View Single Post
01-30-2013, 12:22 AM
Registered User
TheDevilMadeMe's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Brooklyn
Country: United States
Posts: 45,608
vCash: 500
Swamp Devils pick the best goalie of his era and probably the best goalie to ever play before 1950 (more later after more players are drafted):

Frank Brimsek, G

By his third season, he was already considered the best goalie in the world and already better than his predecessor in Boston.

Brimsek was a 1st or 2nd Team All Star every year for a decade starting in his rookie year (1939), except the 2 season he missed because of World War 2.
  • 1st Team All Star (1939, 1942)
  • 2nd Team All Star (1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1948)
The First Team All Star went to the goalie with the lowest GAA (as long as he played close to a full season) 100% of the time from 1935-1956. It's highly unlikely that the goalie with the lowest GAA was the best goalie in the league year-in, year-out. Also note that the 2nd Team All Star was not attached to GAA like the 1st Team All Star was.
  • In 1942-43, players, general managers, and opposing goaltenders all seemed to agree that Brimsek was the best goalie. But the voters gave the 1st Team to the goalie who led the league in GAA (Johnny Mowers).
  • In 1947-48, Brimsek and the GAA leader (Turk Broda) were tied in voting points, and the 1st Team went to the GAA leader in a tiebreak. Brimsek easily beat him in Hart voting (finishing 2nd while the GAA leader got no votes).
  • In 1940-41, Brimsek lost the 1st Team by a single point to the GAA leader (Turk Broda) by a single point.

Frank Brimsek was likely cheated out of 2-3 1st Team All Star Teams by the tradition that the 1st Team always went to the Vezina winner. And remember that the Vezina was simply awarded to the goalie with the lowest GAA, like the modern Jennings Trophy.

I believe credit has to go to TCG for being the first to notice that the First Team All Star went to the goalie with the lowest GAA 100% of the time from 1935-1956. It's highly unlikely that the goalie with the lowest GAA was the best goalie in the league year-in, year-out. Also note that the 2nd Team All Star was not attached to GAA like the 1st Team All Star was.

Credit goes to Sturminator for doing all the original research here on Brimsek.

1942-43: Brimsek widely considered the best goalie, despite Johnny Mowers' being awarded the 1st Team

Brimsek lost a close vote to Johnny Mowers for the 1st Team All Star: 12-14, despite placing 5th in Hart voting (Mowers didn't place). It appears that Brimsek was widely considered the best goalie in the league that year, however.

By the NHL players:

Returning NHL performers who have been turning up in various prairie rinks there last few weeks, concede that they have little quarrel with the all-star band of puckists collected in the Canadian Press vote this spring. They put up a stout argument on Frankie Brimsek's behalf for the goaltending assignment, but nod assent to all other choices from then on as they sum up the dream team this way:

Johnny Mowers: A fine goalkeeper playing behind the strongest team in the big-league. Worthy of all-star recognition, but the hockey players' goaltender is Frank Brimsek. They unanimously point to Brimsek as the king of custodians. "Frankie is our man, " they chorus."
The Leader Post, April 8, 1943

By NHL coaches and managers, including Mowers' own GM:

Detroit's Johnny Mowers can't miss winning the Vezina goal-tending award but he appears far back in the running for a National Hockey league All-Star berth...Judging by the talk of the visiting hockey masterminds, the Bruins' Frankie Brimsek still is the greatest goalie in pro hockey.

Mowers can not depend upon the vote of his own boss, Jack Adams. The latter rates Mowers as a very good goaltender, "But when I am called upon to name the best one, I must pick Brimsek," Adams explained. "If there ever has been a better goalie anywhere at any time than Brimsek, I've never seen him."

