6'3" / 210 lbs.
As a Penguin (Nov. 1988 - Mar. 2000): 460 GP - 226 wins, 153 losses, 53 ties - 3.27 GAA, .896 save pct., 22 shutouts - playoffs: 101 GP - 56 wins, 42 losses - 2.91 GAA, .907 save pct., 6 shutouts
In Penguins history: 1st in GP, t-1st in wins, 6th in GAA, 5th in save pct., t-1st in shutouts
10 full seasons + 2 partial season = 12 seasons
2x Stanley Cup Champion (1991, 1992)
Vezina: 2nd, 3rd, t-7th*
All-Star Team: 2nd, 4th
* - one vote
---Goaltending stats vs. the league:
[top-12 finishes only]
1988-89: N/A for wins, GAA, save pct., shutouts
1989-90: Did not meet GP requirement
1990-91: 5th in wins, 10th in save pct., t-12th in shutouts
1991-92: t-10th in wins
1992-93: 1st in wins
, 3rd in GAA, 4th in save pct., t-3rd in shutouts
1993-94: N/A for wins, GAA, save pct., shutouts
1994-95: Did not meet GP requirement
1995-96: t-9th in wins
1996-97: Did not meet GP requirement
1997-98: t-6th in wins, 3rd in GAA, 2nd in save pct., 6th in shutouts
1998-99: N/A for wins, GAA, save pct., shutouts
1999-00: Did not meet GP requirement
---Goaltending stats vs. backups
(note: "pts/gm" figure is measured by "gm = mins/60 - not tradition "GP" figure)
1988-89: 44 GP: 1.07 pts/gm, 4.04 GAA, .888 save pct., 0 shutouts
Backups (3): 49 GP: 1.09 pts/gm, 4.50 GAA, .871 save pct., 0 shutouts
1989-90: 24 GP: 0.79 pts/gm, 4.68 GAA, .865 save pct., 0 shutouts
Others (2): 67 GP: 0.93 pts/gm, 4.26 GAA, .870 save pct., 1 shutout
1990-91: 48 GP: 1.24 pts/gm, 3.59 GAA, .896 save pct., 1 shutout
Backups (2): 43 GP: 0.89 pts/gm, 3.97 GAA, .879 save pct., 0 shutouts
1991-92: 57 GP: 1.06 pts/gm, 3.53 GAA, .885 save pct., 1 shutout
Backups (3): 32 GP: 1.11 pts/gm, 4.13 GAA, .871 save pct., 0 shutouts
1992-93: 63 GP: 1.48 pts/gm, 3.01 GAA, .901 save pct., 4 shutouts
Backup: 25 GP: 1.23 pts/gm, 3.42 GAA, .887 save pct., 0 shutouts
1993-94: 44 GP: 1.19 pts/gm, 3.36 GAA, .893 save pct., 2 shutouts
Backup: 46 GP: 1.19 pts/gm, 3.29 GAA, .895 save pct., 1 shutout
1994-95: N/A - 2 games
1995-96: 49 GP: 1.29 pts/gm, 3.43 GAA, .902 save pct., 2 shutouts
Backup: 37 GP: 1.18 pts/gm, 3.24 GAA, .905 save pct., 3 shutouts
1996-97: N/A - 5 games
1997-98: 63 GP: 1.27 pts/gm, 2.07 GAA, .922 save pct., 7 shutouts
Backups (2): 32 GP: 0.94 pts/gm, 2.22 GAA, .915 save pct., 0 shutouts
1998-99: 43 GP: 1.07 pts/gm, 2.55 GAA, .901 save pct., 4 shutouts
Backups (2): 54 GP: 1.10 pts/gm, 2.63 GAA, .896 save pct., 5 shutouts
1999-00: 18 GP: 0.83 pts/gm, 3.17 GAA, .881 save pct., 1 shutout
Others (3): 78 GP: 1.03 pts/gm, 2.69 GAA, .863 save pct., 3 shutouts
In conjunction with coaching changes, usually necessitated by the loss of Mario Lemieux for various reasons, Barrasso responded very well to defensive minded teams (oh really?). In 1992-93, when Lemieux wasn't around for a good stretch, the team tightened up tremendously and Barrasso had a terrific year. In 1998, when Lemieux retired, the team hired drill sargeant Kevin Constantine to bring some defense to the table for the team. Once again, Barrasso was off the charts. In those situations also, it's important to note, that Barrasso got the lion's share of games. Given Barrasso's personality, he probably didn't want a backup goalie at all. And when he was in command of his crease, his play improved. So it's a chicken or the egg conundrum with Barrasso: did he play better to get more games? Or did he play better because he got more games? It doesn't help the mystery that the '93 and '98 Pens were two of the times in the Barrasso era where the Penguins weren't fun n' gun the entire season basically. So, add that to the equation. Did Barrasso's numbers go up because he played more or because the team played better defense?
