Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- John Vanbiesbrouck
By the time he was 15, he had yet to be claimed in the Midget Draft so his father drove him to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to tryout with the Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. Vanbiesbrouck made the team, and for three years he was the number one goalie in the Soo. By the time he was eligible for the NHL Entry Draft, there was no doubt that he would be selected. The Rangers chose him 72nd overall in 1981, and just a few months later he made his professional debut with the Blueshirts as an emergency call-up.

On December 5, 1981, he beat the now defunct Colorado Rockies 2-1, but at 18 years of age, he was returned to the Soo to develop. For two years he played goal for the United States at the World Championships, and in the fall of 1984 he made the Rangers full time. But the New Yorkers were eliminated quickly from the playoffs in the spring of 1985, and Vanbiesbrouck gladly accepted an invitation to represent the U.S. at the World Championship in Prague.

He stayed the Rangers number one goalie until Mike Richter arrived on Broadway and established himself as an equal but younger talent. The two became the best duo in the game, but Beezer was left exposed in the Expansion Draft in 1993 by Vancouver after the Rangers had traded him to the Canucks for future considerations (Doug Lidster). The Panthers selected him first in that roster-building draft, and Vanbiesbrouck almost single-handedly legitimized a talent thin team in Florida with his consistent brilliance.

Mature and on his own again in the Florida net, Vanbiesbrouck established himself as one of the best goalies in the game. He was with the team for five years and led them to an improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals in the spring of 1996 before losing to Colorado in four games. In 1998 he found himself an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, and he auctioned his services to the highest bidder. That turned out to be the Philadelphia, a Stanley Cup-contending team that had lost faith in its starter, Ron Hextall. Beezer signed a three-year contract for $11.25 million, but his first season with the new Flyers was disappointing. He failed to shine in the regular season, and in the playoffs the Flyers were eliminated in the first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His last full season was 2000-01, which was split between the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. After a brief retirement, Vanbiesbrouck played five more games with the Devils before calling it a career on May 22, 2002. He was the 15th goalie, and only the second American-born goalie, a month after Tom Barrasso, to win 300 NHL games.

Internationally, he played in both the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups for the U.S., though he missed the inaugural World Cup because of shoulder surgery. He teamed again with Mike Richter at the Nagano Olympics in Japan in 1998 when the NHL shut down to allow all its pros to participate. However, the U.S. sixth-place finish was considered a disappointment.

Vanbiesbrouck purchased a share of the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds after retiring and served as the team's GM and coach. However after directing a racial slur towards his captain, Vanbiesbrouck relinguished his duties.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP W L T SO Avg GP W L T SO Avg
1979-80 Bishop Gallagher High-MI
1980-81 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OMJHL 56 31 16 1 0 4.14 11 3 3 1 3.15
1981-82 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 31 12 12 2 0 3.62 7 1 4 0 4.35
1981-82 New York Rangers NHL 1 1 0 0 0 1.00
1981-82 United States WJC-A 5 1 3 0 0 5.70
1982-83 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 62 39 21 1 0 3.61 16 7 6 1 3.56
1982-83 United States WJC-A 5 3.64
1983-84 New York Rangers NHL 3 2 1 0 0 3.33 1 0 0 0 0.00
1983-84 Tulsa Oilers CHL 37 20 13 2 3 3.46 4 4 0 0 2.50
1984-85 New York Rangers NHL 42 12 24 3 1 4.22 1 0 0 0 0.00
1984-85 United States WEC-A 9 6 3 0 0 5.64
1985-86 New York Rangers NHL 61 31 21 5 3 3.32 16 8 8 1 3.27
1986-87 New York Rangers NHL 50 18 20 5 0 3.64 4 1 3 1 3.38
1986-87 United States WEC-A 7 2 5 0 0 4.01
1987-88 United States Can-Cup 4 2 2 0 0 2.00
1987-88 New York Rangers NHL 56 27 22 7 2 3.38
1988-89 New York Rangers NHL 56 28 21 4 0 3.69 2 0 1 0 3.36
1988-89 United States WEC-A 5 1 2 1 0 4.53
1989-90 New York Rangers NHL 47 19 19 7 1 3.38 6 2 3 0 3.02
1990-91 New York Rangers NHL 40 15 18 6 3 3.35 1 0 0 0 1.15
1990-91 United States WEC-A 10 3 4 2 0 4.67
1991-92 United States Can-Cup 1 1 0 0 0 3.00
1991-92 New York Rangers NHL 45 27 13 3 2 2.85 7 2 5 0 3.75
1992-93 New York Rangers NHL 48 20 18 7 4 3.31
1993-94 Florida Panthers NHL 57 21 25 11 1 2.53
1994-95 Florida Panthers NHL 37 14 15 4 4 2.47
1995-96 Florida Panthers NHL 57 26 20 7 2 2.68 22 12 10 1 2.25
1996-97 Florida Panthers NHL 57 27 19 10 2 2.29 5 1 4 1 2.38
1997-98 Florida Panthers NHL 60 18 29 11 4 2.87
1997-98 United States Olympics 1 0 0 0 0 0.00
1998-99 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 62 27 18 15 6 2.18 6 2 4 1 1.46
1999-00 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 50 25 15 9 3 2.20
2000-01 New York Islanders NHL 44 10 25 5 1 3.01
2000-01 New Jersey Devils NHL 4 4 0 0 1 1.50
2001-02 New Jersey Devils NHL 5 2 3 0 0 2.00
NHL Totals 882 374 346 119 40 2.97 71 28 38 5 2.67


OHL Second All-Star Team (1983)
CHL First All-Star Team (1984)
Terry Sawchuk Trophy (fewest goals against - CHL) (1984) (shared with Ron Scott)
Tommy Ivan Trophy (MVP - CHL) (1984) (co-winner - Bruce Affleck)
NHL First All-Star Team (1986)
Vezina Trophy (1986)
NHL Second All-Star Team (1994) Played in NHL All-Star Game (1994, 1996, 1997)
Traded to Vancouver by NY Rangers for future considerations (Doug Lidster, June 25, 1993), June 20, 1993. Claimed by Florida from Vancouver in Expansion Draft, June 24, 1993. Signed as a free agent by Philadelphia, July 16, 1998. Traded to NY Islanders by Philadelphia for NY Islanders' 4th round choice (later traded to Nashville - Nashville selected Jordin Tootoo) in 2001 Entry Draft, June 25, 2000. Traded to New Jersey by NY Islanders for Chris Terreri and New Jersey's 9th round choice (Juha-Pekka Ketola) in 2001 Entry Draft, March 12, 2001.
Officially announced retirement, June 10, 2001. Signed as a free agent by New Jersey, February 4, 2002.
Officially announced retirement, May 22, 2002.