Red Wings were the first NHL team to carry three goalies

For the time being, the Detroit Red Wings are intent on carrying three netminders. However, Detroit coach Derek Lalonde was quick to point out that the club’s glut of players about to come off IR could cause that situation to suddenly change.

Since claiming Magnus Hellberg on waivers from the Seattle Kraken on November 23, there’s been three goalies occupying spots on Detroit’s 23-player roster. Alex Nedeljkovic, the lone holdover from last season and No. 1 netminder Ville Husso are the others.

When Husso was recently struggling with illness, the Red Wings were opting to give successive starts to Hellberg.

“We were fortunate to have three goalies with Ville being unavailable for a week,” Lalonde said.

He’s seen action in four games since arriving from the Kraken. Hellberg is 2-2 with a 2.74 GAA and .897 save percentage.

Husso is carrying the load between the pipes for Detroit. He’s 12-6-5 with a 2.86 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Nedeljkovic is enduring his struggles during his sophomore campaign with the Red Wings. He’s showing a 2-4-2 record in nine appearances, along with a 4.02 GAA and .880 save percentage. His last game action came on December 8. Nedeljkovic has earned a win since November 6.

Those numbers led to speculation that Nedeljkovic could be on his way out, or at the very least, on his way to the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins on a conditioning assignment. But Lalonde is insisting that it is not currently part of the team’s plan.

“Alex is still in the mix,” Lalonde said. “I know it doesn’t feel like that. He hasn’t played in a long time.

“I still think for the time being . . . I would expect us to keep three goalies for a little bit, at least on the roster.”

Red Wings Were First To Experiment With Three-Goalie System

Terry Sawchuk in 1968-69

The long-held theory in hockey is that three goalies on the roster is one too many. There are, after all, only two nets available for practice.

“It’s been unique on everyone, having a three-goalie system, with practice, travel, who’s backing up,” Lalonde admitted.

The first team in NHL history to test the validity of this theory was in fact, the Red Wings. Detroit carried three goalies on the roster for the entire 1968-69 season. The Wings were the first NHL team to do so.

Roger Crozier and Roy Edwards were the holdovers from the 1967-68 campaign. On October 10, 1968, just prior to the start of the season, Detroit moved to acquire legendary Red Wings goalie Terry Sawchuk from the Los Angeles Kings for a third tour of duty with the team.

Both Crozier and Edwards were nervous sorts. The thinking of GM Sid Abel was that the veteran presence of Sawchuk, 39, could help both netminders in a sort of mentor’s role.

“Roger seems more relaxed on and off the ice with Terry around,” Red Wings coach Bill Gadsby noted early in the 1968-69 season.

Edwards saw the bulk of the action, playing 40 games. He was 18-11-6 with a 2.55 GAA and .915 save percentage. Playing 26 games, Crozier went 11-15-3 while posting a 3.33 GAA and .896 save percentage. Seeing action in 13 games, Sawchuk when 4-5-3 while putting up a 2.63 GAA and .912 save percentage.

Welcome to your new home for Detroit Red Wings breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to DHN+ for all of our members-only content from Kevin Allen, Bob Duff and the National Hockey Now network.

Leave a Comment