Born: March 31, 1965
Birthplace: Boston, MA, U.S.A.
Height: 6'3" Weight: 211 lbs.
Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres, 1st Round, 5th
Overall, 1983 NHL Amateur Draft
Seasons with Buffalo: 1983-84 to 1988-89
Uniform Number: 30
|Tom Barrasso was born and raised outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He played hockey for local Acton-Boxboro High School, where in 1982-83, his senior season, he caught the attention of NHL scouts by posting 10 shutouts and an impressive 0.99 goals against average (GAA).
A member of the U.S. National Junior Team in 1982-83, Barrasso played with a poise usually reserved for older, more experienced players. Though he was expected to go high in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, nobody, Barrasso included, expected him to go quite as high as he did.
Having traded away goaltender Don Edwards in 1982, GM Scotty Bowman was looking for a solid goaltender to backup Bob Sauve. Though he had young netminder Jacques Cloutier waiting in the wings, Bowman wasn't convinced that the injury-prone Cloutier had what it took to be his goaltender of the furture. With 3 picks at his disposal in the first round of the 1983 Draft, he decided to take a chance on Barrasso, selecting him with the team's first pick, 5th overall. Never before had a goaltender been taken so high in the NHL
|Draft. Barrasso remained the highest-drafted goaltender in league history for 14 years until the New York Islanders took Roberto Luongo 4th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.
Barrasso graduated from high school shortly after the draft, and had qualified for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. After training with the team, he decided he would rather try his hand at the professional game. He signed a contract with the Sabres on September 9, 1983, and joined the team for their upcoming training camp.
|Bob Sauve had finished strong the previous season, and was impressive in the playoffs, recording back-to-back shutouts in Montreal as the Sabres upset the Canadiens and advanced to the second round. He was the Sabres number one goaltender going in to training camp, and expected to be the starter throughout the season. Not content to be a backup, Barrasso came to training camp ready to compete for the starting job. Barrasso played well throughout the pre-season, giving Sauve a run for his money. Eager to see how he would handle game pressure, Bowman decided to start him in the team's first pre-season game against the Canadiens.|
|Barrasso gives Bob Sauve a pat on the back.
Photo Credit: Bill Wippert
|He finished the 1983-84 season with the league's second-best goals against average, posting an impressive 2.84 mark. In 42 games, Barrasso had 26 wins, 4 better than the veteran Sauve, 12 losses and 3 ties. At the end of the season, the accolades rolled in. He was named NHL First Team All-Star goaltender, and was a member of the NHL All-Rookie team. At the annual NHL awards ceremony, he became only the third player in NHL history to win the Calder Trophy, as NHL Rookie of the Year and the Vezina Trophy, as the league's outstanding goaltender in the same year. The Sabres rewarded his efforts with the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Trophy, as the team's outstanding rookie.
In the fall of 1984, just prior to the start of the Sabres' 1984 training camp, Barrasso was selected to once again represent the United States, this time at the 1984 Canada Cup tournament. Barrasso appeared in five of the team's six tournament games, posting a 3.10 GAA with a record of 2 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. He led the team to the semi-finals of the tournament, where they lost to eventual runner-up, Sweden. Barrasso finished with the fourth best record amongst the tournament's goaltenders.
After a stunning rookie season and a solid performance in the Canada Cup, Barrasso caught a bit of the sophomore jinx to start the 1984-85 season. After going 2-3-0 in his first 5 games, Barrasso was pulled from the team's October 26, 1984 game against the Detroit Red Wings after giving up 5 goals, and then forced to sit on the bench while the Wings scored not one but two empty net goals. Following the 7-3
|loss, Bowman sent a bitter Barrasso down to the Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans, to regain his focus. The demotion to the minors served as a wakeup call for the young goaltender. Determined to win his major league job back, Barrasso worked hard to prove himself. In 5 games in Rochester, which remains the only minor league action he's seen in his career to date, Barrasso had 3 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie, with 1 shutout and a 1.35 GAA.|
|Sauve and Barrasso pose with the Jennings Trophy.
Photo Credit: Bill Wippert
|Following Barrasso's stellar 1984-85 season, Bob Sauve was traded to Chicago, and what remained of the goaltender controversy in Buffalo was over, for the time being. With Sauve out of the picture, Barrasso was the undisputed starter, with Cloutier and rookie Daren Puppa rotating in the backup role. Though Barrasso's playing time increased in the 1985-86 season, he failed to match the numbers he put up in the previous two seasons. In 60 games played, Barrasso posted a 3.61 GAA, and went 24-29-5, with 2 shutouts as the Sabres failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the 1973-74 season. To his credit, the team he was playing behind was one of the worst to take the ice for the Sabres since their inception in 1970-71. Under pressure as the starting goaltender without a proven backup behind him, and a defensive corps that was mediocre at best in front of him, Barrasso couldn't help but falter a bit in his third NHL campaign.|
|1983-84: Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award (Rookie of the Year)
1984-85: Wayne Larkin Memorial Award (Most Valuable Player)
1987-88: Wayne Larkin Memorial Award (Most Valuable Player)
1987-88: Star of Stars Award (Most Three Stars selections)
|1983-84: NHL First Team All-Star
1983-84: NHL All Rookie Team
1983-84: Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
1983-84: Vezina Trophy (Outstanding goaltender)
1984-85: NHL Second Team All-Star
1984-85: Jennings Trophy (lowest team goals against average, shared with Bob Sauve.)
1992-93: NHL Second Team All-Star
|Photo Credit: Robert Shaver|
|Photo Credit: Bill Wippert|
|The Sabres' Draft Class of 1983: Barrasso, John Tucker, Bowman, Normand Lacombe and Adam Creighton.|
|Much to the chagrin of Bob Sauve, it was Barrasso who was chosen to be in the net for the Sabres in their season opener, October 5, 1983 against the Hartford Whalers. Despite giving up two early goals, Barrasso battled back to post a 5-3 win in his NHL debut. Barrasso started six more games that October, winning 4, losing 1 and tying 1, with a 2.63 goals against average. His efforts were rewarded when he was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for October, 1983. Barrasso alternated starts with Sauve for the remainder of the 1983-84 season. His first NHL shutout came on January 18, 1984 in a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Following that accomplishment, Barrasso was named NHL Player of the Week for the week of January 15, 1984.|
|shutouts. Mid-way through the season, Barrasso was chosen as the starting goaltender for the Wales Conference at the 1985 NHL All-Star Game. The team's starting goaltender throughout the second half of the season, Barrasso started 43 of the Sabres' last 57 games. In the Playoffs, Barrasso started all 5 games of Buffalo's opening round loss to the Quebec Nordiques.|
|Though he turned in a better season than he had in his rookie year, Barrasso didn't bring home quite as much hardware from the 1985 NHL Awards. He finished 2nd to Philadelphia goaltender Pelle Lindburgh in voting for the Vezina Trophy and 8th in voting for the Hart Trophy, as the NHL Most Valuable Player. He and Sauve shared the Jennings Trophy, which goes to the team with the league's fewest goals against. At the Sabres' annual awards ceremony, Barrasso won the Wayne Larkin Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the team's Most Valuable Player.|
|When he was recalled to the Sabres in early November, he was back on top of his game. He turned in his best season as a Sabre that year, posting a league-leading 2.66 GAA with 25 wins, 18 losses, and 10 ties in 52 games played. He led the league with 5 shutouts, including back-to-back shutouts against Toronto and Winnipeg in December, 1984. He was named the NHL's Player of the Week for the season time in his career on December 31, 1984. His 5 shutouts tied a team record set by Don Edwards in 1977-78 which would stand until 1993-94, when Dominik Hasek posted 7|
|If the 1985-86 season was a bad one foe the Sabres, 1986-87 was downright tragic. Barrasso got off to a poor start, going 3-10-2 in his first 15 games. His GAA through the first half of the season was 4.04, and he began to lose playing time to Cloutier, who was bucking for more ice time. Barrasso improved a bit through the second half of the season, winning 14 of his last 27 games, and improving his GAA to 3.41. He finished the season with 17 wins, 23 losses and 2 ties with 2 shutouts and a 3.65 GAA. The Sabres finished the season dead last in the league for the first time in franchise history. Their 308 goals allowed during the season was the most ever in franchise history. Offensively, the team didn't fare much better, scoring only 280 goals, the lowest since the 1973-74 season.
After hitting rock bottom in 1986-87, things started to turn around for Barrasso and the Sabres in 1987-88. Barrasso was back to form after two lackluster seasons, and was once again the team's udisputed starting goaltender. He played in 54 games during the season, posting a 3.31 GAA with 25 wins, 18 losses and 8 ties. The Sabres finished the month of January with a record of 10-4-2, largely due to the play of Barrasso, who was named the NHL's Player of the Month for January, 1988. Behind Barrasso's efforts, the Sabres were the league's most improved team, jumping from last place the year before
|to 3rd in the Adams Division and 7th overall in the NHL. For the first time in 3 years, the Sabres made it into the Playoffs, where they lost their opening round series in 6 games to the Boston Bruins. At the end of the season, Barrasso was rewarded for his improved performance with his second Wayne Larkin Memorial Trophy as the Sabres Most Valuable Player. He also finished second in the voting for the Vezina Trophy, losing out to Edmonton Oilers netminder Grant Fuhr.|
|Barrasso walked into the Sabres' training camp as the clear choice to start during the 1988-89 season. Much like the rookie Barrasso had pushed the veteran Bob Sauve during the 1983 training camp, young Daren Puppa gave the veteran Barrasso a run for his money in the team's 1988 camp. Puppa was coming off a fine season in Rochester during the 1987-88 season, and was ready to play in the NHL. Cloutier was also playing well, and though he was sent to Rochester at the start of the season to get some ice time, he had proven himself ready to step into an NHL job. It was obvious that the Sabres were well stocked in net, and trade rumors began swirling around, most centering on Barrasso.
Through the first month of the season, Barrasso struggled, and the trade talk became more persistent. His case wasn't helped much by the fact that the team seemed to be playing better for Puppa than they were in front of him. There was friction between Barrasso and Puppa as well, making for an uncomfortable situation in the Sabres locker room. It soon became clear to GM Gerry Meehan that somebody had to go, and since Barrasso had the most market value of any of the team's goaltenders, he would be the one to be traded. On November 12, 1988 the long-rumored trade finally took place, and Barrasso was off to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with a 3rd round pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft (Joe Dziedzic). In return, the Sabres received
|defenseman Doug Bodger and Darrin Shannon, a forward who was Pittsburgh's 1st round pick, 4th overall, in 1988. In 10 games as a Sabre during the 1988-89 season, Barrasso was 2-7-0 with a 4.95 GAA.
In Pittsburgh, Barrasso's career was revitilized. He played 44 games with the Penguins to finish the 1988-89 season, helping them to their first NHL Playoff appearance since the 1981-82 season. He remained with the Penguins through the next 10 seasons. During his time with Pittsburgh, Barrasso was plagued with injuries. He missed nearly the entire 1995 season recovering from wrist surgery, and was sidelined for all but 5 games during the 1996-97 season with an injured shoulder. When he was healthy, he was one of the best goaltenders in the league. He won two Stanley Cup Championships with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992. In 1992-93, he led the league with 43 wins and was named Second Team NHL All-Star. He also became the first American-born goaltender to surpass the 300 win mark. He retains several Pittsburgh franchise records, including most shutouts most wins by a goaltender.
In 1999-2000, Barrasso lost his starting job in Pittsburgh to Jean-Sebastien Aubin. As a backup, Barrasso played just 18 games for the Penguins before being traded in March, 2000 to the Ottawa Senators. He finished the season with Ottawa where he was the starting goaltender throughout the Playoffs as the Senators lost in the first round to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
A free agent at the end of the 1999-2000 season, Barrasso elected to take a year off from hockey to care for his daughter Ashley, who had been diagnosed with cancer. He signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes in the summer of 2001, and joined the Hurricanes for the 2001-02 season. Though he started the season as the backup to Arturs Irbe, his stellar play throughout the season thrust him into a more prominent role on the team. Barrasso shared starts throughout much of the season with Irbe, neither taking a firm hold of the starting duties.
In December, 2001, Barrasso was added to the United States' roster for the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Barrasso made one start for Team USA, his first Olympic action, and his first International appearance in over 15 years. Barrasso made 12 saves on 13 shots against as the United States hammered Belarus by the score of 8-1. Barrasso and Team USA won a Silver Medal at the Olympic Tournament.
On March 16, 2002, The Hurricanes traded Barrasso to the Toronto Maple Leafs for 4th Round pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Brought in to replace the injured Curtis Joseph in Toronto's lineup, Barrasso made just 3 starts for the Maple Leafs before suffering a hamstring injury which sidelined him for the rest of the season. With Joseph back in the lineup, Barrasso's place on Toronto's depth chart remains unclear.
Through the 2001-02 season, Tom Barrasso remains the winningest American-born goaltender in NHL history. He is currently 10th all-time in wins by an NHL goaltender. He also holds the NHL record for career points by a goaltender. Through the end of the 2001-02 regular season, Barrasso has 48 points, all assists.
|Barrasso and Jacques Cloutier
Photo Credit: Bill Wippert