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04-24-2011, 02:52 AM
Student Of The Game
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Location: Regina, SK
Country: Canada
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With the 827th pick in ATD2011, The Regina Pats are pleased to select:

Roger Crozier, G

- 5'8", 165 lbs
- Stanley Cup Finalist (1966, 1975)
- Conn Smythe Trophy (1966)
- NHL 1st All-Star Team (1965)
- Also 3rd, 5th, 6th in All-Star Voting
- 4th in Hart Voting (1965)
- Top-10 in post-expansion sv% twice (4th-1970, 10th-1973)

Originally Posted by
Born in Bracebridge, Ontario on March 16 1942 goaltender Roger Crozier made his NHL debut when Detroit Red Wings star netminder Terry Sawchuk was felled by injury. Crozier played the last 15 games of the season for Detroit and impressed the brass enough that exposed Sawchuk in the waiver draft. When Sawchuk was claimed by the Maple Leafs, Crozier was handed the starting job.

Crozier put together an incredible rookie season, playing 70 games while winning a league-leading 40 of them as well as leading the NHL in shutouts with six. Crozier was named to the First All-Star Team as well as being anointed the leagues top rookie. Crozier, who suffered from pancreaitis missed the beginning of the 1965-66 season, but when he returned he was able to deliver a worthy encore to his solid rookie campaign. Again Crozier led the league in games played and shutouts and his solid play led the Wings to the 1966 Stanley Cup Finals. Though they fell to the Montreal Canadiens, Crozier was named the playoff MVP in defeat.

Injuries and illness kept Crozier from building on his early success and in 1970 he was traded to the expansion Buffalo Sabres. With Buffalo Crozier platooned with Dave Dryden and later Gerry Desjardins. His most successful year with Buffalo came in 1974-75 when he recorded a 17-2 record then teamed with Desjardins to backstop the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals in just their fifth season.

In 1976-77 Crozier hadn't played at all when the Buffalo Sabres traded his rights to the Washington Capitals on March 3rd, 1977. He played three contests for the Capitals, the last three games of his career.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
The game of hockey was more torture than joy Bracebridge, Ontario native Roger Crozier.

Crozier developed his first ulcer playing junior for the St. Catharines Teepees from 1959-62, winning the Memorial Cup in 1960. He would be hospitalized with pancreatitis more than 30 times during his NHL career. An early infection nearly killed him.

He made his big-league debut in 1963 as a 21-year-old call-up from the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets. Maskless, he had his cheekbone fractured by a Frank Mahovlich slapshot early in his first game, yet toughed it out to finish with a 1-1 tie before being sidelined for two weeks.

Unlike a lot of goaltenders Crozier never had great self esteem., especially after Detroit waived the great Terry Sawchuk. "Detroit have had such great goalies - Sawchuk, Glenn Hall and Harry Lumley. Now they're stuck with a little runt like me,'' he said.

But the runt earned the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie in 1964-65, playing all 70 games, winning 40, earning six shutouts and losing the Vezina as the league's top goaltender to Bower and Sawchuk by two goals in the season's final game, a 4-0 Toronto victory over Detroit.

An acrobat on skates, he took Detroit to the 1966 Stanley Cup final against the Canadiens, a six-game loss, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy and its $1,000 bonus and gold Mustang convertible as the playoffs' most valuable player. He starred in every match, despite an ankle badly sprained in Game 4.

Crozier's frayed nerves were legendary. Having lost three straight games at age 25, he quit hockey and returned home to Bracebridge to work as a carpenter. He had a change of heart four months later, and in June 1970 was traded to the expansion Buffalo Sabres for Tom Webster.

In Buffalo he again led a team to the Stanley Cup finals, this time losing a six-game Stanley Cup final to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1974-75. Crozier retired in 1977 after three games, having being dealt to Washington Capitals.

The reluctant Crozier endured a 518-game NHL career that included 206 victories and 30 shutouts.
Originally Posted by
In their first year in the National Hockey League, Roger Crozier, perhaps more than any other player, gave the Buffalo Sabres instant credibility. An aging veteran with a laundry list of injuries and ailments, Crozier was often out of the lineup, unable to play during his tenure in Buffalo. When he was healthy, Crozier was a force to be reconed with. An acrobatic goalie who challenged shooters with reckless abandon, Crozier's experience and veteran poise gave the Sabres a chance to win any time he was between the pipes. That's saying a lot when you consider the lackluster Sabres defense in the first couple of years of the team's existence. Crozier often faced between 40 and 50 shots against a game during the team's first two years in the NHL. Still, despite all the illness and adversity he faced while with the Sabres, the young team was competitive from the start, thanks in large part to the contributions of Roger Crozier.

