Roger Allan Crozier - Born March 16, 1942 in Bracebridge, Ontario – Died January 11, 1996 in Wilmington, Delaware was a Canadian ice Hockey goaltender and general manager.
Crozier spent his junior career with the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey Association / OHA from 1959 to 1962. Crozier helped the Teepees win the 1960 J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHA champions, the 1960 George Richardson Memorial Trophy as Eastern Canada champions, and the 1960 Memorial Cup championship. Crozier was also a OHA-Jr. First All-Star Team in 1960, 1961 & 1962.
During his time with the Teepees, Crozier developed his first ulcer (pancreatitis), a problem that would plague him for the rest of his career.
Because of his small frame and size (5 ft 8 in (173 cm) - 160 lbs (73 kg), he was not a favourite with scouts or critics. Despite this, the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League / AHL recruited Crozier to fill in for their injured starting goaltender, Denis DeJordy in 1961. In three games, Crozier recorded two wins and a 2.31 goals against average (GAA). He returned to the Teepees for the 1961–62 season, during which he also played in 1 game with the Bisons and 3 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds of the Eastern Professional Hockey League / EPHL.
Crozier played his first full season of pro Hockey with the EPHL St. Louis Braves in the 1962-63 season, and also played in 4 games for the Bisons.
The Chicago Black Hawks owned the NHL rights to Crozier, and traded him to the Detroit Red Wings with Ron Ingram for Howie Young, June 5, 1963. The Red Wings sent Crozier to their minor league team, the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets for the 1963-64 season, where he won the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award (fewest goals against), and the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award for AHL Rookie of the Year 1964. Crozier was voted to the AHL Second All-Star Team. Crozier also made his NHL debut that season. The Red Wings' starting goaltender, Terry Sawchuk, was injured and Crozier was called up as a substitute on November 30, 1963 vs Toronto Maple Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens in a 1-1 tie. He got his 1st NHL win on December 14, 1963 vs the Chicago Black Hawks at Detroit Olympia in a 5-4 Detroit win, and in only 15 games, he impressed management so well that he was made the Red Wings' new starting goaltender. Sawchuk was left unprotected by the Red Wings during the intraleague waiver draft in the off-season and was picked up by the Toronto Maple Leafs. This made Crozier the Red Wings' starting goaltender at the age of 22.
In 1964–65, his rookie season, Crozier started all of his team's games, the last goalie to do so in the NHL, and he led the league in wins and shutouts with 40 and six respectively. His 2.42 GAA was the second lowest in the league. He was awarded the 1965 Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie and he was named to the NHL First All-Star Team.
During his sophomore season, Crozier missed the beginning of the 1965-66 season due to pancreatitis. In 64 games that year, he posted 27 wins and led the league with seven shutouts, and the Red Wings clinched a spot in the playoffs. After eliminating the Black Hawks in the semi-finals, the Red Wings squared off against the Montreal Canadiens in the 1966 Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings won the first two games, but the Canadiens came back and won the next two. In the fourth game, Crozier suffered a leg injury. He played in game five, but the injury curbed his mobility. The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in game six. Even though the Red Wings lost, Crozier was awarded the 1966 Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most valuable player in the playoffs. He was the first goaltender to win the award and the first player to win it in a losing effort.
Due to pancreatitis, Crozier missed twelve games out of 70 in 1966–67. His numbers were down as he won only 22 games and recorded a 3.35 GAA. The Red Wings missed the playoffs. After another bout of pancreatitis at the beginning of the 1967–68 season, Crozier announced his retirement due to stress and depression. Six weeks later, however, he returned to the ice; he played five games with the Fort Worth Wings of the Central Professional Hockey League / CPHL as conditioning, then returned to Detroit. After two more seasons on a mediocre Red Wings team, he was traded to the newly formed Buffalo Sabres for Tom Webster, June 10, 1970.
Crozier started the Sabres' first NHL game on October 10, 1970 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He stopped all but one of 36 shots to earn the franchise's first victory, 2–1. On December 6, 1970, Crozier earned the franchise's first shutout in a 1–0 win over the Minnesota North Stars. By late December however, Crozier was deeply exhausted and most of the Sabres' goaltending duties fell upon Joe Daley and Dave Dryden. Crozier finished the season with a 9–20–7 record and a 3.68 GAA. The Sabres also missed the playoffs, finishing fifth in the East Division. Adding to Crozier's continual health problems, his gallbladder was removed during the off-season.
The 1971–72 season was even worse for the Sabres as they finished with the fewest wins in the league with 16. Crozier posted a 13–34–14 record and a 3.51 GAA. He faced 2,190 shots during the season, a team record which stands to this day. The Sabres improved in 1972–73 and made the playoffs for the first time in their history. In 49 games, Crozier had his first winning record with the Sabres and he posted a much improved 2.76 GAA. In the first round, the Sabres faced the Montreal Canadiens. Crozier played four games and won two, but the Sabres lost the series in six games.
Still suffering from pancreatitis and now afflicted by ulcers and gallbladder problems, Crozier saw his playing time greatly reduced.
In the 1974–75 season, Crozier posted 17 wins and two losses, helping the Sabres to first place in the Adams Division. During the playoffs, Crozier played five games, including two in the Stanley Cup Finals. After eliminating the Black Hawks and the Canadiens, the Sabres faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game three of the Finals in Buffalo was known as the "Fog Game"; a heat wave in May hit the arena and with no air conditioning inside, the temperature increased. Fog started to develop and soon visibility decreased. Gerry Desjardins was the starting goaltender but after allowing three goals in the first period, he was replaced by Crozier. Crozier allowed one goal during the rest of the game and helped the Sabres win 5–4 in overtime. With the Sabres trailing in the series 3–2, Crozier was selected to start game six and he shut out the Flyers in the first two periods. In the third period the Flyers score the only 2 goals of the game, and they won the 1975 Stanley Cup. For the third time, Crozier's team lost in the finals.
In 1975–76, Crozier played in only 11 games due to his persisting ailments. The Sabres traded him to the Washington Capitals in exchange for cash on March 3, 1977. He played only three games with the Capitals before retiring after 14 seasons in the NHL.
Crozier played in 518 regular season NHL games, winning 206, losing 197, tying 70, and played in 32 NHL playoff games, winning 14 and losing 16.
After retiring, Crozier served in the Capitals' front office. He served as interim general manager during the 1981–82 season and served as head coach for one game during that season too.
In 2000, the NHL unveiled the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award, which was given annually to the goaltender who posted the best save percentage in each season from 1999–2000 to 2006–07. The award was co-sponsored by Crozier's last employer, MBNA.
Roger Crozier was inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.