Adams sadly confessed that Brimsek gives the Bruins a goal and a half start before they even take to the ice..."The only reason why Mowers has had fewer goals scored against him is because our Red Wing defensemen give him much better support than the Bruins provide Brimsek," Jolly Jack points out....Adam's high opinion of Brimsek has been loudly seconded by Chicago's Paul Thompson, Ranger's Frank Boucher, and Canadiens' Dick Irvin...that group is almost as enthusiastic about Brimsek as Art Ross, who predicted that Frankie would be the greatest goalie in history long before he ever appeared in a major league net.
The Day, Feb 3, 1943

By Johnny Mowers and Turk Broda:

Johnny Mowers is about as safe a bet as you can get to win the George Vezina Trophy this season, but he is going to be slightly embarrassed if he does. All the glowing notices so far have been reserved for frigid Frank Brimsek and Turk Broda of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But everybody who ever saw enough hockey to venture a prediction will tell you that Mowers is less efficient between the pipes than either Brimsek or Broda. Mowers himself hands the palm ungrudgingly to Brimsek and Broda was recently quoted as saying that Mr. Zero was tops in his book too, even though 126 pucks have been filtered in past the man Bun Cook discovered.

On the other hand, Broda is no slouch either. In a clutch, he is probably as smooth a worker as Brimsek although he moves his bulky form less quickly and is hardly as sharp on rebounds.
The Sunday Sun, Feb 2, 1943

1947-48: Brimsek loses the First Team on Tiebreak to Turk Broda, the Vezina Winner, while easily beating him in Hart voting

In the late 40s, the All Star teams were voted on by NHL coaches. Coaches couldn't vote for their own players, so the most votes a player could get was 5.

GOALTENDER: (54, 6-6-6) Turk Broda, Tor 19 (3-1-1); Frank Brimsek, Bos 19 (2-3-0); Bill Durnan, Mtl 9 (1-1-1); Harry Lumley, Det 7 (0-1-4)
Brimsek, however, was 2nd in Hart voting, while Broda didn't receive a single vote.

1940-41: Brimsek loses the First Team by a single point to Turk Broda, the Vezina Winner

As of now, there is no supporting evidence that this one is questionable, other than the 100% correlation between the 1st Team and the Vezina at the time.

GOALTENDER: FIRST TEAM: Turk Broda, Tor 14; Frank Brimsek, Bos 13; Johnny Mowers, Det 2
We do, however, have reports of praise that was heaped on Brimsek in only his 3rd season:

Then, just in case you think the Boston rearguard isn't so good, let us consider the last line of the Bruin defence - Frankie Brimsek. As successor to the peerless Tiny Thompson, Brimsek was sensational as a rookie. Today Brimsek, all reports to the contrary, is a better goalie than he was then.

As the Boston club was held to a 2-2 tie by an inspired band Red Wings at Olympia last Sunday evening, Brimsek gave the best display of puck fending for two periods that this observer has seen all season. Right now we'd rate him as the best goalie in the league with Johnny Mowers of the Wings second and Turk Broda of the Maple Leafs third - and we are not just judging on the basis of their goals against records.
The Windsor Daily Star, Feb 11, 1941

In conclusion

I'll just quote Sturminator here:

Originally Posted by Sturminator
I wouldn't normally make too much of the Vezina / 1st team all-star phenomenon, but the newspaper articles make it so obvious who the better goalie was and that for whatever reason the voters stuck with the Vezina winner, anyway, that it sort of calls the entire all-star system for goalies into question for that era. But once you see the papers and realize the obvious distortion, then a lot of results start to look strange. I mean...Turk Broda was only a 1st team all-star twice in his long career, the exact same years he won the Vezina, both times beating Brimsek by the thinnest of margins.

This is all very suspicious stuff. I think Brimsek is rightfully probably a 4 time 1st team / 4 time 2nd team all-star and one can quibble about another of the 2nd teams maybe being really a 1st. He also lost two prime years to the war, and if there is ever a scenario where we should count lost war years, it is for Brimsek, who was an all-star in the five years preceding the war, and in the three years after the war.
Originally Posted by Sturminator
The thing about Brimsek is that if you think about it, all those 2nd team all-star selections in an era when the first-team selection almost always went to the Vezina winner is really impressive - moreso than it appears at first glance. What it means is that in a year where the Vezina winner wasn't one of the two best goalies, Brimsek had to be the best goalie in the league just to make the second team, because the second-best goalie was not represented, at all, on the all-star team. Brimsek made eight consecutive all-star teams, with a two year break for the war almost directly in the middle of his career.
Originally Posted by Sturminator
I think people have undervalued Brimsek around here because of all the 2nd team appearances, which are deceptively good given the circumstances of his era. During Frank Brimsek's career, the winner of the Vezina trophy was the first team all-star every single season. That fact, alone, is extremely dubious, but when we combine it with multiple pieces of clear evidence that Brimsek was at times better than the Vezina winners...well, I think he starts to look more like a superstar and less like "that guy with a bunch of 2nd team all-star nods".
Brimsek likely deserved 4 1st Teams (the two he actually won plus 1943 and 1948) and 4 2nd Teams, with at least a possibly a 5th 1st Team in 1941. And that's before you take into account that he lost 2 years in the middle of his prime to World War 2.