It is important to note that Barrasso made the transition between eras. Something Fleury and Binkley did not have to do necessarily. Barrasso did his major development and early NHL work in the 80's - a time when goaltending had not kept up with the rest of the league. Historically speaking, there are not many top-50 goalies in history that played in the 80's...less than any other time in noted history it seems. And that's not a statistical claim, it's based on contemporary observation. Many of these goalies from the time struggled to make the transition from firewagon hockey (dead: ~1993) to the more structured, positionally-based goaltending of the mid and late 90's. Barrasso succeeded in transitioning and adaptation. Conversely, he failed to do it consistently and failed to make meaningful playoff in-roads after the era died.
His backups were of NHL quality and one of his consistent tandem mates is among the best backups in the league at the time I do believe. That's a product of Scotty Bowman (via Toe Blake), who was a terrific goalie manager - a trait he passed on to his disciples. Tangental point on that, briefly, here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=59087&p=2217369#p2217369
Legends of Hockey wrote:Pittsburgh's powerful offense needed some defensive help and having Barrasso in the crease was a major piece of the championship puzzle for the Penguins. In 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup, due in large part to Barrasso's outstanding play in the net. ||| During the 1996 playoffs there were flashes of the old brilliance and in particular in the Penguins' series against the Florida Panthers. Barrasso later became the first American born goalie to win 300 career NHL games.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - May 25, 1991 wrote:Barrasso's stellar, often spectacular goaltending has been a key ingredient in the Penguins' drive to the Cup... ||| Here's something that you hear a lot: "Yeah, the Penguins won, 3-2, but they would have lost, 8-3, if not for Barrasso in goal."
New York Times - May 25, 1991 wrote:Tom Barrasso has been of Pittsburgh's better players.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - May 27, 1991 wrote:Barrasso played Game 6 against the Minnesota North Stars Saturday night as if it were his last game. He took one for the team - a shot of pain-killer to the groin - then stood up to the North Stars' Neal Broten, who ran him in the opening seconds, stood up to 39 shots, stood up to his critics who long tormented him by saying he can't win the big games.
For a guy who was a questionable starter - the missed the final two periods of Game 5 Thursday night with a pulled groin muscle - Barrasso was at the top of the Penguins' long list of heroes in their 8-0 Cup-clinching victory.
The shutout, the first in the finals since 1986, was fairly indicative of Barrasso's play in the postseason. He finishes with a 12-7 record and had the best goals-against average (2.60) and save percentage (.919) of the playoff goaltenders. He easily could have won the Conn Smythe MVP award if Mario Lemieux had not played so spectacularly in the final three games against Minnesota.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Jun. 3, 1992 wrote:He already had one "Connie Smythe," as he called it, in his trophy case at home. He felt that Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso might have been a better choice this year for the award given to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs. "I thought it was Tommy all the way,'' Lemieux said. "He was superb the last three games of the Washington series, when we came back from a 3-1 deficit. "He played unbelievable when we swept Boston. This should have gone to him, that's for sure."
Barrasso, 27, finished a distant second in the MVP voting, but he said he didn't feel the least bit slighted.
Editor's note: Never has Conn Smythe Trophy voting been released to my knowledge and I can't think of a time where it was mentioned so specifically before. And I do a fair amount of historical research...
New York Times - Jan. 15, 1993 wrote:Barrasso, 27 years old, has been a key player on the Penguins' successive Stanley Cup championship teams.
New York Times - Apr. 27, 1995 wrote:Barrasso made his first appearance in almost a year. ... He looked his sharpest in the seventh minute of the middle period when he sprawled to his right to stop Stephane Richer and denied MacLean's backhander from the slot a few seconds later.
"Tommy played well and he will probably play again on Sunday," Coach XX XXXXXXXX said of Barrasso. "He made the saves he had to when we needed it." While Barrasso was sharp, the Devils' goaltending was average.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - May 21, 1996 wrote:It's easy to say now it was the right move. Tom Barrasso looked for a long time as if he might throw a perfect game against the Florida Panthers last night before settling for a beautiful two-hitter. Of course, it was the right move to start him instead of XXX XXXXXXX. ...[the coach] had no clue how Barrasso would play in his first start in 26 days.
"...I've been around goaltenders long enough to know when they're sharp. This guy was sharp. We also needed to get him in there because of the way Florida plays. They like to dump the puck in. Tommy controls the puck very well. We just thought he would give us a better chance to get it out." [Coach]
It shouldn't have been such a surpise. Barrasso is a big-time goaltender.
It's funny, much had been made by the media and fans before the game game of his 3-9 record in his previous 12 playoff decisions. It was as if he was completely responsible for those defeats. But that's just revisionist history. When was Barrasso so bad in the playoffs? In '93 against the New York Islanders? Maybe he wasn't right in Game 6 and 7 but it says here the Penguins would have won that series if Mario Lemieux hadn't had a bad back or Kevin Stevens hadn't gone down early in game 7. Did Barrasso stink against Washington in '94? The Capitals scored three or fewer goals in four of those six games. Last spring against Washington? Yeah, he was terrible in his one start but he never should have played. He missed all but two regular season games after wrist surgery. How about this spring against Washington? I thought Barrasso played well in the 6-4 loss in game 1, strange as that might sound. He was bad in Game 2 but came back to win Game 3, 4-1, "by himself," to quote [coach].
