To think that the image to the left was where the master of goaltending got his start. Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils broke into the league wearing #29, and has since demolished the majority of records set by the masters before him. Players like Sawchuk, Roy, Hasek, and Esposito have stood in the nets before him, but no one stands taller than Martin Brodeur tonight as he finally broke Terry Sawchuk's record for shutouts in a career with his 104th blanking. It's one thing for a goaltender to break a record that has stood for nearly 40 years, but when that goaltender holds or shares a number of all-time records? Brodeur has to be considered the greatest goaltender of this generation, and maybe of all generations.
Drafted 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1990 from the Ste. Hyacinthe Laser of the QMJHL, there are probably a number of teams who should have opted for the perennial NHL all-star over their picks. They include:
- New York Islanders - selected Scott Scissons 6th overall. Played 2 NHL games recording no points.
- Calgary - selected Trevor Kidd 11th overall. Kidd was the first goalie picked, but ended playing in only 387 NHL games.
- New York Rangers - selected Michael Stewart 13th overall. Never made the NHL, bounced around the minor leagues before playing out his career in Europe.
- Hartford Whalers - selected Mike Greig 14th overall. Greig played 135 NHL games, recording 17 goals and 23 assists.
- Edmonton Oilers - selected Scott Allison 17th overall. Allison never appeared in the NHL, playing his career out in the minors and in Europe.
- Vancouver Canucks - selected Shawn Antoski 18th overall. Antoski recorded three goals and five assists in 183 NHL games.
Besides Kidd and Brodeur, the other goaltenders selected in 1990 were Felix Potvin (31st- TML), Mike Dunham (53rd - NJD), Mike Lenarduzzi (57th - HAR), David Goverde (91st - LAK), Todd Bojcun (100th - BUF), Greg Louder (101st - EDM), Mike Bales (105th - BOS), Denis Casey (110th - PIT), Roman Turek (113th - MIN), Jeff Levy (134th - MIN), Mike Power (143rd - EDM), Shawn Murray (167th - CAL), Pat Mazzoli (169th - QUE), Robert Horyna (178th - TML), Parris Duffus (180th - STL), Corey Schwab (200th - NJD), Jon Hillebrandt (202nd - NYR), Tommy Soderstrom (214th - PHI), and JP McKersie (239th - MIN).
If you examine that list closely, the three goaltenders selected by New Jersey in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft - Brodeur, Dunham, and Schwab - played a total of 1675 NHL games over their careers. The other 17 goalies from that draft year? 1444 games, with the majority coming from four men: Kidd, Potvin, Turek, and Soderstrom.
However, Brodeur has the most career games out of all of those goaltenders by a wide margin, and holds all of the major career achievements and has captured a number of accolades. Brodeur won his emergency call-up debut after both Chris Terreri and Craig Billington were felled by injuries in 1991. Brodeur started against the Boston Bruins, and won the contest by a 4-2 score. He played in one playoff game that year with the Devils after spending the majority of the season with the AHL's Utica Devils.
In 1993-94, he won the starting job in New Jersey. Brodeur led the Devils to the second-best record in the NHL, and took the team to the Eastern Conference Final before falling to the New York Rangers in seven games. Because of his strong season, Brodeur was awarded the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.
The following season saw a strike shorten the season to 48 games, and the Devils finished fifth in their conference. However, their intense checking style - the trap - allowed them to change the dynamics of the game in the playoffs. Brodeur shut out the Bruins in the first round in three of the four games, and was stellar against the Penguins in knocking them off in five games. After Philadelphia was dispatched in six games, the Devils held the high-powered Detroit offense to a mere seven goals in the four-game sweep, earning their first Stanley Cup ever.
Amongst his various accolades, he has set incredible records:
- Youngest goaltender to 300, 400, and 500 career wins.
- Only goaltender to win 400 games with the same team.
- Most 40-win seasons by a goaltender with seven.
- 12 straight seasons with 30+ wins from 1995 to 2008.
- 11 straight seasons with 35+ wins from 1996 to 2008.
- March 17, 2009 saw Brodeur win his 552nd game, breaking Patrick Roy's record of 551 career wins.
- November 27, 2009 saw Brodeur play the most minutes ever, breaking Patrick Roy's record of 60,235 minutes.
- December 21, 2009 saw Brodeur earn his 104th shutout, breaking Terry Sawchuk's record of 103 career shutouts.
- Most overtime victories with 45 in his career.
- Most games played by an NHL goaltender (and counting).
- Only NHL goaltender to score a game-winning goal.
- Only one of two goaltenders to score a goal in both the regular season and the playoffs.
- Most wins in a season with 48 in 2006-07.
- Most minutes played in a season with 4697 in 2006-07.
- Most shutouts in a playoff year with 7 (2002-03).
- Only goaltender to have recorded three shutouts in two separate playoff series.
- Tied with Patrick Roy for most career playoff shutouts with 23.
- Tied with Frank McCool for Stanley Cup Final shutouts with 3.
- Holds over 30 franchise records for goaltending.
- Three-time Stanley Cup Champion (1995, 2000, 2003).
- Four-time Vezina Trophy winner ('03, '04, '07, '08).
- Four-time Jennings Trophy winner ('97, '98, '03, '04).
- Calder Trophy winner (1994).
- 2002 Olympic gold medal.
- 2004 World Cup of Hockey Championship.
- Ten-time NHL All-Star.
- Author of Beyond The Crease.
Is there any doubt that this man is not only a shoo-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but perhaps the greatest goaltender to have ever played?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!