...Crozier turned pro full-time in 1962, spending the 1962-63 season with the St. Louis Braves of the EPHL and the Bisons. In 1963, the Black Hawks traded Crozier to the Detroit Red Wings.

Crozier made his NHL debut during the 1963-64 season, playing 15 games as a backup to the legendary Red Wings goaltender Terry Sawchuk. The Red Wings organization was so impressed with Crozier's play that during the off-season, Sawchuk was traded and Crozier was given the starting nod.

As a rookie, Crozier started all 70 of Detroit's games during the 1964-65 season. His backup, Carl Wetzel, saw only 33 minutes of action during the entire season. Crozier was the last goaltender in NHL history to play in all of his team's games. Crozier turned in an impressive rookie campaign.

Crozier was returned to the Teepees for the 1961-62 season. He spent the majority of the season there. He was called up for one game with the Bisons, and spent three games with the Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds of the Eastern Professional Hockey League during the season.

In 1965-66, Crozier led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals. Detroit won the first two games of the series, benefiting from a solid performance by Crozier. When a Montreal player slammed into Crozier during Game 3, Crozier was knocked out with a leg injury, and the Red Wings lost the game. Crozier returned for Game 4, and while playing on the injured leg, held the mighty Canadiens to just 2 goals. Despite his fine play, the Red Wings lost again. Montreal would take Game 5 as well. In Game 6, still suffering from the leg injury, Crozier held the Canadiens to a tie in regulation time. Montreal would go on to win the game and the series in overtime. Despite losing the Cup, at the end of the series Crozier's heroic effort earned his the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff M.V.P. Crozier was the first goaltender, as well as the first player from a non-championship team to win the award. To date, only three other players have won the Conn Smythe Trophy without also winning the Stanley Cup.

In 1967, Crozier would have his first prolonged bout with pancreatitis, the ailment that would hamper him throughout the remainder of his career. After missing a stretch at the beginning of the 1967-68 season, Crozier announced his retirement. After six weeks, Crozier decided he had recovered enough to return to action, and he rejoined the Red Wings after a brief conditioning stint in the AHL. Crozier would miss portions of the next two seasons with pancreatitis and related illnesses.

At the 1970 Expansion Draft, Sabres General Manager Punch Imlach went about the business of building an NHL team from scratch. Imlach knew that solid goaltending would be the cornerstone around which a competitive team must be built. To that end, Imlach picked up goaltender Joe Daley, whom the Pittsburgh Penguins were trying to sneak through the Waiver Draft. Daley was an experienced NHL goalie, but not one who Imlach thought could carry the load throughout the season. Imlach was on the lookout for a deal which would bring him another veteran to share the goaltending duties with Daley.

As the teams gathered for the Expansion Draft on June 10, 1970,
Imlach was approached by Detroit Red Wings GM Sid Abel. Abel told Imlach that he was going to trade Roger Crozier to Boston for right wing Tom Webster, who happened to be on Boston's list of players available in the Expansion Draft. If Imlach picked Webster in the draft, Abel would trade Crozier to him, cutting the Bruins out of the deal. Later, Boston GM Milt Schmidt pulled Imlach aside, and not knowing about the conversation between Imalch and Abel, and asked him to take forward Garnet "Ace" Bailey with the first pick in the draft, because he had planned on trading Webster to Detroit for Crozier. Schmidt walked back to Boston's table thinking he had a deal with Imlach, while Imlach preferred to deal with Detroit. Imlach came to the podium to make his first pick in the Expansion Draft and picked Webster, much to the displeasure of Schmidt. Webster was quickly shipped off to the Red Wings, and Roger Crozier was a Sabre.

With Crozier, Daley and Dave Dryden, who was also acquired in the spring of 1970, Imlach had a solid goaltending corps around which to build his team.

Crozier was the starting goaltender for the Sabres' first ever NHL game on October 10, 1970 in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. Crozier turned aside 35 of Pittsburgh's 36 shots as the Sabres earned their first NHL win by a score of 2-1. The 35 save effort was actually an easy night for Crozier during that first season. Four nights later, Crozier would face 53 shots on net as the Sabres were shut out by the powerful Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in their home opener. 21 of those shots came in the second period alone. On November 18, 1970, Crozier made 40 saves on 42 shots as the Sabres invaded the Maple Leaf Gardens, beating Imlach's former club by a score of 7-2.

