Roger Crozier during his tenure with the Buffalo Sabres
March 16, 1942|
Bracebridge, ON, CAN
|Died||January 11, 1996
Wilmington, DE, USA
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|Weight||160 lb (73 kg; 11 st 6 lb)|
|Played for||Detroit Red Wings
Roger Allan Crozier (March 16, 1942 in Bracebridge, Ontario – January 11, 1996 in Wilmington, Delaware) was a Canadian professional hockey goaltender who played fourteen seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals. During his career Crozier was named to NHL First All-Star Team once, won the Calder Memorial Trophy and was the first player ever to win the Conn Smythe Trophy while playing on the losing team.
Throughout his career, Crozier had a recurring ulcer problem that troubled him for the rest of his life. Despite these problems, Crozier was the starting goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings and the Buffalo Sabres and played in over 500 regular season games in the NHL. Crozier played in two Stanley Cup Finals (1965-66 and in 1974-75) but was on the losing end both times. His ulcer problems would lead to his retirement in 1976-77. The Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame posthumously inducted Crozier in 2009, and in 2000 the NHL unveiled a new trophy called the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award. It is awarded annually to the goaltender who records the best save percentage during the regular season.
Playing career 
Early career 
Crozier was identified as a special goaltending talent at an early age. He was recruited by his town's senior hockey team to be the starting goaltender at age 14.
Crozier spent his junior career playing for the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1959 to 1962. The Teepees were owned by the Chicago Black Hawks thanks to the NHL sponsorship system, which earned them the rights to all of the team's players. In 1959–60, Crozier helped his team win the Memorial Cup. It was also during his tenure with the Teepees, that Crozier began to develop his first ulcer, a problem that would constantly plague him during the rest of his career.
During the 1960–61 season, Crozier spent the majority of his time in the OHA. At one point in the American Hockey League season, the Buffalo Bisons's starting goaltender, Denis DeJordy was injured. A replacement goaltender was needed so the Bisons asked for Crozier to fill in for the injured DeJordy. Making his professional debut, he appeared in three games, recording two wins and a 2.31 GAA.
Detroit Red Wings (1963–70) 
The Chicago Black Hawks traded Crozier to the Detroit Red Wings in 1963. The young goaltender, turned full-time pro, again spent the season in the minors with the St. Louis Braves in the EPHL and the Buffalo Bisons in the AHL, though the majority of his time was spent in St. Louis as he suited up in 70 games for them. In 1963–64, he played 44 games with the Pittsburgh Hornets, Detroit's AHL affiliate. During his first game with the Hornets, Crozier, maskless, was hit in the face by a slapshot from Frank Mahovlich. Crozier's cheekbone was fractured, but he remained in the game and helped his team to a 1-1 tie. At the end of the season, Crozier earned numerous accolades, which included the Hap Holmes Memorial Award (fewest goals against), the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award (top rookie) and a spot on the Second All-Star Team. Also, during the 1963–64 NHL season, star goaltender Terry Sawchuk was injured, and like the previous time with the Bisons, Crozier was called up to replace. Crozier played in 15 games, and in those 15 games, he convinced Red Wings management that he was the next to be. During the off-season, Sawchuk was let go, making Crozier the Red Wings starting goaltender at the age of 22.
In his rookie season, Crozier debuted in all of his team's games, leading the league with 40 wins and six shutouts and his 2.42 GAA was the second lowest in the league. Crozier would be the last NHL goaltender to start all of his team's games during the regular season. At season's end, Crozier was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie and he was also named to the NHL First All-Star Team. Following his rookie season, Crozier missed the team's first six games due to pancreatitis. He would return and play the team's remaining 64 games, posting 27 wins and leading the league with seven shutouts, while also helping the Red Wings clinch a spot in the playoffs. Benefitting from Crozier's strong play in the postseason, the Red Wings made it deep in the playoffs. After eliminating the Chicago Black Hawks, the Red Wings squared off against the Montreal Canadiens in the 1966 Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings won the first two games, but Montreal came back and won the next four to win the Stanley Cup. Even though Detroit lost the Stanley Cup, Crozier was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoffs MVP), becoming the first goaltender to win the award and also the first player to win it in a losing effort.
