goalies to use?
''We'll use Rollins against the teams to which we lost games with Broda in the net.'' Smythe said last night ''We want to see how good he actually is. We have nothing to lose.''
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette; Leafs' Conn Smythe Has Problem; Should He Keep Thin or Fat Man? (11/29/1950)
The burning question is whether to keep six-foot-two Al Rollins in the team's goal or send Pudgy Turk Broda back into action after four games on the sidelines.
''It's a tough one.'' Smythe said today ''I've got to decide whether to keep the thin man in there and let him get thinner or whether to go back to the thinned-down fat man''
But Rollins, improving every time out, has forced fresh consideration on that matter. He is the only unbeaten goalie in the N.H.L. with six wins and a tie in seven starts.
The Leafs bought Rollins, a native of Vanguard, Sask. This year, he was bought up to the big team to be worked gradually into the goaltending job on the theory that the Turk can't go on forever.
Rollins improved amazingly in his busy four-games-in-five-days stretch.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press; Rollins Stars As Leafs Win (12/15/1950)
Al Rollins, the Toronto Maple Leafs' 24-year-old rookie goaltender, is either a good-luck charm, or else he's just plain good.
Rollins, former Pittsburgh Hornet, who shares the Leafs's goalie duties with the veteran Turk Broda, tended his 10th victory in 11 games last night as Toronto walloped the injury-riddled Chicago Black Hawks, 7-1.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; XXX(12/08/1950)
AL ROLLINS, former Edmonton Flyer and now one of Toronto Maple Leafs stellar goalkeepers.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald; Two Rookies In Close Fight For N.H.L.'s Vezina Trophy (02/20/1951)
A couple of fellows who learned to play hockey in Western Canada will face each other tonight in a scene from what is shaping up as one of the neatest little dramas of the National Hockey League season.
The principals are Al Rollins, part-time goaltender for the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs, and Terry Sawchuk, who tends goal for the league-leading Detroit Red Wings.
However, while Sawchuk is the lone Detroit goalie, Rollins has been sharing duties with Turk Broda who, incidentally, is another Westerner.
But there's a problem. Rollins, who had played 28 games to Broda's 27, is doing so well that the Leaf hierarchy hesitates to take him out.
''How can you take him out when he's winning?'' asked Conny Smythe, Leaf general manager. ''The team comes first with me every time. Sure, I would like to have Turk and Al share the Vezina trophy, but Rollins has been going so well I don't see how we could replace him, at least until he's beaten.

Rollins has been beaten only twice in the last 18 games and his goals-against average of 1.89 is best in the league.
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen; Toronto's Al Rollins In Line For Vezina And Rookie Cups (02/28/1951)
Al Rollins, six-foot-two goal-tending thin man, started the National Hockey League season as understudy to aging Turk Broda with Toronto Maple Leafs. Now he's threatening to walk off with the goal-tending Vezina prize and the league's rookie award as well.
There isn't a hotter goaltender in the league than the lanky rookie from Vanguard, Sask.

