Frank "Mr. Zero" Brimsek is my favorite NHL player that I never actually saw play. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 85. May he Rest In Peace.
The first American to get inducted to the NHL Hall of Fame, Brimsek started his rookie season by getting 6 shutouts in 8 games and then immediately backstopped the Bruins to two Stanley Cups, in 1939 and 1941. When the United States entered WWII, he joined the Coast Guard. He played for the USCG Cutters, who added him to their FAQs.
After the war, Brimsek wasn't nearly the goalie he was before. Then again, let's see you go through war and come back the same.
Minnesota has a "Frank Brimsek Award" for the best high school hockey goalies. He made the Sports Illustrated All-Time American All-Star team, and is the only player on the list who didn't play in the 80s. He also made it onto their list of the top-20 American-born, american-developed hockey players. And he did it all looking like this:
Here's some spots to learn more about Mr. Zero around the web:
- Wikipedia: Points out that the Bruins haven't retired the number 1, despite both Tiny Thompson and Frank Brimsek wearing it well throughout the early history of the Bruins. Perhaps this would have been different were Frank or Tiny still alive today.
- The Hockey Hall of Fame: "Brimsek was a classic standup goalie whose confidence on the ice threw off many a shooter. On breakaways and penalty shots he would often lean back calmly against his net as the foe approached. But he was not a passive figure while guarding his cage - Brimsek used his custom-made heavy stick to knock the puck off opposition sticks or to take the feet out from under someone who took too many liberties around his goal."
- He's buried in Calvary Cemetary, in Minnesota.
- Joe Pelletier: The Hockey History Blogger does his thing.
- HockeyGoalies.org: "The kid had the fastest hands I ever saw - like lightning." (Art Ross, Boston Bruins, 1938)