Plagued from his pancreatitis sickness, Crozier was forced to play in only 58 of the Red Wings games in 1966–67. His numbers were down as he won only 22 games and recorded a 3.35 GAA. The Red Wings would also miss the playoffs. After another bout of pancreatits in the beginning of the 1967–68 season, Crozier announced his retirement. His announcement was short-lived however, as after six weeks, he returned to hockey, playing five games with the Fort Worth Wings in the CPHL as conditioning before returning with the Red Wings. Crozier would spend two more seasons on a mediocre Wings team before being traded to the newly formed Buffalo Sabres in 1970.
Buffalo Sabres (1970–76) 
In the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft, Buffalo Sabres General Manager "Punch" Imlach drafted Tom Webster from Boston and promptly dealt him to Detroit for Crozier. Crozier started the Sabres' first NHL game on October 10, 1970 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Crozier turned away 35 of 36 shots to earn the franchise's first victory, 2-1. On December 6, 1970, Crozier earned the franchise's first shutout in a 1-0 win over the Minnesota North Stars. By late December however, Crozier was deeply exhausted and the majority of the workload was put on goalies Joe Daley and Dave Dryden. Crozier would finish the season with a 9-20-7 record and a 3.68 GAA. The Sabres also missed the playoffs finishing 5th in the East Division. Adding to Crozier's continuing stomach problems, his gallbladder was removed during the off-season.
The 1971–72 season was even worse for the Sabres as they finished with the least wins in the entire league with 16 only. Crozier posted a 13-34-14 record and a 3.51 GAA. He also faced 2,190 shots during the entire season, which is still the team's record for shots faced by a goalie in a single season. The 1972–73 season looked much better as the Sabres made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Playing 49 games, Crozier had his first winning record with the Sabres and posted a much improved 2.76 GAA down from last season's 3.51. In the first round they were matched up against the Montreal Canadiens. Crozier played four games and won two, but they were ultimately dispatched in six games.
Facing continuing problems with his pancreatitis and the new additions of ulcers and gallbladder problems, Crozier would see his playing time greatly reduced. In 1974–75, Crozier posted 17 wins and two losses, helping the Sabres rank 1st in the Adams Division. During the playoffs, Crozier played five games including two in the Stanley Cup Finals. After eliminating the Chicago Black Hawks and the Montreal Canadiens, the Sabres earned a matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 3 of the Finals in Buffalo was known as the infamous "Fog Game". A heat wave in May hit the arena and with no air conditioning inside, the temperature skyrocketed. Fog started to develop and soon visibility was dramatically decreased. Gerry Desjardins was the starting goaltender but after allowing three goals in the first period, he was replaced by Crozier. Crozier allowed only one goal in regulation and the score was tied 4-4 in regulation. In overtime, Rene Robert scored for the Sabres to win the game. The series went to a game six with the Sabres trailing the series 3-2. Crozier was allowed to start and he denied the Flyers of any scoring after two periods. The third period saw the Flyers score the two only goals in the game, and with that the Flyers won the Stanley Cup. For the second time, Crozier was denied a Stanley Cup championship.
In 1975–76, Crozier participated in only 11 games due to his persisting ailments, leaving the starting job to Gerry Desjardins. Due to his continuous illness, the Sabres traded him to the Washington Capitals in exchange for cash on March 3, 1977. He would play only three games with the Capitals before retiring after 14 seasons in the NHL.
After retiring, Crozier served in the Capitals' front officeand eventually became interim general manager during the 1981–82 season after Max McNab was relieved of his duties. He was also the head coach of the Capitals for one game during the season. Under his watch, the Capitals would pick defenceman Scott Stevens during the 1982 NHL Entry Draft.
After leaving the Capitals organization in 1983, he moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where he rose to the level of executive vice president and facilities manager of Worldwide Facilities and Construction at MBNA Bank. Crozier opened and operated the Roger Crozier Enterprises Hockey School in Barrie, Ontario from 1983 to 1993 in order to teach young kids about the game.
Roger Crozier died after a battle with cancer on January 11, 1996, aged 53. In 2000, the NHL unveiled the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award given annually to the goaltender who posts the best save percentage in each season. The award is co-sponsored by Crozier's last employer, MBNA. In 2009, he was posthumously inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Awards and achievements 
- Selected to the OHA-Jr. First All-Star Team in 1960, 1961, 1962.
- Memorial Cup champion in 1960.
- Named to the AHL Second All-Star Team in 1964.
- Winner of the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award (AHL Fewest goals against) in 1964.
- Winner of the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award (AHL Top Rookie) in 1964.
- Winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy (NHL Rookie of the Year) in 1965.
- Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1965.
- Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy (NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP) in 1966.
- Inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Career statistics 
Regular season 
|1959–60||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||48||25||19||4||2880||191||1||3.98||—|
|1960–61||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||48||18||24||6||2880||204||0||4.25||—|
|1961–62||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||45||—||—||—||2670||174||1||3.91||—|
|1961–62||Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds||EPHL||3||0||1||2||180||12||0||4.00||—|
|1962–63||St. Louis Braves||EPHL||70||26||35||9||4200||299||1||4.27||—|
|1963–64||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||15||5||6||4||900||51||2||3.40||.900|
|1964–65||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||70||40||22||7||4168||168||6||2.42||.913|
|1965–66||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||64||27||24||12||3734||173||7||2.78||.904|
|1966–67||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||58||22||29||4||3256||182||4||3.35||.895|
|1967–68||Fort Worth Wings||CPHL||5||3||1||0||265||12||0||2.49||.909|
|1967–68||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||34||9||18||2||1729||95||1||3.30||—|
|1968–69||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||38||12||16||3||1820||101||0||3.33||—|
|1969–70||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||34||16||6||9||1877||83||0||2.65||.920|
|1959–60||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||17||—||—||—||1020||52||0||3.06|
|1959–60||St. Catharines Teepees||M-Cup||14||8||5||1||850||58||0||4.09|
|1960–61||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||6||—||—||—||360||21||0||3.50|
|1961–62||St. Catharines Teepees||OHA||6||—||—||—||360||19||0||3.17|
|1963–64||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||3||0||2||—||126||5||0||2.38|
|1964–65||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||7||3||4||—||420||23||0||3.29|
|1965–66||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||12||6||5||—||668||26||1||2.34|
|1969–70||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||1||0||1||—||34||3||0||5.29|
See also 
- Roger Crozier, Daredevil Goalie, T. Cohen, 1967
- "Hawks' farm clubs pay off". The Montreal Gazette. 1959-02-24. p. 20. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Memorial Cup winners". Ottawa Citizen. 1986-05-20. p. 61. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Wings' goalie Crozier retires because of hockey's "torture"". Ottawa Citizen. 1967-10-07. p. 8. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- "Roger Crozier". sabreslegends.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "Roger Crozier". NHL.com. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- "Roger Crozier". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- "Roger Crozier". Joe Pelletier. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "1 Roger Crozier". goaliesarchive.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "1965–66 Stanley Cup winner". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- "1965–66 Conn Smythe Trophy winner". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- "Despondent Crozier quits Red Wings". The Pittsburgh Press. 1967-11-07. p. 24. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Crozier returns, but Wings bow". The Morning Record. 1968-01-22. p. 5. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Detroit deals Crozier in hockey's Expansion Draft". Lundington Daily News. 1970-07-11. p. 3. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- "Roger Crozier". Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- "1970-71 NHL season summary". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "Crozier shuts out Canucks". The Windsor Star. 1972-01-20. p. 85. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "1971–72 NHL season summary". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "Playoff breakthrough for Sabres". Ottawa Citizen. 1973-04-02. p. 14. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
- "1974–75 NHL season summary". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- "Flyers, Sabres hope fog, bats float off". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 1975-05-22. p. 19. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- >"1975 NHL Playoffs Summary". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- "Washington Capitals coaches". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Marty Turco receives MBNA/Mastercard Canada Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award". Mastercard. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- "Roger Crozier, 53, a hockey goaltender". The New York Times. 1996-01-12. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
- "Canadiens' Cristobal Huet to receive MBNA Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award". NHL.com. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
|Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
|Winner of the Calder Trophy
|Interim General Manager of the Washington Capitals
|Interim Head coach of the Washington Capitals