In 31 games-including one from which he had to withdraw after being hit over the eye with the puck-he has won 19 and lost four. He's allowed 57 goals for an average of 1.83 a game.
Originally Posted by The Telegraph-Herald; Toronto Rookie Gets Puck Prize(03/25/1951)
The Vezina trophy, that award worth $1,000 to the National Hockey League goal tender ''who has played the most game for the team with the fewest goals scored against it,'' Monday was the property of Toronto's rookie Al Rollins.
The Brick wall from Vanguard, Sask., clinched the award Sunday night by blanking the Boston Bruins, 1 to 0, in the Leafs' last game of the regular season.
An unnoficial breakdown showed that Rollins played in 39 games of the Maple Leafes' 70 contests and was scored on 69 times while Broda was tapped for the same number in 31 games.
However, Rollins was red-hot in the nets and came up with many miraculous saves that earned him an astonishing mark of only 1.93 goals against for the season.
Originally Posted by The Lewiston Daily Sun; Vic Lynn May Be Lost To Bruins; Al Rollins Through For Season (03/30/1951)
The Toronto Maple Leafs discovered today that their brilliant rookie goalie, Al Rollins, won't be able to play again this season.
He suffered a strained kneee ligament last night when the Boston Bruins defeated the Leafs 2-0, to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven Stanley Cup semifinal game.
Originally Posted by Spokane Daily Chronicle; Toronto Net Minder Returns to Action (04/07/1951)
The Toronto Maple Leafs, fired by news that goalie Al Rollins will be ready to play again next week, were out to take a 3-to-1 lead over the Boston Bruins tonight in their best-of-seven semifinal Stanley Cup playoffs.
Rollins was injured in the first game of the series 10 days ago in a collision with Boston's Pete Horeck and doctors at first said the Vezina trophy winning rookie would be shelved until next season.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press; Al Rollins Stars as Toronto Beats Montreal in Overtime (04/18/1951)
It was one of those typical Montreal-Toronto tussies. Lots of high-sticking and brutal slashing. The Leafs' co-heroes were Kennedy and young Goalie Al Rollins, who was playing in his first cup finals.
Fully recovered from a knee injury he sustained in the semi final series against Boston, the former Pittsburgh Hornet was planted in the Toronto nets, replacing Veteran Turk Broda. Although the Canadiens kept the pressure on him throughout, the lanky youngster refused to budge.
Rollins was especially brilliant in the overtime session.
Montreal fans were whooping it up for Maurice Richar, who on three different occasions during the playoffs had produced winning goals in overtime.
But Maurice, alas, wasn't there. Rollins was, though, making stop after stop on the onrushing Canadiens. Finally, the Leafs got a break and Kennedy exploded his game-winning goal.
Originally Posted by The Windsor Daily Star(04/01/1952)
Even the most stout-hearted Leafs supporters, including those who can remember back to the spring of '42 when Toronto dropped the first three games to the Detroit Red Wings and then roared back to win four in a row and the Stanley Cup, appear willing to concede that the Mapleos haven't got it this year.
As our sun-tanned pal of the Toronto Star, Milt Dunnell, points out, moves which the Leaf strategists used in '42 to turn back the surging tide of Redshirts have already been tried and failed. Instead of waiting until the third game had been played, Smythe sensed what was happening after the opener in Detroit and played his hand. He benched Cal Gardner in favor of rookie, Jim Morrison, and dragged Turk Broda out of virtual retirement to replace Al Rollins. Those were the psychological master moves. When they didn't work he was left high and dry.
You can be pretty sure that one of the changes will bring Rollins back into the nets in places of Broda.
It would certainly simplify the job of the Leaf front office if it could write off the big difference between the Wings and the Toronto club, as goaltending.
Admittedly, Smythe even if he won't admit has a goaltending problem to worry about.
The Leafs master-mnd showed his lack of faith in longlegged Mr.Rollins when he benched him right after the first game of the series in favor of a 37-year-old veteran who hadn't played a full game in the Toronto nets all winter. What kind of a jolt his removal was to Rollins' morale remains to be seen. It could ruin him as a top-flight performer. On the other hand it could have the reverse effect.
Meanwhile, Smythe's chess-player moves with his goalies has revived the rumor that Harry Lumley will be the Toronto goalie next season. Smythe denies it and it is a cinch the Leafs would have to give plenty-in players, not cash- to pry Lum away from the Black Hawks. However, where there's smoke there is usually fire and it will be interesting to see what develops.
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen; Chicago Hawks Boost Lead With Victory Over Bruins (10/03/1952)
The Hawks showed their home audience a close-checking defensive game with Al Rollins, a former Leaf, turning in a fine goal-tending display, turning 28 saves.
Originally Posted by The Leader-Post; Rollins hurt in ball game(06/29/1951)
Baseball seems to be a jinx game for Al Rollins, Toronto Maple Leafs' hockey goalkeeper.
He suffered a broken jaw and lost four teeth Wednesday night while playing baseball. He is in good condition in hospital.
Rollins was injured when he collided with a teammate in the outfield while playing for New Westminster Royals against Langley Athletics.
Originally Posted by The Pittsburgh Press; Rollins Keeps Hawks Unbeaten (10/13/1952)
What looked like a typographical error atop of the National Hockey League standing today actually was the red-hot Chicago Black Hawks, who whirled to their third straight victory last night.
Turning aside 30 shots, Goalie Al Rollins, acquired this year from Toronto, paced the Hawks to a 2-0 triumph over the New York Rangers.
Originally Posted by Reading Eagle; Players Deal Paying Off For Leafs, Black Hawks (11/06/1952)
That offseason trade between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Black Hawks apparently benefitted both teams.
The Black Hawks, given a big lift by former Toronto goalie Al Rollins, got off to a fast start in the National Hockey League this season.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; Santa Seldom Forget Rangers(12/26/1952)
Until then Al Rollins had been a standout, almost single-handedly turning back the rampaging Detroiters who carried a 39-22 shooting edge and had the pressure on constantly for the last 30 minutes.

