#20: Bill Durnan
Bill Durnan is probably the greatest NHL goalie that no one has ever heard about.
How good was he? He won the Vezina trophy as the league’s top goalie for the first four years of his his career. In his first season with the Montreal Canadiens, he posted a record of 38 wins, five losses and seven ties in 50 games — as a rookie!
He followed that up with another 38-win season.
In total, he played only seven seasons in the league, but won the Vezina trophy six times.
He won two Stanley Cups with the Habs, and was elected to hall of fame in 1964.
He was also the captian of the Habs at one point, the last goalie to do so until Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks became their captain this season.
Two interesting stories about Durnan:
The first is that he almost never played professional hockey. The Canadiens wanted him, but Durnan had contract demands that the general manager of the Habs wouldn’t meet. So Durnan wouldn’t sign. The general manager finally caved in 10 minutes before the faceoff of the season opener (with no time to warm up, he led the Habs to a 2-2 tie).
The second is that he was ambidextrious. He wore special gloves that allowed him to use his stick or catch with either hand.
Durnan also set a record for the most consecutive shutouts, and the longest amount of time without letting a goal in, a record that lasted until 2004, when Brian Boucher of the Phoenix Coyotes broke it.
For more information on Bill Durnan: