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15 Shortest Goalies to Ever Play in the NHL

Charles loves writing about sports, particularly about NHL players.

Not all goalies are tall. Read on to see the shortest goalies in history.

Not all goalies are tall. Read on to see the shortest goalies in history.

In today's NHL, the majority of saves are based on positioning. Goaltenders today are expected to be big and take up as much space as possible in the front of the net. Small goaltenders tend to be at a huge disadvantage because they offer less coverage. They also have to wear proportional equipment, which means they cover even less of the net than a 6'5" goalie with massive equipment.

The constant evolution and importance placed on defensive play means goaltending is no longer about crazy reflexes and flying around the crease to make acrobatic saves. Defending in the crease used to be the bread and butter of smaller and agile goalies. This task is now left to defensive players.

Because of this, the quickness, agility, and reflexes associated with small goalies has been de-emphasized. Goalies are now critiqued by the size of the area they can block.

It’s amazing how the game has evolved over a short period of time to the point where we have giant goaltenders like Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop. Everyone below 6'0" in the net is considered short now.

With the average height of an NHL goalie being just over 6’2, a 5'7" goalie would need to be a freak of nature to crack an NHL lineup today.

The deck is pretty much stacked against anyone under 5'11 from making it to the NHL today. He would have to be a phenom who is somehow doing something different than the rest of the goalie pool.

As such, the goalies that you will see on this list played in previous eras.

Fred Brathwaite

Fred Brathwaite

15. Fred Brathwaite

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Fredrick Brathwaite

Country of origin: Canada

Born: November 24, 1972

Fredrick Brathwaite is one of the few black players to play as a goaltender in the NHL. This was after Willie O'Ree broke NHL's color barrier on January 18, 1958, when he suited up for the Boston Bruins in a game against the Montreal Canadiens.

In the NHL, Brathwaite played for teams such as the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, and Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Brathwaite was signed by the Calgary Flames in the 1998–99 season. He played in 28 games for the Calgary Flames where he recorded a 2.45 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. He stayed with the Flames for two additional seasons.

In the 2001 off-season, Brathwaite was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Czech goaltender Roman Turek. He played with the Blues for two seasons as a backup before being signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2003–04 NHL season.

Normie Smith

Normie Smith

14. Normie Smith (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Norman Eugene Smith

Country of origin: Canada

Life: March 18, 1908– February 2, 1988

Normie Smith played for the Montreal Maroons and the Detroit Red Wings. He only played in the NHL for two seasons, but they were arguably the best two seasons a goaltender could have. He led the league in wins for both seasons, was named an All-Star, and was awarded the Vezina Trophy. He would also win the Stanley Cup in both seasons.

During his first Stanley Cup series, Smith had the greatest game a goalie could have when he made 92 saves. This is still an NHL record to this day.

Lindsay Middlebrook

Lindsay Middlebrook

13. Lindsay Middlebrook (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Country of origin: Canada

Born: September 7, 1955

Lindsay Middlebrook played in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota North Stars, and Winnipeg Jets.

Middlebrook competed at the tyke level before he signed with the Rangers as a free agent in 1977. He would bounce around various organizations and their developmental teams

Bert Lindsay

Bert Lindsay

12. Bert Lindsay (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Leslie Bertrand Lindsay

Country of origin: Canada

Life: July 23, 1881 – November 11, 1960

Bert Lindsay is the father of Hockey Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay.

Lindsay played for the Montreal Wanderers when they joined the NHL in 1917. He played in one of the first games in league history when his Wanderers defeated the Toronto Arenas 10-9.

In 1918, the home arena of the Wanderers burned down, and Lindsay was left without a team for the remainder of the season. He signed with the Toronto Arenas for the 1918–19 NHL season and retired when the season ended. He was already 36 when the league started.

Gump Worsley

Gump Worsley

11. Gump Worsley (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Lorne John "Gump" Worsley

Country of origin: Canada

Life: May 14, 1929 – January 26, 2007

Gump Worsley was given the nickname ‘Gump’ because of his resemblance to the comic-strip character Andy Gump.