Originally Posted by The Leader-Post; Kelly best player, Patrick maintains - Lynn likes Rollins too (12/17/1953)
Patrick made another surprising observation by maning Al Rollins of the last-place Chicago Black Hawks as the league's best goalie.
''Rollins dosn't get nearly the protection that the others get. But he's looked great against us and with a better defence he'd be right up there with Harry Lumley (Toronto) and Terry Sawchuk (Detroit).''

Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald; Al Rollins Still Rated Main Cog (10/13/1954)
Angular Al Rollins of Chicago Black Hawks probably won't be seeing as many black spots in front of his National Hockey League net this winter.
Al's lot as goaltender for the Hawks may be improving. If he had time to count the pucks opposing players shot at him last season the figure would of been enormous. The fact that 213 got past him would have demanded a bravery citation in any other business.
In three games so far this season Rollins hasn't had too much to do. He allowed nine goals in two defeats and a tie but can't be blamed for them because the Chicago defence still isn't up to scratch.
Without the 29-year-old native of Vanguard, Sask., the Hawks would be rushed right out of the rink. Big Al proved long ago that the Hawks made a good trade when they grabbed him from the Toronto Maple Leafs just before the 1952-53 season started.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald; Irvin Signs As Black Hawks Pilot(03/05/1955)
Irvin will replace Frankie Eddolls, a top NHL defenceman for many years with Canadiens and New York Rangers who was made coach of the Black Hawks last year. He had little to work with outside of goalie Al Rollins and a few young forwards and the club finished in last place, but showed signs of improvement late in the season.

Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; Plante Owns Top Mark; Worsley Rates Busiest (11/16/1955)
Plante 44742126.9421.53
Originally Posted by Gettysburg Times; Buffalo Gets First Shutout With Rollins (01/23/1956)
Goalie Al Rollins, who put up quite a fuss before agreeing to being shipped back to the minors with Buffalo, probably could get the Cleveland Barons to sign a petition requesting his return to the majors in nothing flat.
The ex-Chicago Black Hawks net tender in the National Hockey League handed the Barons their first shutout in three years of regular season American Hockey League play last night as the Bisons won 3-0.
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen; Al Rollins Amazes With His Courageous Display (02/03/1956)
It's spelled G-U-T-S. It's the particular brad of courage Al Rollins had Thursday night.
Rollins refused to leave a National Hockey League game although he was twice struck on the head with a puck, was knocked unconscious, suffered a mild concussion and needed 11 stitches to close bloody wounds.
When he wasn't getting first aid, the 29-year-old goaltender was performing for Chicago Black Hawks. He was so good that Hawks were able to salvage a 2-2 tie against Boston Bruins.
Rollins was amazing at Boston. He ignored a doctor's advice to retire for the night and stuck to his post, showing no ill effects from being conked.
Edward Browne, Boston club physician, took Rollins into the dressing room for repairs. Dr.Browne said Rollins should quit for the night but neither Al not Chicago coach Dick Irvin would hear of such a thing.
Blood oozed from the nose cut as Rollins made stop after stop on Boston snipers. All told, he blocked 36 stops.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald; Black Hawks' Al Rollins Ups Goaltending Mark (11/21/1956)
Al Rollins, lanky netminder of Chicago Black Hawks, performed some heroic acrobatic work in the National Hockey League last week to add a point to his average in efficiency ratings for goaltenders.
Plante, M28627214.951
Sawchuk, B51447638.926
Hall, D47143635.925
Worsley, NY47543342.912
Rollins, C55250151.908
Chadwick, T43238745.896
McNeil, MN22419727.879
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald; Room For One But One Goalie On Chicago Hockey Club (09/21/1956)
Two veterans, Harry Lumley and Al Rollins, are looking for the job.
''We will go with the one who shows the best form in training camp.'' Ivan said. ''The other will be playing elsewhere.''
Both looked good in practice sessions Thursday.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; Rollins tough to Beat - Hawks Show Good Form By Tying Canyens, 3-3 (01/04/1957)
Goalie Al Rollins was outstanding for Hawks, making seemingly-impossible saves in the second period when the Montreal drive was at its height and again in the third when Canadiens went all out in an effort to pull out a win. Rollins had 39 shots tossed at him, compared with 20 Montreal goalie Jacques Plante had to handle.
Originally Posted by The Miami News; Wings Goalie Finds Bench Hard To Take (02/01/1957)
Goalies Don Simmons of Boston and Al Rollins of Chicago also distinguish themselves as the Bruins toppled the Black Hawks 2-0.
The rookie, however, had only 17 saves to a sensational 42 for Rollins.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; Calgary Stampede Land Rollins, Fills Big Gap (09/27/1957)
The Calgary Stampeders hockey camp too on a look of confidence and gaiety Thursday.
The Stamps landed the ''big one'' Thursday morning when Al Rollins picked up his equipment at the Cowboy dressing quarters. It was a move that had been anticipated for weeks but did not become reality till late Wednesday night when the veteran netminder arrived in the city.
Rollins will be counted on to fill a big gap in the Stampeders brigade for the western hockey league season. He is the man coach Frank Currie is counting on heavily to lead the club out of the doldrums.
Past records indicate Rollins may do just that. The six-foot, two-inch netminder who will celebrate his 31st birthday next Oct. 9, is a veteran of seven National Hockey League seasons. The last five have been spent with Chicago Black Hawks after starting out his major league career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; Stampeders Wins at Winnipeg (01/29/1958)
Calgary Stampeders made two first period goals stand up Tuesday night for a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg Warriors.
Both goaltenders turned n smart performances. Al Rollins turned aside 26 shots for Calgary.
Originally Posted by The Calgary Herald; Run-Around For Rollins As Kyle gets Edward (09/10/1958)
ROLLINS had a tremendous season with the Cowboys last year and was named the most valuable player on the Stamps, was named to the second all-star team and was the first recipient of the Scott-Mamini trophy as Calgary's Athlete ofthe Year.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; Stampeders Counting On Impressive Youths (10/08/1958)
