Only 6 Goalies Have Been MVP in the History of the NHL
The Hart Memorial Trophy has been handed out since the 1923-24 season as the National Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player. In the eighty plus years since that first year, the Hart Trophy has gone to just six different goaltenders.
Roy Worters of the New York Americans was the first goalie to be awarded the Hart in 1928-29. Worters is the only New York American to ever win the Hart and, to this day, is the shortest player to play in the NHL at 5’3”. Despite playing for a less than stellar New York team, Roy had a 1.15 goals against average and 13 shutouts that season.
It would take over thirty years for the next goaltender to be awarded the Hart. Chuck Raynor of the New York Rangers won the trophy in 1949-50. Raynor finished the season with a 2.62 GAA and six shutouts which were both good for just fourth place in the six team league. However, the Rangers finished fourth despite the lowest goals scored in the league and the team upset the Montreal Canadiens in the semi-finals before losing out to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the Stanley Cup final.
Al Rollins of the Chicago Black Hawks was the next goalie to win the Hart. In 1953-54, Chicago won just twelve of 70 games and Rollins had the worst goaltending numbers in the league. However, if it wasn’t for his consistent play despite being bombarded on a nightly basis, Chicago may not have won a single game. Therefore, Rollins truly was the Most Valuable Player to his team.
In 1961-62, the great Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens finally was awarded with the Hart after a stellar career to that point. Proof of how far we’ve come in the age of instant information, Plante was told of the honour by a blackjack dealer at a Las Vegas Casino. Plante played all seventy games for the Canadiens that season and put in a league best 2.37 GAA.
Thirty-six years passed before the next Hart Trophy winning goalie. Dominik Hasek won the Hart in 1996-97 and 1997-98, becoming the only goaltender to ever win the award more than once. Hasek’s GAA in the two seasons was 2.27 and 2.09 while playing in 67 and 72 games for the Sabres. During both seasons, Dominik’s save percentage was over .930. Although it should have had no effect on winning the Hart, Hasek led the Czech Republic to Olympic gold in 1998.
Jose Theodore was the last goalie to win the Hart. Jose won the trophy in 2001-02 with the Montreal Canadiens. Theodore played 67 games for Montreal that season and put in great numbers with a 2.11 GAA and a .931 save percentage.