  • 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
  • World War II decimated the Bruins. Brimsek played very well in 1946, his first playoffs after the war, but was let down by the Bruin Defense
Frank Brimsek in the playoffs

Articles found by Sturminator. Commentary is mine.

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

The Bruins of the 1930s were a team that tended to underachieve in the playoffs. The franchise won its first Cup in 1929, then wouldn't win another for a decade. The Bruins finished 1st overall in the regular season 4 of 9 years between 1929-30 and 1937-38, and yet failed to win a single Cup during this time.

Frank Brimsek was a rookie in 1938-39 and he backstopped the Bruins to their first Cup in a decade that spring. They would win against in 1941.

Was replacing Tiny Thompson with Frank Brimsek a reason for the Bruins' new postseason success? Brimsek was certainly a difference maker in 1941 as he won his second Cup:

Originally Posted by Brimsek Logical Hero of Stanley Cup Hockey Series
As goes Brimsek so goes the Bruins was the watchword and little Frank came thru (sic)...When you start adding up the credits for the Stanley Cup this year the cool goalie is the answer...

Watching the whole series - from Toronto thru Detroit - there is only one logical hero and that is Brimsek... You can name more of them and the one on the tip of your tongue is Milt Schmidt...That great center was tremendous and so was Jack Crawford."
Lewiston Evening Journal, April 14, 1941

Late the following season (1941-42), Milt Schmidt and his linemates become the first NHL stars to leave the NHL to join the war effort. The Bruins would never really recover. Brimsek himself would join the war effort for 1943-44 and 1943-45.

Brimsek played very well in 1946, his first playoffs after the war, but was let down by the Bruin Defense

Which brings us back to the series again. If there has ever been any better goaltending exhibited in a Stanley Cup final than that offered by Bill Durnan and Frankie Brimsek, no one can recall it. These two are high on the list of all-time great netminders. They are largely responsible for the low scores and the tenseness of the games.
Montreal Gazette, April 9, 1946

Canadiens Defeat Bruins, 6-3, to take Stanley Cup

Staying at the torrent pace they set all winter, Montreal Canadiens put on a three-goal splurge against Boston Bruins Tuesday night to break a 3-3 stalemate and win 6-3, capturing the Stanley Cup, emblematic of world hockey supremacy. It was the fifth game of the cup final and Canadiens won by four games to one.

Boston Defense Falters

Both teams staged furious hockey in the first two periods but in the last frame the Boston defense broke down under the pressure, paving the way for Canadiens' scoring spree.

After taking the National Hockey League championship during three consecutive seasons the smooth-working Canadiens captured their second Stanley Cup in the same number of years. They waltzed through the semifinal series in easy fashion to beat Chicago Black Hawks in four straight games and took four games from Bruins and dropped one to take the cup.

Montreal's Bill Durnan and Boston's Frankie Brimsek, who staged a terrific goaltending duel throughout the series, again turned in outstanding exhibitions of puck stopping Tuesday night. Brimsek deserved no part of the Boston defeat, which was mainly due to a weak defence that left him time and time again without protection.
Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, April 10, 1946


Frank Brimsek was a strong playoff performer from his rookie season in 1939 until 1946. He won 2 Cups in his first 3 seasons in the league, after the Bruins had just gone through a 10 year Cup drought. World War 2 destroyed the Bruins, however. In Brimsek's first year back from the War (1946), he was stellar in the playoffs, but his defense let him down.

The question then remains, how much should Brimsek be faulted for the three straight first round losses in 1947, 1948, and 1949 to close out his career?

Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 01-30-2013 at 12:29 AM.
TheDevilMadeMe is online now   Reply With Quote