He signed with the New York Rangers in 1952, but he was sent back to play in the farm leagues after he demanded a pay increase of 500 dollars a year.

He made his impact felt immediately in the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he won the league’s MVP award with the Vancouver Canucks in 1954.

His achievements in the minor leagues resulted in him being called up by the Rangers as their starting goaltender. He was able to beat future NHL star Johnny Bower for this position. However, he had another misunderstanding with the team, which resulted in him being traded to the Montreal Canadiens. This was due to his involvement in a proposed players’ union.

His best years were with the Canadiens. He would win four Stanley Cups with the team in 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969.

He had his best season in 1968 where he followed up a Vezina-winning performance and a career-low 1.98 goals-against average by going undefeated in the playoffs with 11 straight wins.

He would retire shortly afterwards, but he was coaxed out of retirement by the Minnesota North Stars. He recorded his best season with the team in 1972. He was second in the league with a 2.12 goals-against average.

While playing in the 25th NHL All-Star Game, Worsley was the first goaltender to have won 300 games and lost 300 games. This remarkable feat was later equaled by Curtis Joseph.

Worsley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980. He was one of the last two goaltenders (the other being Andy Brown) to play in the NHL without a face mask, doing so until his final season.

Richard Brodeur

Richard Brodeur

10. Richard Brodeur (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Richard "King Richard", "Kermit" Brodeur

Country of origin: Canada

Born: September 15, 1952

Brodeur started his professional career with the Quebec Nordiques in the World Hockey Association. He played there for seven seasons and helped the team win the Avco World Trophy.

He ended up being traded to the Vancouver Canucks prior to the 1980-81 NHL season after not getting much playing time with the Islanders.

He was the third goalie for the Islanders behind Billy Smith and Chico Resch. Brodeur guided the Canucks during their improbable playoff run to the finals, eventually losing to his old team, the Islanders.

Brodeur was selected to play in the 1983 All-Star Game, but he suffered an ear injury which ruled him out of the game.

He ended his NHL career with Hartford after remaining with the Canucks for almost eight seasons. Brodeur was inducted into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

Jacques Cloutier

Jacques Cloutier

9. Jacques Cloutier (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Country of origin: Canada

Born: January 3, 1960

Jacques Cloutier was picked in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He wouldn't play for the team until the 1981-1982 season. Cloutier would spend one season with Chicago and four seasons with Quebec. He wore #1, #29, #31, and #32 during his NHL career.

After his retirement in 1994, he would transition into a coaching career. Cloutier was inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame in 2000.

Mike O'Neill

Mike O'Neill

8. Mike O'Neill (1.70 m)

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

Full name: Michael Anthony O'Neill

Country of origin: Canada

Born: November 3, 1967

Michael Anthony O'Neill was drafted 15th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1988 NHL Supplemental Draft while he was at Yale University.

O'Neill only played a few times for the Jets; he only made 17 appearances. He mainly played for the Moncton Hawks of the AHL and the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL.

O'Neill was signed as a free agent by Anaheim and mostly played for the Long Beach Ice Dogs in the IHL.

He then signed with the Washington Capitals as a free agent in August 1997. He played 47 games for the Portland Pirates of the AHL in 1997–98.

In 2000–01, he played for the Sheffield Steelers of the British Ice Hockey Superleague. It was here where he won the B&H Cup, the Challenge Cup, the League Championship, and the Playoff Championship.

Frank Brophy

Frank Brophy

7. Frank Brophy (1.68 m)

Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Full name: Thomas Francis Constantine Brophy

Country of origin: Canada

Life: March 12, 1897 – June 29, 1930

Frank Brophy only played one season in the NHL. In that one season, he played in 21 games and conceded 148 goals for the Quebec Bulldogs.

Jake Forbes

Jake Forbes

6. Jake Forbes (1.68 m)

Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Full name: Vernor Vivian "Jake, Jumpin' Jackie" Forbes

Country of origin: Canada

Life: July 4, 1897 – December 30, 1985

Jake Forbes played 13 seasons in the NHL. He spent the majority of his career playing for the Hamilton Tigers/New York Americans franchise.