Despite the constant pressure of facing so many shots a night, Crozier played extremely well, keeping the Sabres close in most of their games. He registered the first shut out in Sabres history on December 6, 1970 as the Sabres blanked the Minnesota North Stars 1-0 at the Aud in Buffalo.

By late December, 1970, the pressure of being the Sabres' number one goaltender took it's toll, and Crozier was out of the lineup, suffering from sheer exhaustion. Daley and Dryden carried the load for much of the rest of the season, with Crozier playing only sparingly. He finished the season with a 3.69 GAA in 44 games played, winning 9, losing 20 with 7 ties.

Crozier fared a little better health-wise during the 1971-72 season. He competed in 63 of Buffalo's 78 games, posting a 3.51 GAA and 2 shutouts. Though the Sabres finished the year with the worst win-loss record in the league, Crozier's play couldn't be faulted for it. Crozier faced 2,190 shots against during the 1971-72 season, which is still the team's record for shots faced by a goaltender in a single season. At the end of the season, his teammates voted Crozier their Most Valuable Player, and he was presented with the Wayne Larkin Memorial Trophy. He also won the team's "Star of Stars" Trophy, for the most three stars selections during the season.

1971-72 would be Crozier's last full season as a starting goaltender in the NHL. Illnesses and injuries limited Crozier's playing time for the rest of his career. In addition to the pancreatitis he had been suffering from since the late 60's, ulcers and gall bladder problems conspired to keep Crozier in almost constant pain. Often, Sabres coach Joe Crozier (no relation to Roger) wouldn't know until game time who his starting goaltender would be. As the goaltenders would take pre-game warmup, Joe Crozier would wait and watch to see if Roger would nod to him or not. If he did, that meant he was feeling well enough to play. If not, backup Dave Dryden would be pressed into action.
Crozier nodded 46 times during the 1972-73 season. With an improved Sabres defense playing in front of him, Crozier turned in a 23-13-7 record with a 2.76 GAA and 3 shutouts. Dryden benefitted from the extra help on defense as well, and the Sabres had their best season since coming into the league, making the Playoffs for the first time in club history. In the Playoffs, Crozier played in 4 of the team's 6 games in a first round loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens. Crozier won two of those games, including one in Montreal.

The 1973-74 season was a disappointing one for the Sabres all around. Injuries took some of the team's most talented players from the lineup. Crozier's ailments limited him to only 12 games, and Dryden took over as the team's starter. In February, veteran defenseman Tim Horton, one of the biggest contributors for the Sabres' improved defensive play, was killed in a car accident on his way home from a game in Toronto, sending the young team into a tailspin. The season ended with the Sabres missing the Playoffs by 10 points.

Under new coach Floyd Smith, who was the Sabres' Captain during their first year in the league, the 1974-75 Sabres were one of the best teams in the NHL. They won the Adams Division for the first time in history, finishing the season with 49 wins, 16 losses and 15 ties, still the best record in franchise history. Crozier contributed 17 wins to the effort in 23 games played. He finished the season with a 2.62 GAA and three shutouts.

In the Playoffs, the Sabres tore through the Chicago Black Hawks and Montreal Canadiens en route to the Prince of Wales Conference Championship and the team's first ever Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Crozier played in 3 games for the Sabres during the 1975 Playoffs, including two games in the Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. One of those games that Crozier appeared in was Game 3, the infamous "fog game". A rare May heat wave hit Buffalo, causing the temperatures inside the Aud to jump into the 90's. With no air conditioning inside the building, an eerie fog rose from the ice to enshroud the players. The thick fog made it hard for the goalies to see, and stop, the puck, and the teams skated to a 4-4 tie in regulation. In overtime, Crozier held the Flyers off, and Sabres right winger Rene Robert put one past Philadelphia goalie Bernie Parent to seal it for the home team. Crozier was also in net for Game 6 of the series. He held the Flyers scoreless through two periods, but gave up 2 third period goals as the Flyers clinched the Stanley Cup in Buffalo.
Originally Posted by Phil Ranallo article, February 23, 1973
AT LAST, LIFE IS beautiful for Roger Crozier or almost as beautiful as life can get for a fellow who holds down one of the most terrifying and dangerous jobs in the world of fun and games.

For the first two years of the existence of the Buffalo Sabres, Crozier stood smack-dab in the center of the bull’s-eye. The cat-quick goaltender was the Sabres’ first line of defense.

Pucks, pucks, pucks, pucks, an endless barrage of rock-hard pucks was fired at him. Tending goal for the Sabres was like being positioned at the wrong end of things in a shooting gallery.

