Saturday, 14 March 2009

Marty Day In Canada

Martin Brodeur's assault on the NHL record books over his career is something we may not see again for a very long time. Tonight in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Brodeur has the chance to tie NHL legend Patrick Roy for the most career wins in NHL history with 551 against the Canadiens. With the way the Devils have been playing, it's almost a given that Brodeur will grab a piece of history in La Belle Province, but that's why they play the games - anything can happen. However, the story of Martin Brodeur starts back with his dad, Denis Brodeur, who also played in the 1956 Winter Olympics. Martin's pedigree has been well-documented, but let's take a look at the highlights that got Brodeur to where he is today.

  • Denis Brodeur backstopped Team Canada to a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy. Canada went 3-0 in Group A round-robin play, including a 23-0 thrashing of Austria. They scored 30 goals-for compared to only one goal-against in the three games against Germany, Austria, and Italy. Italy, for what it's worth, scored the only goal that Canada gave up.
  • In the final round-robin, Canada went 3-2 to finish third out of six teams and secure the bronze medal. Canada defeated Czechoslovakia by a 6-3 score, Germany by a 10-0 score, and Sweden by a 6-2 score. Canada lost to the Americans 4-1, and to the Soviet Union by a 2-0 score. Despite being an Olympic medallist, Mr. Brodeur's legacy would actually come later when Marty was growing up. Denis Brodeur became one of the greatest sports photographers in Montreal history, and Martin was allowed to tag along to see the powerful Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s practice and play.
  • Martin was born to Denis and Mireille Brodeur on May 6, 1972 in Montreal, Quebec. The scrappy kid actually started his hockey career as a forward in Quebec, not a goaltender.
  • Brodeur was drafted 20th overall at the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils from St. Hyacinthe Laser of the QMJHL. His numbers weren't overly impressive in the QMJHL, but the Devils could see the potential of Brodeur.
  • He spent the 1991-92 season in the AHL with the Utica Devils, his only stop ever in the AHL. In 32 games, Brodeur posted a 14-13-5 record in the regular season with 4.03 GAA and no shutouts.
  • Since 1993, Brodeur has been a fixture on the Devils' roster. Outside of this season and not including the strike-shortened season, Brodeur hasn't played in less than 67 games since 1994. In that season, Brodeur split the goaltending duties with Chris Terreri. Brodeur appeared in 47 games while Terreri appeared in 44. He went a sparkling 27-11-8 with a 2.40 GAA and three shutouts en route to winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie-of-the-Year. Martin Brodeur had arrived.
  • The next year, Brodeur played in 40 of the 48 games of the strike-shortened season, but a distinct lack of scoring hurt the Devils. They made the playoffs as the 5th-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, but were thought to have scoring problems that would plague them in the playoffs. Martin Brodeur proved that scoring wouldn't be a problem.
  • In the first round, New Jersey defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 to win the series. Three of the four New Jersey wins were by shutout. New Jersey continued to roll in Round Two as they eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. Pittsburgh only scored eight goals in five games. In the Conference Final, New Jersey dispatched the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. The Flyers only scored more than two goals twice (both wins).
  • The Devils advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final to play the Detroit Red Wings. In one of the most shocking Final in history, the Devils swept the regular season champion Detroit Red Wings to win their first Stanley Cup. In another brilliant display of goaltending, Brodeur held the high-powered Red Wings offence to a mere seven goals in four games.
  • The 1995-96 would be a frustrating one for Brodeur and the Devils. They made history as the first Stanley Cup Champion team to miss the playoffs the following year. Brodeur played in 77 games, establishing a new record for minutes played by a goaltender, but it would be a long summer before the next season starts.
  • The 1996-97 season saw the Devils rise to third in the Eastern Conference. In the first round of the playoffs against Montreal, Martin Brodeur became the second goaltender in NHL history to score a goal in the playoffs on April 17, 1997. New Jersey wins the game 5-2.

