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11-07-2012, 10:32 PM
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The case for Frank Brimsek:

Basically, in the late 30s, he was considered the best goalie in the world, better than Tiny Thompson who preceded him in Boston, and better than everyone who came since Charlie Gardiner. He went off to serve during World War 2, came back, and was considered just as good as Bill Durnan when he came back.

Basically, Brimsek likely peaked as high as Durnan but maintained that level for longer. And I think Brimsek was more of a difference-maker in the playoffs than Duran.

Detailed arguments from last round:

Brimsek was likely cheated out of 2-3 1st Team All Stars by the tradition that the 1st Team always went to the Vezina winner:
  • In 1942-43, players, general managers, and opposing goaltenders all seemed to agree that Brimsek was the best goalie
  • In 1947-48, Brimsek lost the 1st Team to Turk Broda, the Vezina winner, by a single point, but easily beat him in Hart voting (finishing 2nd while Broda got no votes).
  • In 1940-41, Brimsek lost the 1st Team by a single point to Broda, the Vezina winner.
  • It's highly suspicious that in Broda's long, Hall of Fame career, the only two times he was awarded the 1st Team were the two times he happened to lead the league in GAA

Brimsek likely deserved 4 1st Teams and 4 2nd Teams, with possibly a 5th 1st Team. And that's before you take into account that he lost 2 years in the middle of his prime to World War 2.

Brimsek was very good in the playoffs for most of his career
  • The Bruins ended a 10 year Cupless Drought in Brimsek's rookie year and won 2 Cups in his first 3 seasons in the league before the team was destroyed by World War 2
  • Brimsek played very well in 1946, his first playoffs after the war, but was let down by the Bruin Defense

Why Brimsek over Gardiner? Longevity. Why Brimsek over Vezina or Benedict? Better established as the best of his generation.

I also do think there is something to the statements by Jack Adams and Dick Irvin that goaltending improves over time, so the best goalie of the 40s maybe should be rated a bit higher than the best of the 20s. As a group, we seem to endorse that thinking as not a single member of our top 8 played in the NHL before 1950.

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