Most goalies will tell you the stat they care about above all others is wins. And, barring injury, when Martin Brodeur ends his career, he will have more than anyone in NHL history. He’ll likely also be the king of shutouts and already has a resume dotted with other accolades, awards and outstanding achievements. It’s not far-fetched to say he may end up the most decorated goalie ever.
So why is it so few people believe he’ll one day wear the crown as the No. 1 goalie of all-time?
Because for most hockey-watchers, this debate is less about the numbers game and more about gut feeling, memories, reputation and perception. That’s what I discovered when addressing the subject in a recent edition of The Hockey News.
I asked Nicolas Chabot of Fantasy Sports Services to help compile a statistical comparison of the two greats and here’s what he came up with (stats are through Nov. 22):
GAA NHL Leader (RS)
Wins NHL Leader (RS)
Shots faced/60 min
Playoff OT record
(RS) – regular season
* – does not reflect shootout
If Brodeur plays until he’s 38 and maintains his career pace, he’ll retire with approximately 600 wins, about 50 more than Roy, the current leader. He should also be able to surpass Terry Sawchuk’s shutout mark of 103. All bets are off as far as awards, championships and all-star berths are concerned, but his body of work to this point shines mightily.
Yet the perception persists he still has to do more to eclipse Roy (and for some, Hasek and Sawchuk).
For many, it’s about Roy the playoff legend: Three Conn Smythe trophies and two heroic Stanley Cup performances for the Canadiens (1986 and 1993). In ’93, he went 10-1 in overtime in the post-season, a record that defies even the longest of odds. He had an astounding .690 winning percentage in playoff sudden death and 25 percent of his spring victories came in OT. At his height, Roy was magic.
There also persists a notion that Brodeur, as good as he is, has benefited from “Devils hockey” a system in which trapping, counter-punching and being ultra-responsible defensively have been paramount. In addition, he has played much of his career behind two of the greatest blueliners of our generation, Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens, which some observers hold against him. One of my colleagues went so far as to say that if the Devils had another “very good, but not spectacular” goalie in net the past 15 years, they still would have won their Cups.
And in the goalies’ home province, the debate apparently isn’t even close. “Ask anyone in Quebec,” says Chabot, “and they’ll pick Roy.”
We’d love to hear what you think. Should Brodeur be penalized for playing behind a good defense? At the end of his career, should his numbers be enough to make him No. 1? Or does the Legend of St. Patrick overshadow all?