All-Time NHL Shutout Leaders (Goalie)
When you think about it, stopping a moving puck in hockey has to be one of the most difficult jobs in all of sports. Maybe THE most difficult. Not only is that puck coming at you at speeds of over 100 mph, but the guys trying to stuff that thing in the net are skilled offensive players, and in some cases, goal snipers. So it stands to reason that a goaltender who posts a shutout is a very good goaltender. But if they post more than a few, they can easily be considered great. Here is a list of the NHL’s all-time Top 10 in goalie shutouts to date:
Terry Sawchuk (103)—Terry Sawchuk played 21 seasons in the NHL from 1949 to 1970, mostly with the Detroit Red Wings and is the all-time leader in shutouts with 103. But what might be most astonishing about Sawchuk’s career, is that he posted these incredible numbers from 1951 to 1955 (all with the Red Wings) in shutouts: 11, 12, 9, 12, 12. That’s an AVERAGE of 11 shutouts per season, and is an absolutely crazy number. His best season was 1951-52, when Sawchuk went 44-14 with a 1.90 goals against average and career best 12 shutouts. Sadly though, Sawchuk battled depression and alcoholism and passed away in 1970 at the age of 40 following a shoving match with a Rangers’ teammate that caused injuries that led to his untimely death.
Martin Brodeur (101)—Martin Brodeur is one of the game’s all-time great goalies, and he has spent his entire career with the New Jersey Devils, from 1991 until now, and as I write this Brodeur is 36 years old and ranks second in NHL history with 101 shutouts. Brodeur has 555 victories, a stellar 2.21 goals against average, and has led the league in shutouts four times, with four seasons in double digits. Brodeur’s best season was 2006-07 when he had career highs in wins (48) and shutouts (12).
George Hainsworth (94)—George Hainsworth had a relatively brief NHL career, playing for both Montreal and Toronto from 1926 to 1937. But with 94 shutouts in that span, Hainsworth ranks third in league history in that department. Hainsworth had his best season in 1928-29, when in just 44 games he went 22-7 with a microscopic 0.92 goals against average and 22 shutouts. That’s a shutout every other game, a number that was never and probably will never be matched, and it’s also the NHL’s single season record.
Glenn Hall (84)—Glenn Hall played 18 seasons, with stops during his career in Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis from 1952 to 1971. Hall ranks fourth in NHL history with 84 shutouts, and had his best season in 1955-56 with the Red Wings. That year, despite a modest 30-24 record, Hall posted a 2.10 goals against average and career high 12 shutouts.
Jacques Plante (82)—Jacques Plante also played 18 seasons, and had his best years with Montreal in the ‘50’s. Plante ranks fifth in league history with 82 shutouts, and from 1956-59 posted a career high 9 shutouts in each of those seasons. The 82 shutouts does not include the 1 more Plante posted in 1974-75 while playing with the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers.
Alec Connell (81)—Alec Connell played for 12 seasons in the NHL from 1924 to 1937, mostly for the Montreal Canadiens, and ranks tied for sixth in NHL history with 81 shutouts over that time. Connell was nearly impossible to beat early in his career, and between 1925 and 1928 posted 15, 13, and 15 shutouts, respectively. 1925-26 was Connell’s best season, when he won 24 of 36 games, and had career best numbers in goals against average (1.12) and shutouts (15).
Tiny Thompson (81)—Tiny Thompson played from 1928 to 1940, mostly with the Boston Bruins but also with Detroit. Thompson is tied with Connell for sixth in NHL history with 81 shutouts, and he posted four seasons of double digits in that department during his career. In 1928-29, Thompson had career highs in goals against average (1.15) and shutouts (12), but his best overall season was 1929-30, when he posted an incredible 38-5-1 record for the Bruins.
Dominik Hasek (81)—After 16 amazing seasons in the NHL, Dominik Hasek finally retired in 2008 at the age of 43. Hasek played for five teams from 1991 to 2008, most of those with the Buffalo Sabres from 1992 to 2001. Hasek is also tied with Connell and Thompson for sixth all-time in league history with 81 shutouts. Hasek had a career best 13 shutouts in 1997-98 with a 2.09 goals against average, but what might be most incredible is that he had 5 shutouts in his final NHL season at the ripe old age of 43.
Tony Esposito (76)—Tony Esposito began his career in Montreal but only played there one season, in 1968-69. Then he played the following fifteen seasons in Chicago for the Black Hawks. Esposito ranks ninth in NHL history with 76 shutouts, and his best season was 1969-70, when he won 38 games with career best numbers in goals against average (2.17) and shutouts (15, which led the league that season).
Ed Belfour (76)—Ed Belfour was a journeyman goalie who played 17 seasons in the NHL from 1988 to 2007, with Chicago, San Jose, Dallas, Toronto and Florida. Belfour is tied with Esposito for ninth all-time in the league with 76 shutouts. Belfour had a career high 10 shutouts in 2003-04 with Toronto, but his best overall season was with Dallas in 1997-98, with 9 shutouts, as well as 37 wins and a career best 1.88 goals against average.