Roger survived those two frightening years; but ended up with more lumps and bruises than a guy who had picked an argument with a cement mixer – while inside the cement mixer. It was enough to give a fellow a nervous twitch.

THIS SEASON, THOUGH–heaven, at last! Players still swarm in on Crozier with sticks in their hands and knives on their feet. But the Sabres have taken some of the pressure off “No. 1,” the gutsy guy who resides in “No-Man’s Land”, the crease, that oblong area in front of the net.

“Yes, Life is a lot easier on me now,” says Crozier, who in his 13-year career has collected numerous badges of his trade-three broken jaws, one broken nose, one broken cheekbone and facial crocheting that adds up to “maybe 300 stitches.”

“It’s easier because we’re a good hockey team now. We’ve come ‘quite far quite fast because of the great job management has done-Punch Imlach and Joe Crozier.

“At the beginning of the season, when we went through 10, games unbeaten, we didn’t really know how good we were, and wondered whether we were just lucky.

“NOW THAT WE’VE GONE through 60 games, it’s different. We know we’re not a flash-in-the-pan team, We think we’re as good a hockey club as there is in the league-with the exception of Montreal, maybe.”

Then Crozier spoke of the Sabre defense and paid special tribute to Buffalo’s geriatric marvel Tim Horton, the 43·year-old Sabre who is making his mark as hockey’s George Blanda.

“I’d watched Horton play for years, but never realized how good a defenseman he is. I didn’t appreciate him (until I played behind him.

“Nobody takes the puck away from Tim in the corners and nobody can check him in front of the net, He’s unbelievably strong, He’s great at getting the puck out of ‘our end of the rink,”

THE CONVERSATION SWUNG back to goaltending and Crozier confessed that he does not regard it as the greatest job in the world-or in hockey. He mentioned the pressure of being the last line of defense pressure that gnaws at a goalie’s stomach-literally in Crozier’s case, since he is prone to attacks of pancreatitis.

“If a forward or a defenseman is playing badly,” Crozier said, “he gets a chance to go to the bench and get re-organized. But a goalie has to stay out there-and it’s murder on him when he’s having a bad night.”

Crozier said he has one fear-the fear that he will play a bad game, “It’s the same-fear every goalie has when he first hits the ice-because he can’t be sure if he’s going to be good or bad.”

SO WHY DID CROZIER become a goalie? “When I was a kid, goaltending seemed like a pretty good idea,” he explained, “I worked at it hard and the first thing I knew it was the only position I could play with ability.”

“If I had my choice over again, though, if I could go back and start all over again, I’d be a forward or a defenseman-for sure,”

Sabre fans are happy that Roger Crozier, the great goaltender with the marvelous moves, does not have that choice. Tonight, when the Sabres meet the Vancouver Canucks in Memorial Auditorium, could be a special night in the life of Roger Crozier. Roger could reach a milestone, if he makes 26 saves, he’ll reach the 4,000 save plateau as a Sabre goaltender. That’s more than half-ton of vulcanized rubber he has kept out of the net in less than three years.

Originally Posted by Players: the Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL
… Crozier's brilliant play earned him the Conn Smythe trophy, and after two full seasons nobody in the league looked more certain of a Hall of Fame career. But all his life he had been plagued by stomach troubles, his body's way of making it clear the stress it felt from being an original six goalie...
Originally Posted by Fischler's Hockey Encyclopedia
coaxing Roger Crozier out of retirement is never an easy thing, although it has been accomplished more than once, the latest convincing being done by Punch Imlach in 1974. When Roger is sharp, he is among the best in hockey, but stomach and pancreas problems have hindered "the dodger" since he captured the Calder trophy in 1965 and the conn Smythe the following season.
Originally Posted by The All-New Hockey's 100
#85 – Roger Crozier - one of the great stylists of goaltending. Small for a goalie, he nevertheless played 14 seasons in the NHL. Unfortunately for Roger, he played most of his career on mediocre teams, playing for the Detroit Red Wings, the Buffalo Sabres, and later the Washington Capitals. Equally unfortunate were the stomach and pancreas problems that plagued Roger throughout his career. A compulsive worrier, Crozier developed an ulcer at age 17. Many times he could not eat before a game, or afterwards. Despite the many troubles that faced Roger – the illness, the nerves, or the mediocre clubs that he played on – he was an outstanding goaltender during his long career.

Crozier was the goalie for the first All-Star team in 1965, an honor he richly deserved. In 1966 Stanley Cup finals, Roger won the conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs, even though Detroit lost the final to the Montréal Canadiens, after a two games to zero Redwing in the series.

