Tom Barrasso entered the NHL for the 1983-84 season as an 18 year old, going straight from high school to the Buffalo Sabres. Observers around the league thought the native of Stowe, Massachusetts, would be a good professional goaltender. After all, he'd played well for the U.S. Olympic team and received some excellent coaching under Team USA's Eddie Johnson. But few people expected the impact the young goalie would have right out of the starting blocks as a teenager.
In his rookie season, Barrasso won the Vezina Trophy as the leagues best netminder and the Calder Trophy as the top rookie. In Buffalo, he was the high-profile half of an amazing goaltending team with Bob Sauve, and the two shared the award for the NHL's best goals-against average in Barrasso's second year.
By 1984, some experts called Barrasso the best goalie in the world. At the Canada Cup that year, Team USA general manager and former NHLer Lou Nanne was one of them.
Barrasso strapped on his first pair of goalie pads as a four-year-old. By the time he was in high school, he'd been recruited by just about every college in the U.S. He picked Providence College in Rhode Island as the place he wanted to play his collegiate hockey but went straight to the NHL instead after playing in the 1984 Canada Cup with Team USA.
Just after the start of the 1988-89 season, Barrasso was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 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.
After spending most of his career with Pittsburgh, Barrasso was traded to Ottawa during 1999-00 season. After a year of semi-retirement, he returned to the NHL for the 2001-02 season where he split the season between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 2002-03, Barrasso signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues and played a handful of games after the team's two goalies suffered injuries early in the season and was subsequently released by the team. Later that summer, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Barrasso and on that same day he announced his retirement from the game.
A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Barrasso went on to represent his homeland on several fronts including the 1983 World Juniors, the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup, the 1986 World Championships and the 2002 Winter Olympics.