No offense to XXXXXXX, but Barrasso is the better goaltender. There is a reason he makes $2.5 million and has two Stanley Cup rings.
Beaver County Times - Mar. 15, 2000 wrote:In his own way, Barrasso was a hockey version of Barry Bonds, a gifted player who seemed to havee a compulsion to make people not like him. Barrasso was everything his advance billing said he could be: arrogant, difficult, intelligent, and very talented. He was just 23 when the Penguins were able to get him because he'd worn out his welcome in Buffalo.
The Pittsburgh Press - Mar. 31, 1989 wrote:Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso was subjected to 48 shots, roughly two of which did not constitute a serious scoring threat.||| ...the Penguins allowed the Whalers to pepper goalie Tom Barrasso with 48 shots and pester him with enough three-on-two break to fill a 90-minute practice session...
The Pittsburgh Press - Nov. 7, 1990 wrote:One guy Calgary couldn't beat very often was goalie Tom Barrasso, who began the game as XXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX's backup and left it as the No. 3 star after stopping 26 of 27 shots in the final two periods. The words "Barrasso" and "backup" rarely appear in the same paragraph, but XXXXXXXXXX's strong play this season earned him a tenuous grip on the No. 1 job. Barrasso has head the locker-room whispers that he might be traded, but they don't appear to bother him.
LCS Hockey Guide - Jul. 15, 1994 wrote:He has to find a way to replace an aging defensive corp to help out Tom Barrasso (who had an excellent playoff series) in net and create a balanced offense that can be more efficient in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Nov. 14, 1988 wrote:"...you have to give quality if you want to get quality." [Tony Esposito on the trade]. Still, if Barrasso pans out and the Penguins' goaltending situation is set for the next decade, te steep price tag will have been worth it.
Despite his reputation for arrogance and disruption, Barrasso is widely recognized as a top-flight talent. ...But Barrasso has been criticized for, among other things, an unwillingness to accept criticism. And he was reportedly upset this season when Daren Puppa beat him out as the Sabres' No. 1 goaltender. "I won't deny that that wasn't a problem and a factor," Buffalo GM Gerry Meehan told reporters.
But Esposito, a Hall of Famer who was hired as GM in April...said he prefers Barrasso to Moog. "That's not a very fair question," he told a reporter, "but I rate Barrasso a better goalie. Moog was a backup. I was after a bona fide No. 1 goaltender. I think he's the man."
The Pittsburgh Press - Nov. 13, 1988 wrote:Even Barrasso's critics acknowledge he is one of the finest goalies in the NHL, despite his history of mediocre playoff performances.
On the Penguins more defensive game that I referenced above...
The Vindicator - Dec. 2, 1997 wrote:Left off the U.S. Olympic Team, Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso took out his frustrations on the Montreal Canadiens. "...Tom's one of the best U.S. goalies. I don't know why he wasn't picked." [coach XXXXX XXXXXXXXXX]
Good defense: The Penguins, once an offensive juggernautled by Mario Lemieux, have focused their attention on playing tight defense since Lemieux's retirement following last season. Just ask the Canadiens. "They're a club that's really improved defensively," Montreal center Vincent Damphousse said. "They scored that goal in the third period, then they shut us down." - "They're playing better as a team and their coaching staff has them playing better defensively," Canadiens forward Shayne Corson said. "They're playing good hockey and they're a tough team right now."
"Now, we play defense, we play trap and it's tough to beat. We don't have the talent anymore..." [Jagr]
Observer Reporter - Feb. 12, 1993 wrote:Headline: Penguins Discover Defensive Rhythm - Haven't allowed a goal in 140 minutes.
Will the Penguins ever allow another goal? Defenseman Larry Murphy just laughed but the rest of the National Hockey League probably finds little humor in Pittsburgh's recent defensive play. Shifting gears without Mario Lemieux in the lineup, the Penguins have become the NHL's fourth-best defensive team after delivering back-to-back shutouts of Boston and New York - a franchise first.
"Everybody realizes without Mario that we're not going to score as much. The only way we can continue to win is if we cut down our goals against," says Murphy. "Everybody's made a conscious effort to improve in that area."
With Lemieux in the lineup over the first 41 games of the season, the Penguins allowed an average of 31.4 shots and 3.36 goals per agme. In 14 games without their captain, the guy who makes their incomparable run-and-gun game go, the Penguins are allowing an average of 28.9 shots and 2.71 goals per game. And they are 8-5-1.
This is precisely the kind of game coach XXXXXX XXXXXX had in mind when Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. "We've really shut down a lot of teams, some pretty good teams, too," XXXXXX said Thursday. "The goaltending has been outstanding. We have our defense intact, and we've been able to go with more players up front."
The forwards, meanwhile, have not balked at accepting more defensive responsibility, a fact that was plainly evident in the past two games. It isn't easy to play a tighter game, but the Penguins aren't looking for the easy way out.