Rollins was a mainstay last year when the Stamps made the league finals and lost in four straight games to Vancouver Canucks.
Originally Posted by The Leader-Post; Al Rollins will join Warriors (01/14/1959)
In Calgary, William Dickle, Rollin's Lawyer, said the goalie will discontinue a law suit filed against the Black Hawks and the Stampeders.
Rollins filed a $25,000 in damages on the grounds the two clubs were preventing him from making a living as a hockey player. He said they refused to offer him a contract and prevented him from negociating with other clubs.
Originally Posted by Edmonton Journal; Too Much Rollins, say Tony Leswick (03/30/1959)
Peppery Tony Leswick, Edmonton Flyer's coach, summed up his club's downfall in three words, ''Too Much Rollins''.
Managers, coaches and players of both teams gave full credit Saturday night to Winnipeg Warriors' nimble netminder Al Rollins for his team's three-game sweep of the Western Hockey League's best-of-five prairie division semi-final.
Only eight nights before, Warriors were in the division cellar, two points behind Saskatoon Quakers with two games to play. They beat Saskatoon twice to gain the playoffs and followed up with the sweep over Edmonton.
In those five games Rollins, who was purchased late in the season from Calgary Stampeders, played spectacularly, allowing only six goals. In the playoff series he blocked 103 shots compared with 87 stopped by Edmonton's Ed Johnston.
Flyer manager Bud Poile said: ''Every game it's been the same. We've outplayed them, but couldn't beat Rollins.''
''Winnipeg's going to have to improve to beat Calgary.'' he said. ''Still, with him in there, I don't know. He would have stopped many teams Saturday night and Calgary's going to find it hard to beat.''
Winniped coach Alf Pike said: Our boys were up for the game. They skated well and Rollins came through, especially in the first period. Edmonton played well and so did Johnston. The difference was goaltending in the first period.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix; Warrior Blast Canucks 6-0 (03/14/1959)
Winnipeg Warriors, paced by the solid goaltending of Al Rollins and the three-goal performance of Steve Witiuk shut out Vancouver Canucks 6-0 in a Western Hockey League game Friday night.
Originally Posted by The Windsor Star; Winnipeg Wins Behind Rollins (11/20/1959)
Winnipeg's victory was fashioned by the spectacular netminding of Al Rollins.
Originally Posted by The Leader-Post; Warrior move out of cellar (12/12/1959)
Winnipeg Warriors vacated the Western Hockey League cellar Friday night with stellar goal-tending by Al Rollins paving the way to a 5-3 comeback win over Edmonton Flyers.
More than 3,200 fans watched Rollins kick out 32 shots.
Originally Posted by The Spokesman-Review; 'Peggers Clip Calgary ASix; Rollins Stars (12/22/1959)
Al Rollins was the big man for the Warriors as he stopped 29 shots. He had little chance on the three goals that did get past him.
Originally Posted by The Leader-Post (01/21/1960)
Goalkeeper Al Rollins provided the defensive spark in the late stages as Calgary swarmed in.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette; Al Rollins' Revenge (02/24/1960)
Al Rollins, who made a spectacular return to the NHL last weekend, was the most satisfied man in Madison Square Garden after the Rangers' 7-2 victory over the Boston Bruins last Sunday. He is still bitter against the Hawks - a bitterness that resulted in a suit against the Chicago club - over what he considers their inconsiderable handling of him after they'd obtained Glenn Hall from Detroit to replace him at the start of the 1957-58 season.
''Why, just last week they tried to block the deal that brought me to the Rangers,'' he told New York Rangers writers.
What is Rollins' future with the Rangers?
[...] The word from New York is that there's a possibility the Rangers may trade Gump Worsley. There had been some whispers of a possible deal involving the Gump before he was injured a week ago and these rumors are now being revived.
Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen; Al Rollins Gives Rangers New Life (02/26/1960)
The tall man rode in form the West last Saturday night and casually stopped 46 shots by the fastest guns in the East.
The dark hero was Elwin Ira (Al) Rollins. It was his return to the National Hockey League.
It's unlikely that Rollins can do much to get the New York into the playoffs. The Rangers are 16 points away from fourth place, the last playoff position, with 11 games remaining. But it looks as if he'll make the club a tougher opponent after a season as the league patsy.
Originally Posted by The Leader-Post; Drumheller advances with win over Spurs (04/04/1966)
Veteran Al Rollins turned aside 41 shots in a solid netminding display for Drumheller.
Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (05/16/1966)
Miners, who outshot the defending champions 29-14 in the first two periods, had to rely on sterling goaltending by former National Hockey League standout Al Rollins as Beavers piled on power-play pressure in the final period.


