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12-25-2012, 01:04 PM
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The case for Rayner over Worsley

I'm probably going to have Rayner over Worsley. Rayner's consistent recognition on a bad team is awfully impressive - "3rd Team All Star in 1942," lost 3 years to the war, then was either awarded Team MVP or got significant recognition for the league-wide All Star Team in 5 of 6 seasons after the war, along with significant Hart consideration. And the one year of those 6 during which he didn't receive recognition, there were special circumstances (Rangers trying to get their pre-war goalie Jim Henry back into the action, an injury to Rayner, and Rayner taking the job back for the playoffs).

Keep in mind that Rayner was a 2nd Team All Star for 3 seasons in a row when the 1st Team always went to the GAA winner (who played a minimum number of games), and "if the GAA leader wasn't actually the best goalie, you had to be the best goalie just to be named a 2nd Teamer."

Other factors:
  • Worsley was Rayner's successor on the weak Rangers, and does not appear to be as highly regarded as Rayner, while playing for them. Worsley got more recognition after he was traded to the dynasty Habs.
  • Worsley did win 4 Cups in Montreal (2 as a starter, 2 in a platoon with 2 different goalies), but despite playing on a bad team, Rayner has a defining playoff run of his own, where the HHOF historical committee awarded Rayner the Retroactive Conn Smythe in a losing cause in 1950 (the year Lumley won his Cup).
  • It wasn't just the media who voted on awards who liked Rayner. He received a lot of praise from his peers - possibly as much as any goalie left. Gump Worsley and Johnny Bower both called Rayner their mentor. Glenn Hall ranked Rayner second behind Sawchuk "in his assessment of historic talent," which I assume means goalies that Hall saw play before Hall had established himself.

I had Rayner several spots below Worsley and Lumley on my submitted list, but I've changed my mind. I didn't realize how highly regarded he was by people who saw him play (both the press and other goalies) until I looked at it more closely.

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