Hockey critics weren't fans of Crozier, who was small at 5'8" and 155 pounds, and they doubted that his sprawling style would succeed in the NHL…

During the 1966 playoffs, Roger virtually single-handedly defeated the powerful Montrealers in the first two games. His play inspired even his rivals to toast Rogers excellence. Jacques Laperriere, the fine defenseman, remembered it like this. "We were just as good, may be better. What one those first two games for them was their goalie, Roger Crozier. He was making all the saves and it looked like we could never get the puck past him."

Traded to Buffalo in 1970, Roger played several seasons, but missed many games due to his illness. He had five pancreas attacks that put him in the hospital for over nine months. When Crozier came back to Buffalo after almost a year of illness, he was scheduled to start against Toronto. During the warm-ups, he was hit on the right side of his neck, just above the collarbone by a drive off the stick of defenseman Jerry Korab. That area is just about the only spot on a goaltenders body that is not protected by a pad or a mask. Roger was knocked unconscious by the powerful shot. Because of his constant illness, even when Roger returned to action, he was still not in the best of health… "I never feel 100%, and I never will again. I just have to accept it."

Roger was one of the first modern goalies – he perfected the butterfly style. He was a great stylist and was an interesting goalie to watch. To think that his minor-league coaches had tried to "cure him" of his habit of sprawling! Had they been successful, it surely would have been hockey's loss.
Originally Posted by without Fear
Johnny Bower's commentary on Crozier: "Roger was an average size goalie but he was all heart. He would've had a Hall of Fame career had illness not cut it short. He would come way out of the crease to take away the net. He was so quick that he'd move right back in and then if need be back out again to take away the corners. I think that Rogers record speaks for itself, in that he won the Hap Holmes, Calder, and conn Smythe trophies in three consecutive years.

Jim Rutherford on Crozier: "he is very similar to Jose Theodore: quick, small goaltenders with a great glove hand. Roger was a lot more spectacular than Theodore. There was a lot of talk in those days about Roger's nervousness and what he went through before and after again, but he was a great goaltender. And he was a great guy. I remember I spent one training camp with him and he was great to me. Just a first-class man.

. He spent his entire NHL career trying to stop pucks while dealing with serious health issues that included an ulcer and pancreatitis… Like Glenn Hall he could look like an octopus in the net, with his arms and legs flailing about. The great Maurice "rocket" Richard once said that Crozier "probably has the best reflexes in hockey". says former Detroit defenseman Bill Gadsby: "he would have one arm on the crossbar and his leg sticking way out over there and the other hand would be stretched out. I used to sit on the bench and think, how in the heck did he get that one? His glove would never be really thought it should be. I've seen him with his elbow on the crossbar, and he would just be hanging there. But he always managed to stop the puck." With his catching glove on his right hand, Crozier always appeared to be even more unorthodox than he was. He would show open net and then take it away with the quickness and magic of his glove hand.

When Crozier won the conn Smythe trophy while playing for the losing team in the 1966 Stanley Cup final, it seemed as if he was on the road to greatness. But analysis of Crozier's career today now centers on the hypothetical question of what he might have been able to accomplish had he been blessed with good health. "His stomach problems were far more serious than any of us knew in Detroit," Gadsby says.

While many players struggled to keep weight off, Crozier always fought to keep weight on his frame in his early days with the Red Wings. Because illness would limit what he could eat, his weight would sometimes get below 160. It also didn't help that he was a fretter and prone to self-doubt.… Crozier was never able to achieve the superstardom that was expected of him. Dave Dryden, Crozier's goaltending partner in Buffalo, said "I did get a kick out of his philosophy. He was always saying when he was up in Bracebridge, on the roof of a cottage and hammering a nail, that there aren't 15,000 people booing if he bends one. If you bend the nail, you bend the nail. He would hint that he couldn't take the pressure."

Despite the torturous ordeal Crozier went through while playing, teammates remember that he was a fun-loving guy who enjoyed teen pranks and jokes. Crozier, who died in 1996, could laugh in the face of constant pain. Even though his achievements pale in comparison to some of the legends of the game, hockey aficionados still view him as a true goaltending great.
Originally Posted by heroes of Hockeytown
like most goaltenders, Roger Crozier had idiosyncrasies for which netminders are known… A small goaltender, Crozier was one of the pioneers of the sprawling, scrambling butterfly style. But it was very popular with hockey observers in those dates. "He was acrobatic and really, he was probably the Hasek of the 60s," said hockey historian Bob Duff. "People always criticized the way he played, but he was successful." In fact, the scout who spotted & Crozier thought he was too small to ever make it to the NHL… "Roger was a short little goaltender who had amazing agility and, basically, used to chin himself on the crossbar, they said, because he was so short."