- ''Toronto at the time had Turk Broda. They had Baz Bastien who was probably the best goaltender in the minors. Howie Harvey (brother of Hab's Doug) out of St. Mike's was probably the best amateur goalkeeper of the day. They were set forever. However, the first day of training camp they lose Baz Bastien (to an eye injury). Howie Harvey was probably the first player who retired because of a skin disease - guck they called it. They brought me in and I spent all year just practising and travelling and watching the visiting goalkeepers. I always sat behind the visitors' net and watched the other goalies and, with coach Hap Day, I had to go over every goal with him, visitor and home team, what the goalie did wrong. That first year I played two games. It was a learning process. I appreciated it. If you were to do it today to a rookie, he'd be insulted.'' - Al Rollins on his first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs

- ''I was a better goal keeper at 40 years than I was when I won the Vezina Trophy.'' - Al Rollins

- ''A goalie doesn't really mature until he's 30. Goalkeeping doesn't depend on speed so much as playing the angles, and that only comes with experience.'' - Al Rollins

Fun and Interesting Facts:
- Father of Jerry Rollins, who played several seasons in the WHA
- Al suffered from rheumatic fever, and was advised by doctors that his condition could endanger his heart. He continued to play until the age of thirty-six
- Rollins went to his first NHL training camp at the age of 16, with the New York Rangers
- Rollins got a shutout win in his first complete game with the Maple Leafs
- On December 2nd, 1950, in a game between the Maple Leafs and the Blackhawks, Al Rollins, Turk Broda and Harry Lumley received the three star of the game: Rollins sustained a cut above his eye in the middle of the game
- Rollins got scored on against Maurice Richard's 325th and 544th regular season goal
- Rollins got scored on against Gordie Howe's 200th and 300th NHL goals

Signing, Trades & Injuries:

- On September 13, 1949, he was traded to the Cleveland Barons of the AHL by the Kansas City Pla-Mors of the USHL for Doug Baldwin and Ralph Wycherley (AHL)
- On November 29, 1949, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs by the Cleveland Barons of the AHL for Bobby Dawes, Phil Samis, Eric Pogue, the rights to Bob Shropshire (NHL)
- On September 11, 1952, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks by the Toronto Maple Leafs with Gus Mortson, Cal Gardner and Ray Hannigan for Harry Lumley, September 11, 1952 (NHL)
- Rollins was signed around the 6400$ figure before the 1958 season
- On February 20, 1960, he was loaned to the New York Rangers by the Chicago Blackhawks for the loan of Ray Mikulan, future considerations and cash (NH


AHL: American Hockey League
NHL: National Hockey League
PCJHL: Pacific Coast Junior Hockey League
USHL: United States Hockey League
WCSHL: Western Canada Senior Hockey League
WHA: World Hockey Association
WHL: Western Hockey League

Internet Sites:


1950-51: Rollins just had a tremendous rookie season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. From everything I read, Rollins was without a doubt performing better than the ageing Turk Broda, while only Terry Sawchuk was the only goaltender performing at his height during that season. The main reason why he didn't receive an All-Star accolade is the fact that Rollins was bring into the Toronto Maple Leafs net in the middle of the season and all and all, only played 40 games with the club. I think Rollins was the best goaltender in the league during the 1950-51 season, but Sawchuk, playing all 70 games of his club at a very high level, was a worthy selection for hte first All-Star Team. Rayner received the second All-Star position due to playing 66 games for his club, but my opinion is that Rollins and Sawchuk were head and shoulder above any goaltender in the league that season. In the playoffs, Rollins was the #1 goaltender of his club. Although he got injured for part of the playoffs, he was still the man of confidence over Turk Broda, the legendary ''money'' goaltender.

1951-52: Although he didn't performed at the same level than his rookie season, Rollins still had a good season behind the strong defensives team of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some report says that Rollins had another strong season with the Leafs, but one thing that is certain is that Conn Smythe didn't had confidence into the lanky Al Rollins. At the end of that season, where the Maple Leafs lost in the semi-final with an overall underwhelming performance, Smythe decided to go with the more experience goaltender and traded for Harry Lumley, sending Rollins to the Chicago Blackhawks.