Whilst playing for the Toronto St. Patricks, he sat out an entire season while holding out for a $2500 salary. This made Forbes the first NHL player to sit out an entire season due to a contract dispute.

In Forbes' NHL career, he finished with 84 wins, 114 losses, and 11 ties, with a 2.76 goals-against average. When he passed away in 1985, he was the last surviving former player of the Hamilton Tigers.

Abbie Cox

Abbie Cox

5. Abbie Cox (1.68 m)

Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Full name: Albert Edward "Abbie" Cox

Country of origin: Canada

Life: July 16, 1902 – May 10, 1985

Abbie Cox only played a total of five games in the NHL. He played for the Montreal Maroons, New York Americans, Detroit Red Wings, and Montreal Canadiens.

Cox signed with the Montreal Maroons after playing two seasons with the Springfield Indians, who were an affiliate of the New York Rangers. He only managed to play one game with the Maroons as he spent most of his time playing for the minor league Windsor Bulldogs.

Cox only played periodically in the NHL. He spent a significant portion of his career in the minor leagues. He played two games for the Detroit Red Wings and one game for both the New York Americans and the Montreal Canadiens.

Charlie Hodge

Charlie Hodge

4. Charlie Hodge (1.68 m)

Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)

Full name: Charles Edward Hodge

Country of origin: Canada

Life: July 28, 1933 – April 16, 2016

Charlie Hodge played as a goalie in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, and Oakland Seals.

Whilst with the Montreal Canadiens, he didn’t initially see much playing time due to the fact that Montreal had perhaps the best goalie of the era in Jacques Plante. Hodge was only used in emergency situations. He got the chance to play full-time after Plante was traded.

Hodge made full use of this opportunity by winning the Vezina Trophy twice. He allowed the fewest number of goals twice during the regular season. Hodge was the leader of this stat in 1963–64, and he shared the lead with Gump Worsley in 1965–66.

Hodge was picked up by the Oakland Seals in the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft where he earned 13 wins, including 3 shutouts.

He was demoted to play in the Western Hockey League for the Vancouver Canucks after not getting much playing time in Oakland, and he would later retire. Hodge managed to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup six times as a player, all with Montreal.

Robbie Moore

Robbie Moore

3. Robbie Moore (1.65 m)

Height: 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)

Full name: Robert David "Robbie" Moore

Country of origin: Canada

Born: May 3, 1954

This 5’5” Canadian is one of the shortest ice hockey goaltenders to play in the NHL. Robbie Moore played for the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.

He is believed to be one of the first goalies in professional hockey to come out of his net and handle the puck like a defenseman.

Moore played in college for the University of Michigan. He held the Michigan Wolverines hockey record for most saves by a goaltender with 4,434.

Moore signed as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers. He had his NHL debut in 1979 against the Colorado Rockies where he registered a 5–0 shutout. Moore recorded a 1.77 goals-against average and also earned one assist in his five regular-season games.

In his five NHL games, he ended up with two shutouts, placing him in a tie for 9th overall for shutouts that season.

Moore also played five games for the Flyers in the 1979 playoffs, more than any goaltender for the Flyers that season. The team won their first-round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, but they lost to the New York Rangers in the second round. Moore had a 4.03 goals-against average in the playoffs and one assist.

Moore was traded with a draft choice to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Wes Jarvis and Rollie Boutin after the 1981–1982 season. He only managed to play one game for the Capitals that season.

Darren Pang

Darren Pang

2. Darren Pang (1.65 m)

Height: 1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)

Full name: Darren Robert Pang

Country of origin: Canada

Born: February 17, 1964

Darren Pang started out as a youth goalie that played in several minor hockey tournaments, such as the Quebec Pee Wee Tournament where he played for the West Ottawa Golden Knights.

He was drafted by the expansion Belleville Bulls as their first goalie. He won the Memorial Cup with the Ottawa 67’s after he was traded there.