"I remember in Buffalo, towards the end of his career, he was just in agony," said Duff. "I still think if Buffalo would've played him earlier in the 1975 finals, they might have beaten the flyers."… If not for his poor health his numbers surely would have been more impressive, but Crozier still had an outstanding career and made his mark in Detroit and on the entire NHL.
Originally Posted by The Men in the Nets
goaltenders, by the very nature of their job, are loners who seem to feel the whole world is against them. And if you or I dressed up in 40 pounds of having two or three times a week and we had people firing hard pieces of rubber at us, we too might develop a persecution complex. But even among the goaltenders, as neurotic a group of men as will be found in professional sport, Roger Crozier of the Buffalo Sabres is the champion freestyle worrier... Over the season he frets and worries away 10 pounds he can ill afford to lose… Crozier is as nervous and fidgety as any goalie in hockey. Yet, except for his habit of twitching his neck like a duck, he appears to be the most relaxed man on the ice, almost bored by what is going on. This is one of the things that makes him a great goalkeeper – his ability to keep his wits when the going is toughest. It takes a special person to be a goalie and Roger Crozier is a special person. Though he is obsessed with worries, one thing that never seems to concern him is the fear of injury

But if he is unconcerned about being injured, Crozier has other things on his mind. "I worry about pucks going past me into the net. I worry about having a bad game, but most of all I worry about my job. If I have a couple of bad games in a row I know someone else will be playing goal for the Red Wings." Crozier did have a few bad games during the 1967 season and just as he feared he lost his job. Said Detroit coach Sid Abel: "I don't know what's happened to him, but he just is playing like he did." What evil and the Red Wings refused to admit was that the entire team was not playing as of half the year before. But when things are going badly the oldest ploy in hockey is to blame the goalie. And that's exactly what the Red Wings did… It was only six months before that the same Sid Abel was hailing Crozier as the finest goalie in hockey. He played so well during the 1966 Stanley Cup playoffs that even though his team lost he was awarded the conn Smythe trophy as the outstanding player in the series.… But a goalie is only as good as his last game so Roger Crozier lost his job. To a man torn by self-doubts, as he is, it was a shattering blow. One night, soon after Crozier was benched, Jack Barry, the hockey writer for the Detroit Free Press, sat on the plane with Crozier. "I'm embarrassed by what has happened. And I still can't understand. My health has never been better. For the first time since I came into the league I really felt like playing. I just wish I knew what went wrong." Crozier did get his job back eventually, once the Red Wings realized they were winning with Hank Bassen, his replacement, either. And once he did, Roger kept it for the balance of the season, for the little guy is a fighter as well as a worrier.

But the way it is for goaltenders. One moment you are being hailed as the best in the business, the next you're on the bench. No wonder goalies are a little odd. You have to be to take the physical beating from the flying pucks, but also the mental whipping of knowing one bad game can mean their jobs.

One unusual thing about Crozier is that he usually plays better when he isn't feeling well. He had a fine season in 1966, and in the playoffs Crozier was better than any goalie had a right to be as the Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the semifinals. In the first two games of the finals against Montréal, Crozier, if anything, was even more spectacular. But he was injured in the fourth game, and though he came back to play despite the painful pulled muscle in his groin, he just wasn't as effective.

… Abel knew that a man plagued by self-doubts would never develop into a top-flight goalie if he had Sawchuk to battle for the job. But given the job on his own – and at the time Detroit had no choice since he was the only NHL caliber goalie they had – Abel was sure Crozier would come through. Not many people agreed with him. Even Crozier sounded dubious. "Detroit has had such great goalies as saw Chuck, Glenn Hall, and Harry Lumley, and now they're stuck with the little runt like me." Seldom has any player come into the NHL and had so many slings and arrows tossed his way.

His critics felt Crozier had another problem besides his lack of stature. His minor-league coaches had tried in vain to cure him of his habit of sprawling, like a circus acrobat, to stop shots, many of which wouldn't have been on the net anyway. "Sure he goes down a lot," Abel said. "But he also gets up faster than any goalie in the league. I'm not even going to try to change his style. Roger is so quick he can scroll around and stop shots and be back on his feet for the rebound. He also has the best hands of any goalie of ever seen. I think he'll be one of the great ones."