1952-53: My opinion is that even if he lost the Hart Memorial Trophy to Gordie Howe that season, this is the most incredible season of Al Rollins' career. All reports I've read on him talk about how night in and night out he was the only player that kept the Chicago Blackhawks from being the joke of the league. He was also astonishing during the playoffs against the defending champion Montreal Canadiens during the playoffs, almost upsetting them in a 7 game series. That season illustrate how the All-Star selections were given to the goaltender with the best statistical results, because there's no denying that Rollins was the best goaltender in the National Hockey League during the 1952-53 season. Another point: Joe Pelletier write in his blog that Rollins received 38 shots against during the 1952-53 season. If those numbers are exact, and considering he played all of Chicago's game and let in 175 goals, this would amount to a save percentage of .934, which is absolutely stunning considering he was playing in front of a well known terrible defence. I could go as far as to say that this is one of the greatest season by a goaltender in the 1950's. And yes, this is counting Plante, Sawchuk, Hall and others.

1953-54: This is the year that Al Rollins put his hand of the Hart Memorial Trophy, but this is not Rollins' best season in the National Hockey League. However, don't make a mockery of Rollins capturing the award, as he was still a sensational goaltender for the Blackhawks, despite the disastrous statistics. The Blackhawks of the early-to-mid 1950's were one of the worst defensive team that ever competed in the National Hockey League, and Rollins were close to being the sole man to keep them for being run out of the league. Several reports still rave about Rollins' incredible performances with the Hawks that season, although he only registered a mere 12 victories in 66 contest. The peak seasons of Al Rollins definitely lies between 1950 and 1954.

1954-55: I still read reports of Rollins brilliant play during the 1954-55 season, but the fact remain that Rollins didn't have the greatest of season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Only playing 44 games, Rollins' backup, Hank Bassen, did have far better statistics than him in 21 games. The unnoficial save percentage results of the 1954-55 season goes as follow (minimum 10 games played):

Harry Lumley, T691.93.929
Terry Sawchuk, D681.94.926
Jacques Plante, M522.10.926
Charlie Hodge, M142.27.917
Gump Worsley, NY653.00.916
Hank Bassen, C213.00.914
John Henderson, B452.47.903
Jim Henry, B273.06.899
Al Rollins, C443.39.893

Rollins probably face the better competetion and the Blackhawks were still the worst team in the league, but my opinion his that the reports were still remembering the incredible first two season Rollins gave to the Blackhawks. Rollins definitely was not as good as his previous two season.

1955-56: This is a puzzling season for me. Although Rollins' stats are extremely better that season, the management at that point seemed to have lost confidence for the man they called the ''thin man''. Before anything, here's the unofficial save percentage statistics of that season (minimum 10 games played):

Jacques Plante, M641.86.929
Glenn Hall, D702.10.922
Gump Worsley, NY702.84.922
Terry Sawchuk, B682.60.913
Al Rollins, C582.97.913
Harry Lumley, T592.70.904
Hank Bassen, C123.42.881

Compared to his unspectacular backup Hank Bassen, Rollins blew him out of the water. Considering the fact that still play for the dreadful Chicago Blackhawks, he compares extremely well to everyone not named Jacques Plante, who's playing behind a dynasty team. At that point in time, the relationship between the Blackhawks management and Rollins were difficult, and perhaps the Blackhawks were giving every opportunity to Bassen to win the job over Rollins.

1956-57: This would be the last full season in the National Hockey League for Al Rollins. Winning the starter job with the Hawks over Harry Lumley, he would play all 70 games for his club.

Glenn Hall, D702.23.927
Terry Sawchuk, B342.38.921
Jacques Plante, M612.00.920
Don Simmons262.42.915
Gump Worsley, NY683.24.907
Ed Chadwick, T702.66.905
Al Rollins, C703.17.901
Norm Defelice, B103.00.889

Again, considering the dreadful team in front of him, Rollins' statistic is nothing to be ashamed of. The Blackhawks would start to bulk of their team in the following seasons, starting in goal with the legendary Glenn Hall, but that move would push Rollins out of Chicago. Unfortunately, we will never know if Rollins could of took a spot with another club in the following two seasons, as the Chicago Blackhawks made sure that Rollins would be buried in the minor for the rest of his career. Even in his small stint with the New York Rangers in 1960, the Hawks tried to block the transaction, as they didn't wanted to see Rollins play in the NHL ever again. It's still puzzling me how the Hawks treated Al Rollins during that time, but perhaps things happen behind close door that we will never know about.

