George Hainsworth

George Hainsworth played brilliantly for 11 seasons in the National Hockey League. No season was more brilliant than the 1928-29 season.

Hainsworth allowed only 43 goals in a 44 game schedule and recorded a remarkable total of 22 shutouts. Amazingly, his team only won 22 games that season. That's right! If Hainsworth did allow a goal, the Montreal Canadiens would not win. They finished with a 22-7-15 record. Hainsworth posted a miniscule 0.92 GAA and captured his third consecutive Vezina Trophy.

He turned professional with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League in 1923-24 and remained with that team until 1926-27, where he was an immediate sensation with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. Replacing the beloved late Georges Vezina, Hainsworth won the Vezina Trophy in his first three seasons with the Canadiens, playing behind such greats as Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat. In a combined 132 consecutive games played, Hainsworth posted a 76-32-24 record and an amazing 49 shutouts. In those three seasons he posted a combined 1.20 GAA.

The 1929-30 season saw rule changes such as forward passing in order to increase offense. Goaltender statistics were the victim, and Hainsworth was not spared. In the new NHL his GAA ballooned to 2.42. He once again led the NHL in shutouts, but this time with only 4.

The only blemish on Hainsworth's record was his lack of success in the playoffs. This changed in the new NHL, as Hainsworth backstopped the Habs to back-to-back championships in 1930 and 1931.

In 1933-34 he was traded to Toronto in exchange for Lorne Chabot. Despite twice leading the league in wins and taking his home town Leafs to the 1935 Stanley Cup finals, Hainsworth never truly found the same success as he had in Montreal. He remained there until 1936 when a young Turk Broda ousted him. After a short comeback stint with Montreal, he retired from the game.

He enjoyed 11 solid seasons in the NHL. Not bad considering he started out as a 31 year old rookie. He retired with a career 1.91 GAA, the lowest in history (shared with Alex Connell). His 94 career shutouts were an NHL record until Terry Sawchuk surpassed him in 1963-64. Although his statistics were greatly aided by the pre-1930 rules, there is no doubt George Hainsworth was one of the greatest goalies of his era.

Despite that status, Hainsworth was almost apologetic for his lackluster style. While some goalies were quite acrobratic, Hainsworth preferred the stand-up style that blocked pucks.

"I'm sorry I can't put on a show like some of the other goaltenders. I can't look excited because I'm not. I can't shout at other players because that's not my style. I can't dive on easy shots and make them look hard. I guess all I can do is stop pucks."

Following his playing days he would go on to become a very popular politician, but died prematurely on Oct. 9, 1950, in an auto accident.


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