  • The Devils wouldn't win the Stanley Cup in 1997, but Brodeur posted the lowest GAA at 1.88 that season, earning him his first William M. Jennings Trophy.
  • 1998 saw the Devils finish first in the Eastern Conference earning them a date with the Ottawa Senators in the first round. In Game Six - a game I was at - the Ottawa Senators eliminated the heavily-favoured New Jersey Devils. Brodeur earned his second William M. Jennings Trophy with a 1.89 GAA.
  • Brodeur was named to the Canadian Olympic team that headed to Nagano, Japan, but never saw the ice. Patrick Roy had demanded that he start every game, and Brodeur watched every game from the press box.
  • 1999 ended the same way that the 1998 season did - a first-round loss to an 8th-place team. This time, the Pittsburgh Penguins turned the trick against the Devils.
  • In 2000, Martin Brodeur became the second goaltender to score in both the regular season and the playoffs when he was credited with a goal on February 15, 2000 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Simon Gagne accidentally put the puck in his own net during a delayed penalty call, and Brodeur was the last Devils player to have touched the puck. Brodeur became the only goaltender in NHL history to score a game-winning goal as the Devils went on to defeat the Flyers 4-2. The 1999-2000 season ended in success as the Devils won their second Stanley Cup after beating the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, and Dallas Stars to win hockey's Holy Grail.
  • Brodeur had another successful season in 2001, leading the Devils back to the Stanley Cup Final. However, they ran into a strong Colorado Avalanche team, and were defeated in seven games. Brodeur topped the 40-win mark for the third time in his career during the regular season, and was a nominee for most of the major awards at the end of the season.
  • The 2001-02 season saw Brodeur struggle slightly as his record dipped to a 38-26-9 mark. The Devils ended up sixth in the Eastern Conference, and were dispatched by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs by a 4-2 margin.
  • The 2002 season also offered Brodeur a chance to redeem himself at the Olympic competition, but he was chosen as the backup to Curtis Joseph. After Joseph's shaky start against Sweden, Brodeur was called upon and didn't look back. He went undefeated in the tournament, and had the best GAA of all the goaltenders. He stopped 31 of 33 shots in the final against the USA to give Canada its first gold medal in men's hockey in 50 years.
  • The 2002-03 season saw Brodeur return to form as he backstopped the New Jersey Devils to their third Stanley Cup. Brodeur established a new shutout record in the playoffs with seven, breaking the mark of six held by Dominik Hasek. For his regular-season play, Brodeur finally was awarded the Vezina Trophy. He also was awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy for the third time in his career.
  • The 2003-04 season saw Brodeur reproduce the same results as the previous season: Vezina and Jennings Trophies. The Devils were eliminated from the playoffs by their divisional rival in the Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils had finished one point behind the Flyers for the Atlantic Division title in the regular season, and could not avenge the loss in the playoffs. However, he would have his revenge soon enough.
  • At the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, Brodeur was stellar. Despite missing the semi-final due to a wrist injury, Team Canada won the tournament with Brodeur in the nets.
  • 2006-07 and 2007-08 saw two more Vezina Trophies added to Martin Brodeur's collection.
  • December 9, 2006 - Brodeur passes Ed Belfour for 2nd-place all-time for wins with 462 after the Devils defeat the Flyers by a 2-0 score.
  • February 1, 2007 - Brodeur passes Patrick Roy for first overall in career overtime wins with 45 after the Devils defeat the Flyers by a 6-5 margin in overtime.
  • April 5, 2007 - Brodeur breaks the single-season win record by winning his 48th game of the season to break Glenn Hall's record. The Devils defeated the Flyers by a 3-2 score.
  • November 17, 2007 - Brodeur becomes the second goaltender to record 500 wins after the Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers by a 6-2 score.
  • March 1, 2009 - Brodeur records his 100th career shutout, putting him three back of Terry Swachuk's record 103 shutouts. The Devils beat - as you may have guessed - the Philadelphia Flyers by a 3-0 score.
  • Brodeur is a 10-time NHL All-Star, and has co-authored a book that was featured on this blog called Beyond The Crease.
Undoubtedly, if there is one goaltender who has done the most over the last two decades, it is Martin Brodeur. He has remained relatively healthy, allowing him to chase some of hockey's greatest records, and he has maintained his high-level of play. I can conclusively say that Martin Brodeur is the best goaltender of the NHL's modern era.

And he continues writing history tonight. I'll be watching that game!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He did it! Not that there was any doubt he'd get there :-)

Definitely very happy. He'll make a great roll model for future Canadian goalies. A better one than Roy, I think...