1957-58/1958-59: Rollins played two season in the Western Hockey League, where he was still a superb goaltender. He was brilliant in the playoff of 1958 and receive two Second All-Star Team accolade during those two seasons. It's difficult to judge the strenght of the league and if Rollins was just dominating a lower league, but I believe he was still a fine netminder, perhaps close to a Top-10 goaltender in the world.

1959-60: With Gump Worsley going down due to an injury, the Rangers tried their luck with ageing Al Rollins, who exceeded all expectation and played beautifully with the Rangers. Newspaper were raving about Rollins, even thinking he could steal the spot of Worsley in the following season.

Al Rollins, NY103.10.920
Johnny Bower, T662.68.919
Glenn Hall, C702.57.918
Jacques Plante, M692.54.915
Terry Sawchuk, D582.69.908
Don Simmons, B283.25.901
Harry Lumley, B423.48.895
Gump Worsley393.52.893
Marcel Paille173.94.870

10 games isn't a very extensive stretch of games, but those statistics are eye popping for a goaltender who was deemed ''not good enough'' to get a position in the NHL. For me, this show that Rollins could of been a good NHL goaltender until the end of the 1960 season and that he was steal of two good NHL season by the Chicago Blackhawks.

1960 and onwards: Although Rollins time in the NHL was over, Rollins was still passionate about the game and played hockey in various minor league until 1966. He would win the Allan Cup in 1962 with the Portland Buckaroos and was still consider a top goaltender wherever he played.


What can we draw on this exhaustive essay on Al Rollins? First of all, we have to understand that Rollins is a difficult player to judge based on statistics alone. It's important to understand that the Chicago Blackhawks of the 1950's were not a bad team, they were a terrible team, awful enough defensively to be considered as one of the worst teams to ever play in the NHL. Rollins had to be the saviour on every night if he wanted his team to win the hockey game. Also, Rollins had to perform in one of the best era for hockey goaltenders. I think my year-to-year analysis draw those conclusion:

1950-51: Incredible season. Top-2 goaltender in the league, with Terry Sawchuk (Broda, Lumley, McNeil, Rayner)
1951-52: Good, but unspectacular season
1952-53: Incredible season. Best goaltender in the league (Sawchuk, Worsley, McNeil, Rayner, Lumley)
1953-54: Incredible season. Top-3 with Sawchuk and Lumley (Bower, McNeil)
1954-55: Poor season. Perhaps the worst #1 goaltender in the NHL
1955-56: Very good season for Rollins, but it looked to have been a very good season for three other goaltender in Plante, Hall and Worsley. Rollins is very probably #4, over Sawchuk and Lumley.
1956-57: Good, but unspectacular season. Hall, Plante and Sawchuk are ahead of him, while Rollins, Worsley and Chadwick look to be in the same category.
1957-58: WHL. SAST. I will abstain to make a judgement on the strength of the league, as I don't know.
1958-59: WHL. SAST. I will abstain to make a judgement on the strength of the league, as I don't know.
1959-60: 10 game stint with the dreadful Rangers, but still makes him the best statistical goaltender of the league. Too few games to pass a judgment compared to other goaltender. The conclusion is that he had an incredible stretch of game with the Rangers.


This is Al Rollins. Three incredible peak seasons, three good-to-great season and three seasons were you can guess just how good he could of been in the NHL (1957 to 1960). Rollins was a relatively consistent goaltender who lacks longevity at the NHL level (although don't think he lacks overall longevity as he played in professional leagues for 22 years). Upon further research, I don't think it's far fetched to call Al Rollins the most underrated goaltender in the history of the game, like several sources cared to write down.

I'm a little worried about throwing names out there, because I don't want the discussion on Al Rollins to become a pissing contest between teams trying to sell their goaltender, but needless to say that I don't believe that Al Rollins was the 43rd best goaltender in the history of the game, like this draft position tend to show. I believe Rollins should be viewed in the 30-35 ranges.

Last edited by EagleBelfour: 04-03-2011 at 01:50 PM.
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