As you have probably read, Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard is a candidate for the Calder Trophy, the NHL’s version of the Rookie of the Year Award.
The trophy has been handed out since the 1932-32 season and only 16 goalies have ever won the coveted award. Of the 16 goalies, three were Red Wings two of whom became Hall of Famers: Terry Sawchuk (’50-’51) and Glenn Hall. (’55-’56).
The last Red Wing goalie to win the award was Roger Crozier, an acrobatic netminder who thrilled the crowd at Olympia Stadium.
Although he appeared in fifteen games during the ’63-’64 season as a backup to Sawchuk, Crozier’s Calder Cup winning ‘64-’65 season was nothing short of stellar.
That year, the 22 year old goaltender from Bracebridge, Ontario played in all 70 games while winning a league leading 40 of them as well as leading the NHL in shutouts with six. Keep in mind, this was during the Original Six era, when the talent was loaded from top to bottom as Crozier had to face sharpshooters such as Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Jean Beliveau, Frank Mahovlich, and Dave Keon. (and without a mask!!)
The following season, Crozier again lead the league again in games played and shutouts, and despite being injured for the last two games and losing to Montreal in the Stanley Cup Finals, Crozier won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
With two fabulous back to back seasons, Crozier would have seemed like a guarantee to one day join the Hall of Fame alongside Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall.
However Crozier would never be able to live up to expectations.
He suffered injuries and long bouts of stomach problems in part due to the stress of being an Original Six goalie. His career then began to slide and he was never able to repeat the type of performances he turned in early in his career. In 1970 he was traded to Buffalo and finally retired after the ’76-’77 season after one year with the Washington Capitals.
In December of 1979, Crozier returned to Olympia for one last hurrah playing in an Oldtimers Game that was the last contest played in the Old Red Barn. When his name was announced the crowd erupted in cheers.
Sadly, Roger Crozier passed away at just 53 years of age in 1996 after a battle with prostate cancer.