Great Brodeur article
Posted 25 February 2004 - 05:15 PM
Brodeur Stalking Roy 30 Wins At A Time
By George Johnson
Special to ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Perhaps because it has become so old hat, such standard fare, all but taken as a given when the New Jersey Devils convene for training camp each September, is why the achievement hasn't received the trumpet blasts, the banner headlines, and the warm accolades it deserves.
Tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, Martin Brodeur goes in search of his 30th win for a ninth consecutive season. No one -- not Patrick, not Terry, not Mr. Goalie, not the Dominator, no one -- can match that.
This should be something shouted from the highest rooftops. This is a big deal. Or, at least, should be.
But in the quiet, reserved Martin Brodeur way, and the understated, distant, team-first way of the Devils, the record milestone has arrived with little fanfare.
"Oh, I'm proud if it," says Brodeur, having just chalked up his 29th W in a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at Continental Airlines Arena on Sunday. "No other goalie's done it, right? Patrick got to eight, I guess. I mean, it hasn't actually happened yet -- I'm still one win away -- but it's going to happen.
"It means a lot because it's all about durability and consistency and longevity. And those are things I pride myself on."
Playing in Jersey, where they can't even fill the building for a Stanley Cup championship team, hasn't helped his visibility, his marketability, any. The man has won three Stanley Cups, a Vezina Trophy and a gold medal backstopping Canada in Salt Lake City, but no one talks him up in the least mythical way as they do goalies in other cities. He doesn't crave the spotlight. He isn't outspoken like Patrick Roy, or flammable like Ed Belfour or eccentric like Dominik Hasek. The emotion runs in a wellspring inside him. He just goes out and does the job better than anyone else. He's well known, sure, but his profile doesn't begin to approach his accomplishments.
Brodeur's awesome consistency -- 34 wins in '95-96 to get the ball rolling, followed by 37, 43, 39, 43, 42, 38 and 41 -- would make him an icon in a hockey-mad town.
"No question. Can you imagine the publicity, in TWO official languages, if Marty Brodeur was playing in Montreal?'' asks Rogers SportsNet analyst John Garrett. "I hear all this crap like 'Oh, but he plays in a defensive system ...' Well, I know a lot of other goalies who play in a defensive system who can't make the big save at the big time and their teams winds up losing 2-1.
"Martin Brodeur makes the big save.
"If Lou (Lamoriello) stays there, that will continue to be a competitive team. Which means that Marty is the only one capable of breaking Patrick's records. I mean, if he continues to play the way he has -- and there's no reason to doubt that -- he has a real shot."
The consecutive 30-wins-plus mark, though, is one Patrick has lost forever.
"Darn right it's a heck of an accomplishment," chimes in Flames' head coach Darryl Sutter. "With Roy gone, this guy is head and shoulders above everyone else at the position. He's so much better than anyone else, it's a joke.
"Doing the job day in and day out, year in and year out, is what being a pro's all about. And no one does that better than Brodeur."
At the relatively tender age of 32, no one has an inkling of when, or if, Martin Brodeur is going to slow down. He's proven extremely durable despite a crushing workload, averaging just a shade under 72 starts a season since he began piecing this streak together. He's kept himself in good physical condition, his appetite for achievement isn't on the wane and playing in the East, where the travel is far less punishing than in the Western Conference, has limited the wear and tear on his body.
It's anyone's guess as to how long he can stretch this 30-plus string out. Four more years? Five? Six? Beyond?
"Who knows?" Brodeur replies, helplessly, shrugging.
He could put the 30-plus record so far out of reach no goaltender will begin to approach it in this lifetime. Or the next.
Garrett sees other reasons to believe Brodeur's run can continue on for a long while.
"For one, he's very limber. He's not like (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere, who can only play the butterfly," Garrett notes. "He adapts his game to teams he's playing, and to series the Devils' are involved in.
"The other thing is that his teammates love playing for the guy. You never, ever, see Martin Brodeur pointing fingers or criticizing teammates in the papers. Never. There's no arrogance, like with Patrick, who'd practically point his stick at someone who made a mistake in front of him. Marty Brodeur is always humble. He's always polite. He takes responsibility.
"Teammates just love a guy like that."
Brodeur insists that records and milestones don't drive his engine. That he'll take them when, and if, they come. One mark, however, seems to have caught his fancy.
"I was talking to Patrick a couple of years ago and he was talking about playing a thousand games as a goalie. And I thought 'Yeah, that really is something!' And he got there. So a thousand games, if I stay healthy and everything goes well, is something I'd like to achieve before I'm through."
And beyond that?
"Just keep winning," he replies, then laughs. "Hopefully, 30 games or more a year.
"I was lucky enough to get on a good team at a young age and we've grown up together.
"All the other stats, goals-against (average) and save percentage, are great for people to analyze and kick around. But only one stat really interests me. Wins. Being a good goalie means making a difference, and whether that difference comes as a key save in a 5-4 game or a 1-0 game is irrelevant.
"We're in this, I'm in this, to win."
No one at his position, or maybe any position for that matter, in today's game is as accomplished at that.
George Johnson of the Calgary Herald is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
Posted 25 February 2004 - 05:55 PM
Wow, Marty is the man, and the Calgary Herald said it right.
I will be cheering 'Do it for the record books Marty' tonight!
Posted 25 February 2004 - 09:19 PM
Marty has his head on straight:
All the other stats, goals-against (average) and save percentage, are great for people to analyze and kick around. But only one stat really interests me. Wins. Being a good goalie means making a difference, and whether that difference comes as a key save in a 5-4 game or a 1-0 game is irrelevant.
He's the perfect goalie for this team.
Posted 25 February 2004 - 10:34 PM
Posted 25 February 2004 - 10:43 PM
No other goalie in the world would fit this team like Marty does.
Posted 25 February 2004 - 11:06 PM
Posted 25 February 2004 - 11:27 PM
I know we take him for granted sometimes, but we are truly fortunate to see this future Hall of Famer, play day in day out. B)
Posted 26 February 2004 - 03:02 AM
"If you ever had to describe what a Devil player would be," said Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, "the name would be Scott Stevens."
"He was just huge," Devils left wing Patrik Elias said of walking into training camp the first time in 1995. "I was afraid of him. You had a 170-pound guy coming here and he was 220, 225 with these paws like a bear. I was pretty intimidated the first few years. I'm happy he was on my side the whole time."
Posted 26 February 2004 - 01:09 PM
"Quite frankly, all the players are getting paid too much and all the contracts are too long," general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "But if you want to compete in this market and you want to win, there are some things you have to do."
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