Remembering Red Wings Goalie Roger Crozier

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.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Roger Crozier guards the net on October 25, 1965.

4 replies on “Remembering Red Wings Goalie Roger Crozier

  • Mark Beausoleil

    I was a goalie for 18 years. I met Roger and Terry on the same day, after one of my games at the Olympia. They were playing the Black Hawks a couple hours later. They said I looked like a “Little Roger” out there. I was very acrobatic like Roger. I went to the blue line many times also. Anyways,those two were my idols. They both gave me their sticks, each signed both of them. My 2 prized posessions. I got my own stick signed by most of the wings in the 60s, early seventies and especially Gordie Howe’s and Steve Yzerman’s later. But Roger Crozier will always be the most exciting goalie I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and watching. I was at his last game in the “Old Timers” game in “79”. I cried when he left the ice. Anyone who loves goalies, thanks. We’re an odd breed.

  • Mike Matheson

    It should be noted that Crozier’s second year in Buffalo was every bit as great as his first in Detroit. He also played in the Stanley Cup finals with two different teams. Glenn Hall invented the “Butterfly” style of goaltending, but it was Crozier who was the first to employ the modern butterfly (followed by Tony Esposito.) After that, the style fell out of favour until Patrick Roy brought it back, but Crozier was the innovator.

  • kevin schofield

    i loved roger crozier i remember when he was playing in goal for the buffalo sabres on wednesday november 18th 1970 when the sabres shocked the maple leafs 7-2 and the crowd at maple leaf gardens were chanting go punch go[ punch imlach] roger crozier was a standup goaltender.kevin schofield

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