Prior to the lockout, the last goalie over the age of 40 to play in the NHL was Tony Esposito (h/t, Elias Sports Bureau). The Hall of Famer with the Chicago Blackhawks played 18 games as a 40-year-old in his final season in 1983-84. Net-minding legends Glenn Hall and Terry Sawchuk played until they were 40, Jacques Plante to the age of 43, but Tony Espo was it for a long time.
However, since the work stoppage in 2004-05, at least one goalie over the age of 40 has played in each season.
2005-06: Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour
2006-07: Hasek, Belfour
2007-08: Sean Burke, Curtis Joseph, Hasek
2009-10: Dwayne Roloson
Of the group, Hasek had the best single season -- playing at age 42 to a 38-11-6 record, 2.05 GAA and .923 save percentage for the Red Wings. This season, Roloson is doing more than just carry the torch for 40-year-olds. He is the clear-cut No. 1 goaltender for the New York Islanders and is signed through next season.
FanHouse spoke with Hockey Night in Canada commentator Glenn Healy for his take on why we may be in a new silver-haired era of goaltending. The former goalie with Los Angeles, both New York teams and Toronto retired from the crease in 2002 at age 39.
1. Equipment: "My rookie year with the Kings in 1987," said Healy, "the equipment I wore was 12 pounds. The stuff the guys have today is better and it's less than half the weight. Losing those six pounds makes a big difference when you have to go post-to-post. Those game-savers a guy like Dwayne Roloson is still able to make? I don't know if you could make those in the old equipment. The lighter and more protective gear could also add a few years to a career."
2. Conditioning: "Night and day between now and the last generation," said Healy, who won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994. "We rode a bike once in a while and ate pretty much whatever we wanted. Now the guys are educated on the best workout techniques and take far, far better care of themselves."
4. Film Study: "Nevermind all the video the goalie coaches break down for you. If you're an NHL goalie today, all you need is nhl.com or NHL Network and Center Ice. If you want, you can watch every goal your opponent has scored. You can watch how the other goalies made the big stops. There are no secrets anymore. The shooters can watch you, but the goalies can do their homework, too."
Healy made it clear he wasn't griping, just merely stating the facts of life in the new-age NHL. He has the highest regard for his brethren in net who made it past their 40th birthdays.
"I'm in awe of these guys," said Healy. "What Hasek did at 42 was phenomenal. What Roloson is doing on Long Island is really something special. There has been no drop-off in Dwayne's play. I think these men are paving the way for more goalies to follow."