Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TVOS and Fan-Tastic Sports: The Wins Keep Coming - Martin Brodeur Reaches 650 Wins

Every Wednesday, I share my thoughts from inside the NHL Alumni Association and from around today’s NHL at Peter Ing and Bryce Salvador’s Fan-tastic Sports XHockey blog. This week’s article - New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur reaches 650 regular season victories.

The Wins Keep Coming - Martin Brodeur Reaches 650 Wins!
New Jersey Devils Goaltender
Martin Brodeur
(Photo - Andrew Rodger TVOS)
With a 4-1 victory on Sunday versus the Philadelphia Flyers, the New Jersey Devils moved into a tie with the Flyers for 5th place in the Eastern Conference standings. While it may be difficult to catch up to the New York Rangers for first in the Atlantic Division, the win helped tighten their grasp on a playoff position this spring. Sunday’s win also marked another milestone in the marvellous career of goaltender Martin Brodeur. Stopping 18 of 19 shots for the win, the future Hall of Famer won his 650th career game.

Selected by New Jersey in the first round (20th overall) in the 1990 NHL Draft, Brodeur has played in 1,180 regular season games - all with the Devils. The 10-time All-Star and 3-time Stanley Cup champion’s career record in the NHL is an astounding 650-367-105-35 (W-L-T-OT). His Stanley Cups have plenty of company in his trophy case too, with four Vezina trophies as the league’s top goaltender, five Jennings trophies for fewest goals against, the 1994 Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, two Olympic gold medals and numerous NHL records and accolades. You can also add another unique accomplishment to his lengthy list - his goal-scoring prowess. He is one of the two goalies to have scored a goal during the regular season and the playoffs (Ron Hextall is the other).

As the wins continue to pile up for Brodeur, the possibility that another goaltender will someday break his record for most career victories diminishes. The closest to Brodeur in the career wins category amongst active goaltenders is Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo - he is tied for 17th all-time with Gump Worsley with 335 wins (as of Monday). Luongo has had a tremendous career himself, but the longer Brodeur continues to play, the record for all-time regular season wins climbs further out of reach.

Brodeur set the record in March of 2009 when he surpassed Patrick Roy’s mark of 551 wins; he has added 99 more wins since then. As I wrote at the time in an article entitled “A Devil Reaches Sainthood” at my website, The Voice of Sport, a Hollywood scriptwriter could not have created a better story than what Brodeur wrote himself when he tied Roy’s record.

When you consider the number of games he had played, what are the chances that the Montreal native would have the opportunity to equal Patrick Roy’s record in Montreal at the Bell Centre? With the former Montreal and Colorado goalie known as “St. Patrick” in attendance, as well as 21,000 hockey fans, Brodeur backstopped the Devils to a 3-1 victory that evening for his 551st career win. It was one of the few times that I can remember a visiting player leaving the ice in Montreal to a lengthy standing ovation. The long-time Devil would break St. Patrick’s record in his next game, a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 17th - St. Patrick’s Day!

While Brodeur does not carry the entire workload as he did earlier in his career, when he would regularly play in 75, 76, or 77 games each season, he is on pace to equal last year’s total and play in approximately 56 games. Sharing the net minding duties with Johan Hedberg will mean that Brodeur is refreshed and ready for the playoffs, which is not good news for his opponents in the Eastern Conference.

There will always be a debate about who is the greatest of all-time, but with 650 regular season wins and counting, there is no doubt that Martin Brodeur is at or near the top of the list with St. Patrick and the other goaltending legends and pioneers of the game.

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