Bob Froese

When Bob Froese's junior career ended, you would have had a hard time convincing him he'd be one of the better goalies in the NHL in the 1980s. From 1974 through 1978 Froese toiled with some bad junior teams in St. Catherines, Oshawa and Niagara Falls. He was drafted in the 11th round, 160th overall by the St Louis Blues. It is rare that a late pick blossoms like Froese did.

Froese never got a chance in St. Louis. He was apparently drafted to fill a minor league position in the Blues depth chart. He played in the lowly IHL and was released from the Blues organization in the summer of 1981.

The Blues loss was the Flyers gain as they signed him as an unrestricted free agent. He reported to minor league Hershey of the AHL but before long was called up to the Flyers. He had a strong rookie season as a backup netminder. He had a 17-4-2 record with 4 shutouts and a 2.52 GAA. Almost out of nowhere, Froese was now in the NHL to stay.

Froese was initially a backup to fellow hot goalie prospect Pelle Lindbergh. However in 1983-84 Lindbergh struggled while Froese played well. He was 28-13-7 with a GAA of 3.14 in a high scoring NHL.

Coach Iron Mike Keenan made his NHL debut in 1984-85. One of his many traits is to stick with one goalie for an entire season. Unfortunately for Bob, Iron Mike preferred Lindbergh. Froese only got into 17 games, but put up an impressive numbers which should have earned him more ice time. He had 13-2 record with 1 shutout and a 2.41 GAA, although Lindbergh was incredible as well, winning the Vezina and All Star honors.

Froese was thrust into the spotlight the following year, as Lindbergh tragically died in an automobile accident just 8 games into the season. Froese managed to stay focused on the ice, and filled in admirably. He posted a league high 31 wins (with 10 losses and 3 ties), 5 shutouts and 2.55 GAA. He didn't get the Vezina, but was named as a Second Team All Star and shared the Jennings trophy with back up Darren Jensen.

Unfortunately for Froese, he was unable to lead the Flyers past the first round of the playoffs. This did not help him get into Mike Keenan's good books, not that he ever really seemed to be.

Despite his incredible season and track record, Froese lost his job the following season to an amazing rookie named Ron Hextall. Hexy would go on to one of most amazing debuts in NHL history. Froese returned to backup duty, only appearing in 3 games before Christmas.

Froese got the Christmas gift he wanted in 1986, as he was traded to the nearby New York Rangers. Froese however would never be the number one guy in New York. Instead he served for 4 seasons as a capable backup and father figure to John Vanbiesbrouck.

Eventually the highly touted Mike Richter was ready to play in New York as well. With Richter and Beezer, Froese was quickly pushed out of the way by the 1989-90 season. That proved to be his last season in the National Hockey League.

Froese turned to God after hockey. At last note he was pastor at Faith Fellowship Church in Clarence, New York. He has also been active with Hockey Ministries International, a religious charity featuring many former NHL stars like Ryan Walter and Mike Gartner.


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