One reason he had so much trouble convincing anyone but Abel that he was a big leaguer is that Roger Crozier doesn't look much like a goalie or act like one either. You see him out of his uniform and he is so small and wispy did you get the feeling that a hard shot puck would go right through him. And almost always he has that hangdog expression on his face. "The only time I really forget about my problems is after a game when we won. But by the next morning I'll be worrying again."

Many of us, in more mundane occupations, undoubtedly envy Roger Crozier and his life as a hockey player. He earns $35,000 a year, has a house without a mortgage, drives a car he won playing hockey and is the best-known man in his hometown. Roger Crozier would gladly swap places with you or me any day. "I like everything about hockey, the traveling, the friends I've met, the interviews. Everything but the games. They're pure torture. A few summers ago I worked for a warehousing company in Bracebridge and found it so relaxing to do an honest days work and then go home and forget about it. When I'm playing hockey emirate all the time that someone is going to get my job. But every time I get discouraged I think of how well the man with my education could earn this much money. Of course, I couldn't."

Buffalo Sabres traded their first draft choice, Tom Webster, to the Red Wings for Crozier in June of 1970. And Punch Imlach, the general manager of the Sabres, has never regretted making the deal. He rates Crozier as one of the best goalies in the NHL. He has to be to allow as few goals as he does behind the inexperienced Buffalo defense.
Originally Posted by Shooting Stars
all these years later, Crozier's crease mandate is upsetting to read: "the only way a goaltender can look good is to get a shutout. It's impossible to look good when a goal is scored against you, even if you didn't have a chance… The pressures on you all the time."
Originally Posted by Hockey All-Stars
"I still do not believe it," said Jean Beliveau after game two. "I don't think I ever shot a puck harder. I put everything into it. It was streaking for the upper right-hand corner, but Crozier throughout his hand, made a perfect catch and tossed the puck away. How did he stop it?"
Originally Posted by Years of Glory – the National Hockey League's Official Book of the Six Team Era
Detroit's Roger Crozier proved himself to be the league's finest young goaltenders, and his acrobatic style won praise throughout the NHL.
Originally Posted by History of Hockeytown
so certain was Detroit coach-GM Sid Abel that Roger Crozier was a budding NHL superstar, he didn't protect veteran Terry Sawchuk for the 1964 NHL intra-league draft, losing his three time Vezina Trophy winner to Toronto. "If he doesn't do the job, I'll be sitting out there in the stands like everyone else, wondering what the devil went wrong. But I have the utmost confidence in him. He's going to be a star. His quick and he's got fast hands." Abel's faith was rewarded.
Originally Posted by Detroit Red Wings Greatest Moments and Players
if Glenn Hall was the first goaltender to popularize the butterfly style of puck stopping, Roger Crozier was the first puck stopper to take that form to the next level. He is never mentioned in the same breath as Glenn Hall when it comes to the all-time top goaltenders. But had constant ill health not bedeviled Crozier, there is every possibility he would have been ranked with the likes of Hall, Terry Sawchuk, and Jacques Plante of the pre-expansion era.
Originally Posted by Wings of Fire
an acrobatic, fall down goalie… Crozier was quite the worrior when it came to his performance, and in 1967, lost confidence in his ability to tended goal, and temporarily retired for 2 1/2 months… "It's the fear of playing bad that worries a goalie most. You can't afford to go out and feel shaky. There are 18 guys on your bench looking, 15,000 fans. The pressure is on you. Every team in this league needs great goaltending, so it's up to you – the guy in the net."

Surprisingly, he enjoyed playing for the expansion Buffalo Sabres the most. In an article of the hockey news, he explained: "there were a lot of games I played with those early Sabres teams that I could walk out of the locker room, win or lose, and feel satisfied that I had done the best I could."
Originally Posted by The History of the Buffalo Sabres
the deepest part of the new team figured to be in goal. Roger Crozier gave the team instant credibility at the position.

... Those young players also knew that no matter what happened, goalie Roger Crozier probably would keep the Sabres at least close. He stayed healthy enough that season to play 63 games. Crozier was named the team's MVP at the end of the season.

