Detroit Red Wings: Do These 3 Goalies Deserve To Be Booed?


It’s tough being a goalie, you’re the last line of defence. It takes a certain mentality to put your body in front of a puck flying at you at up to 100 mph. Not only that but how you paint your helmet is a big deal and you got more padding than most Martin Lawrence movies. When you get it wrong, that 200′ stretch of ice is a cold, lonely place.

All that aside, when you get it right, you can be considered one of the most valuable members of your team. Where would the Canadiens be without Carey Price? Maybe you’re a rock-star restaurateur like Henrik Lundqvist, or you’re an outspoken Twitter personality like Roberto Luongo. Whatever, chances are if you’re on this list, you’re none of the above.

Curtis Joseph

Curtis Joseph playing against Detroit in the 2013 Alumni game. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

If there was ever a story of ‘right player – wrong team’ then Curtis Joseph is it. Joseph holds the dubious record of having the most career wins of any goalie never to play on a Stanley Cup winning team. He came to Detroit by way of the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. The move between original six rivals winning no friends either side of the border.

Joseph wasn’t a bad goalie, although he wasn’t worth the $8million contract he was offered. After a shaky start, he stepped up and became a decent regular season goalie. Unfortunately the Red Wings were unceremoniously dumped out of the 2002/03 playoffs in a first round clean sweep by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Especially after winning the cup the season before. Many fingers were pointed in the direction of Joseph.

The 2003/04 season wasn’t much better. Despite topping the table in the regular season, the Wings were knocked out in the second round by eventual runners-up Calgary. Again Joseph’s ability to perform in the playoffs was called into question and the team decided enough was enough.

Tim Cheveldae

Some goalies get good numbers not by being unstoppable between the pipes, but by having a great team in front of them. Tim Chevelae was one of those goalies. His NHL numbers are reasonable (149-136-47) but with Yzerman out in front of you, most goalies could post numbers like that.

Drafted by the Red Wings in ’86, Cheveldae played well in the AHL and secured his place on the big team through a combination of good stats and a career ending injury to Greg Stefan.

Unfortunately, much like Curtis Joseph, Cheveldae’s prowess in the regular season did not translate over to the playoffs, and when Chris Osgood stepped up in the 1993-94 season, the writing was on the wall for Cheveldae who was traded to the Winnipeg Jets.

Jim Rutherford

Between 1970 and 1983, The current Pittsburgh Penguins GM spent 10 seasons between the pipes in Detroit. All of them dire. His career totals with Detroit were 97-165-43. He conceded 1114 goals and had a GAA of 3.69.

The 70s and 80s were bleak not only for Rutherford, but also for the rest of the team as the Detroit Red Wings went through a long slump. Lord Stanley’s cup hadn’t been lifted since 1955 and many had written the team off.

The curse of being a professional sportsman is being constantly evaluated by those vastly less skilled but equally as passionate. Failing to stop a goal when your team is already 5-0 up is one thing, but knowing that the goal that costs you silverware might one day slip through your pads, and still go out every night and play takes a big set of proverbials. It takes a special kind of crazy to step up and join that elite brotherhood of goalies.

Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings /

Detroit Red Wings

Sure Joseph, Cheveldae and Rutherford had more bad days at the office than others, but none of them were there by accident. In pro sports, there’s always another guy waiting for you to slip up so he can take your prized spot on the roster.

Curtis Joseph was in no way a bad goalie, it takes 20 guys to lose a game, not one. The Detroit Red Wings have had some spectacular goalies that us fans have loved supporting. Unfortunately they retire or move on leaving big skates to fill.

Many bad results are as much a result of a bad decision made in the front office as well as behind the bench. Red Wings fans, and I include myself in that, had big expectations of Joseph, especially given how much we were paying him. Those expectations can be hard to live up to. Unfortunately Joseph was hard to shift when Dominik Hasek returned due to his large salary (sound familiar Vancouver?).

Tim Chevaldae suffered a similar fate, sometimes the pressure is too much in the big games, and being trusted to wear the fabled winged wheel brings a truckload of pressure. Chevaldae put up good numbers in the AHL, so there was no reason not to play him. Given that he played net for the big team for five seasons (ish), he did pretty well.

Jim Rutherford was a poor goalie playing net for a poor team. His numbers are terrifyingly bad, but the blame for that has to be pointed squarely at the management.

We’ve be spoiled in the past few decades by watching Hasek, Chris Osgood and even Jimmy Howard perform amazing feats to stop pucks hitting twine, unfortunately even the best prospects don’t always hit the expectations set on them by fans loyal to the cause.

Next: Profiling the enemy; Boston Bruins

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