Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tommy Salo Jersey Card

Tommy Salo's a bizarre case. It can be said that during his time with the New York Islanders, he was among the lower tier of NHL starters, yet it's also true that he was the team's best goalie of the 1990s. Because they were a shitty team that made shitty decisions, one of which was to acquire goalies who were past their prime (Ron Hextall, Félix Potvin) or just plain bad (Tommy Soderstrom), Salo's main competition as "the guy" of the decade would be perennial backups Glenn Healy, Mark Fitzpatrick and Jamie McLennan.

Also, because the Isles were so terrible, he got to play in many World Championships with Team Sweden, more often than not displaying amazing poise under pressure:
- 1994: bronze medal:3 games, 3.33 GAA, .846 save %
- 1997: silver medal: 10 games, 2.00 GAA, .918 save %
- 1998: gold medal: 9 games, 0.77 GAA, .951 save %
He was also spectacularly good at the 1994 Olympics, helping secure gold for the Swedes against Team Canada, especially when he stopped Paul Kariya on a penalty shot.

Of course, this being the 1990s Iles, GM Mike Milbury tore into him at an arbitration hearing, then traded him to the Edmonton Oilers, where he would be a workhorse, finishing in the top-8 for games played four straight times, and finishing top-10 in Vezina voting three times.

His Vezina votes were reminiscent of those of the 1980s, as he wasn't dominant or anything, but he just played so many games; his record for those three seasons reads as follows:
from HockeyDB
Two of those seasons, he was barely a game or two over .500, and the other season, his save percentage was a full ten points lower than the other two, and his GAA was more than 20 points higher than the following year.

He again played in multiple World Championships during that period, four of them as a starter, three of them earning bronze medals:
- 1999: bronze medal: 8 games, 1.84, .921%
- 2000: 7th place: 6 games, 1.67 GAA
- 2001: bronze medal: 8 games, 1.94, .920%
- 2002: bronze medal: 7 games, 1.96, .919%
And, of course, this happened while he was representing Sweden at the 2002 Olympics:

He was never the same after that, and he'd only represent Sweden as a backup from that point on, albeit on a silver medal-winning team at the Worlds in 2003 (3 games, 4.15 GAA, .861 save %) and a disappointing fifth-place finish at the 2004 World Cup (one game, 2.00 GAA, .895 save %).

I traded for a card of his with the Oilers a little over a year ago:
That's card #V-TS from Upper Deck's 2002-03 Mask Collection set and View From the Cage sub-set. It shows him wearing Edmonton's turn-of-the-millennium white (home) uniform, with a matching game-worn jersey swatch (that could also very well be from his days on Long Island).

His goaltending style was also reminiscent of that of the 1980s, as he mostly just stood up, waited for a shot to be taken, and would use his reflexes to get to the puck. It was crowd-pleasing, for sure, but it probably worried his coaches more than they care to admit. And his off nights were, thus, extremely off, because he couldn't rely on odds and statistics like butterfly goalies, who are set to block 83-89% of shots just by kneeling and keeping still.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea Felix Potvin had a stint with the Islanders, but then again, his career was pretty quiet near the end.

    Nice post!