Pang was often teased as having a “sixth hole” above his head due to the fact that he stood at only 5’5". He is the second shortest goalie to play in the NHL along with Robbie Moore.

He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1988, and he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year, which was won by Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk.

Pang set a Blackhawks record with six assists in the 1987–1988 NHL season after signing as a free agent. Unfortunately, Pang's career was cut short by a knee injury he suffered during training camp.

Roy Worters

Roy Worters

1. Roy Worters (Height: 1.60 m or 5 ft 3 in)

Height: 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)

Full name: Roy Thomas "Shrimp" Worters

Country of origin: Canada

Life: October 19, 1900 – November 7, 1957

Roy "Shrimp" Worters is officially the shortest player to ever play in the NHL. At just 5’3, he was able to play for 12 seasons and record 66 shutouts in his career.

He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Americans. In his three seasons with the Pirates, he showed remarkable skills. In a game during Pirate’s first season, Worters stopped 70 of 73 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Americans.

He would go on to spend the rest of his career with the Americans after refusing to sign with the Pirates in the 1927-28 season.

Worters became the first goaltender to win the Hart Memorial Trophy after leading the Americans to second place in the Canadian Division.

He benefited from having a crew of large defencemen guard him during his time with the Americans, which helped offset his size disadvantage. Worters would go on to win the Vezina Trophy in 1930–31 as the league's best goaltender.

Worters became the first goalie in NHL history to record back-to-back shutouts in his first two games for a new team. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.

Other 6’0” or Shorter Goalies to Play in the NHL

  1. Antti Raanta: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  2. Dominik Hašek: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  3. Alex Nedeljkovic: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  4. Carter Hutton: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  5. Jamie McLennan: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  6. Viktor Fasth: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  7. Evgeni Nabokov: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  8. Kirk McLean: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  9. Alex Stalock: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  10. Andrei Trefilov: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  11. Wade Flaherty: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  12. Jonathan Bernier: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  13. Dustin Tokarski: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  14. Ed Belfour: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  15. Casey DeSmith: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  16. Aaron Dell: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  17. Johan Hedberg: 1.83 m or 6 ft 0 in
  18. Jhonas Enroth: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  19. Jaroslav Halák: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  20. Anton Khudobin: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  21. Tim Thomas: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  22. Juuse Saros: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  23. Curtis Joseph: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  24. Bill Ranford: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  25. Mike Richter: 1.80 m or 5 ft 11 in
  26. Grant Fuhr: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  27. Richard Bachman: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  28. Pasi Nurminen: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  29. Tommy Söderström: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  30. Tiny Thompson: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  31. Doug Favell: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  32. Kelly Hrudey: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  33. Chris Osgood: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  34. Jari Kaarela: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  35. Bernie Parent: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  36. Billy Smith: 1.78 m or 5 ft 10 in
  37. Chico Resch: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  38. Johnny Bower: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  39. Mike Vernon: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  40. Turk Broda: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  41. Glenn Healy: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  42. Wendell Young: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  43. Pat Riggin: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  44. Norm Maracle: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  45. Gary Edwards: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  46. Greg Millen: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  47. Jeff Reese: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  48. Peter Sidorkiewicz: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  49. Chris Terreri: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  50. Andy Moog: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  51. Ed Staniowski: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  52. Mike Veisor: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  53. Daniel Berthiaume: 1.75 m or 5 ft 9 in
  54. Roger Crozier: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  55. Rogie Vachon: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  56. Artūrs Irbe: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  57. Gilles Meloche: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  58. Rick LaFerriere: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  59. Howie Lockhart: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  60. John Garrett: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  61. Mario Gosselin: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  62. Ken Holland: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  63. Don Beaupre: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  64. Jarmo Myllys: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  65. Bill Beveridge: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  66. Percy Jackson: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  67. Marv Edwards: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  68. Red Spooner: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  69. Richard Sévigny: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  70. Alain Chevrier: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  71. Pokey Reddick: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in
  72. John Vanbiesbrouck: 1.73 m or 5 ft 8 in

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© 2018 Charles Nuamah

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