In the playoffs, goaltending is key and could be the make-or-break part of a series. Replacing a goalie could be a great shift in momentum or a sign of giving up, with this year showing a little of both with so many goalies being pulled. However, for four games in 1993's playoffs, this week's AGM may have helped swing the momentum to his team's side; especially since they lost big in Games 2 and 3 before they put him in. It was his only career NHL playoff action. This week, we look at the career of Robb Stauber.
Stauber was a stand-out for the Duluth-Denfield Wildcats in the Minnesota high school ranks with a 2.48 GAA in 49 games. This drew the attention of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who recruited Stauber for their squad. It also drew the attention of the Los Angeles Kings, who selected Stauber in the 6th round of the 1986 Draft.
Stabuer's freshman year in 1986-87 was able to ease him into the program, only playing him 20 games behind starter John Blue, with Stauber going 13-5-0. That year, Stauber also got the chance to play with Team USA in the World Juniors, where he would see four games of action. The 1987-88 season saw Stauber take over the starting role for the Gophers, playing 44 games and going 34-10-0, with a decent 2.72 GAA. It was a great year for Stauber, who was named the WCHA MVP, WCHA Goaltender of the Year, WCHA First Team All-Star, NCAA First Team All-Amercian, and he won the Hobey Baker Award for top US Collegiate Player. The 1988-89 season would be hard to top, but Stauber did what he could, playing only 34 games, but would go 26-8-0 with an even better 2.43 GAA, which would give him WCHA Top Goaltender honors once again. Stauber went to play of his country again, as he would play for Team USA in the World Championships, going 3-3-0.
Stauber jumped into the professional ranks in the 1989-90, spending most of his time with the New Haven Knighthawks, playing only 14 games and going 6-6-2, then going 2-3 in his five playoff games. Stauber got some time in March of 1990 with the Kings, going 0-1-0 in his two appearances. It was another year in New Haven for Stauber, who played 33 games for the Knighthawks, but struggled going 13-16-4; which got Stauber some time in the IHL with the Phoenix Roadrunners going 1-2-0 in his four games of play with the Runners. Stauber stayed with the Runners for the 1991-92 season, playing 22 games behind Darryl Gilmour and David Goverde; but the struggles continued with Stabuer going 8-12-1. Yet in the 1992-93 season, luck was on Stauber's side as he was the back-up for the Kings for the season, backing up Kelly Hrudey. Stabuer would go 15-8-4 in his 31 games, but he really shined in the playoffs.
The Kings were playing the strong Calgary Flames team in the first round. Even with the Kings winning the first game, Kelly Hrudey let up 14 goals in the next two games. Down 2-1, Stauber was thrown into net and won the next three for the Kings, allowing only 11 goals in those three games, and helping the Kings advance to the second round. Stauber was on a short-leash, as he lost Game One in the next round to the Vancouver Canucks and was along for the ride with the Kings going to the Stanley Cup Finals, but losing to the Montreal Canadiens.
The good times wouldn't last as Stauber struggled in the 1993-94 season, going 4-11-5 with the Kings, which saw him get demoted again to the Roadrunners, where he would go 1-1-0 in his three appearances. With the shortened 1994-95 season, Stauber would only play one game for the Kings, in relief, and getting a no-decision. It was his last showing in the Kings uniform.
On Valentine's Day of 1995, Stauber and the Kings broke up, as Stauber, Alexei Zhitnik, Charlie Huddy, and a 5th round pick were traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Grant Fuhr, Philippe Boucher, and Denis Tsygurov. Stauber would play six games for the Sabres, this time backing up Dominik Hasek; where he would go 2-3-0 in his games. The 1995-96 season would see Stauber again relegated to AHL work, this time with the Rochester Americans. Six goalies went through the Amerks that year, Stauber was one of the back-ups and went 6-7-1 in his 16 games played.
After that, Stauber would sign as a free agent with the Washington Capitals, but would stay in the AHL with the Portland Pirates for the 1996-97 season, again as a back-up. He would get 30 games in going 13-13-2. Stauber would stay in the AHL in the 1997-98 season, this time with the Hartford Wolfpack after signing with the New York Rangers. Stauber played 39 games that year, getting back to his winning form with a 20-10-6 record. However, when put into the playoffs, he was unable to help his Wolfpack going 3-4 before giving way to Dan Cloutier to take over the playoff reigns. Stauber would play five games for the Manitoba Moose in the 1998-99 season, going 2-1-1 and would hang up the pads for a bit. Stauber would play parts of three seasons in three different leagues with the Jacksonville Barracudas of the ACHL in 2002-03 (0-1-0), the WHA2 in 2003-04 (1-1-0), and then in the SPHL (2-1-0).
After his everyday playing career, Stauber would coach the University of Minnesota team as an assistant and goalie coach. He also runs the Goalcrease Training Center in Edina, Minnesota, as well as playing Bandy for the Duluth Dynamo and US National Team. Bandy is basically field hockey......ON ICE and is called "Russian hockey."
Stauber had a lot of promise coming out of his college career and had some bright spots early, but it seemed that he couldn't get a good rhythm going when he got to the pros thanks to happenstances beyond his control. At least now, like so many others, he can train the young goalies how to both physically and mentally deal with the ups and downs.