Game six of the 1975 Stanley Cup finals featured a superb display of goaltending by both Crozier and parent. The contest was scoreless after 40 minutes. 11 seconds into the third period, Bob Kelly picked up the puck and found himself all alone in front the net. "I was covering the short side, but he threw it to the long side. I got a piece of it, but it wasn't enough." Parent came up with several great saves in the third stanza, including a brilliant stop on Luce. The flyers ran out the clock to win 2-0 and clinch their second straight Stanley Cup.
Gump Worsley thought Crozier didn't deserve the Conn Smythe - he used GAA as his argument, but he might have actually been right. Worsley faced 29.0 shots per game to Crozier's 27.5, and saved 93.1% of them; Crozier stopped 91.5%:

Originally Posted by Without Fear
Worsley: "I had played all 10 playoff games and have allowed only 20 goals. Roger had given up 26 and 12 games and wound up on the losing team."
A quick recap of Crozier's stealing of Terry Sawchuk's job:

Originally Posted by Shutout: the Legend of Terry Sawchuk
" he could be the find of the century. He could be great," Abel raved of Roger Crozier, 21, who had been acquired from Chicago the previous June. "It looks like he will be in the Detroit hockey picture for years and years." ... Abel made a point of stressing that "regardless of how well Terry is playing," Crozier would take over upon his return (from having his cheekbone shattered by Frank Mahovlich drive ). "I think he's the only one who can lead us out of this slump. They played better with Roger in goal than anyone else we've had. We've been getting a lot of goals scored against us, so that's an obvious change. It's not because of Terry's sore back, either, because I would make the switch even if both he and Crozier were healthy."

Not everyone felt as certain as able the new kid had a future in the big league. "Crozier sprawls and goes down too much," pronounced King Clancy, Toronto's assistant general manager. One writer compared Crozier's playing style to "a frenzied acrobat playing with the pitch. He bends low in the Crouch of the catcher. He falls to his knees. Sometimes, swift and agile, he doubles over in the fashion of an inverted U." The most popular criticism was that Crozier, at 5 foot seven and 145 pounds, was too small to long withstand the rigors of NHL play. "He's nothing but a singer midget," sniffed Clancy. Jacques Plante, who by now tended goal for the New York Rangers, agreed with the others about Crozier's lack of size, and had trouble understanding why the players felt they needed to change. "No matter how good he plays, he won't be as good as Sawchuk."

Possibly no goalie before or since has been as good as Sawchuk at his best. But Crozier more than justified Abel's confidence when he returned to the lineup two weeks later. The wings won twice and played three times in his first five games. Abel planned to keep on giving Crozier the majority of starts… That didn't mean that Terry had conceded the number one ranking to Crozier. Or that he felt the end of his career was necessarily at hand.

"I think my daughter thought somebody had hit me on the head with a hammer because I let Terry go," Abel said. "We hated to lose Terry, especially in view of all that he has done for the Red Wings. But Terry is 34 and he only played a little more than half the season for us each of the last two years and we had to make the move. Roger Crozier is our goalie and he certainly proved he belongs in the NHL... It may have solved the problem for us because we may have had to ask Terry to play at Pittsburgh next year and this is something we would not have wanted to do."

Dire predictions to the contrary, the wings managed quite nicely with the diminutive Crozier guarding the cage. Crozier withstood the daily grind to become the league's only goalie to play all 70 games and was named the league's outstanding rookie.

(when traded back to Detroit in 1968) Gadsby and general manager Sid Abel saw Terry as the backup and mentor to Roger Crozier and Roy Edwards… Crozier was to be Terry's personal project. The year before, when the wings had finished out of the playoffs for the second year running, the high strung little netminder had quit the team and hockey for three months, returning to his home in Bracebridge, Ontario to work as a carpenter. It would be the job of Sawchuk, the moodiest and most volatile goaltender of his era, to help Crozier keep his emotions in check... Gadsby soon lauded the impact that Terry had made on Crozier. "You know how jittery Roger can get. Well, since Terry has been working with him he has really calmed down. I think, for probably the first time in a long time, Roger's really enjoying playing goal."
Originally Posted by Punch Imlach: Heaven & Hell In the NHL
Whatever else we got in the expansion draft, we just had to come up with an NHL goalkeeper. But Crozier was just beyond my wildest dreams. He had won the rookie award in his first full year, the Conn Smythe as the MVP of the playoffs a year later, and he had a low 2.65 GAA in the season just ended. But he wasn't happy in Detroit and they thought he was sick too much. That's when you can get a guy.
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1972
small but acrobatic... high-strung and nervous
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1973
sabres argue that he's the best goalies in the NHL... certainly, he's one of the most underrated... performed heroically for Buffalo last year, playing all but 15 games... a real acrobat in the nets...
Originally Posted by Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1974
he's been an all-star only once, but many players in the NHL consider him to be among the best and most courageous goaltenders... an acrobat who specializes in diving, spectacular point-blank saves few goalies can make... once was spectacular but lost, 9-5, to Rangers in 65-shot bombardment... an unheralded star in Detroit before joining Sabres.

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