Last night, Marty Brodeur broke the record for career wins by an NHL goalie surpassing former Canadiens/Avs goalie Patrick Roy. On St. Patrick's day, no less. He did it quicker than Roy and he looks like he'll rack up quite a few more before its all said and done. You could make the argument that Brodeur is the greatest goalie in the history of the NHL. You COULD, but you'd be wrong.
I don't mean to rain the parade of Marty's great accomplishment. He is, without a doubt, the best goalie in the NHL right now. If I could pick any active goalie in the NHL going into a 7 game series, I would pick Brodeur without hesitation. Of all the goalies currently in the NHL, no one has won more trophies or championships. He is the best today, but not of all time. Those that want to anoint Brodeur "Lord of the Goaltenders" now because he owns the all time wins record, have very bad and very short memories.
Damien Cox, a columnist for The Toronto Star, seems to think that 5 years from now there won't be a debate and that Brodeur will unquestionably be the greatest goaltender of all time. Conveniently, he glosses over the fact that Brodeur has played for defensive minded New Jersey and had some of the greatest blueliners of the time (Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer) playing in front of him. He also states, "...for someone to argue somewhere down the line that there was a better NHL goalie will mean essentially ignoring the record book and relying totally on opinion or aesthetics." Or the fact that Roy beat Brodeur head to head in the Finals. It's okay, as a columnist knowing all the facts isn't really that important. Hey, you may want to cover your mouth, the room you're reading this in is suddenly started to fill up with sarcasm.
Patrick Roy is the greatest goalie of all time. It cannot be disputed. His butterfly style of goaltending inspired a new generation of goalies, including Brodeur, to idolize and mimic him that changed goaltending forever. Roy showed his greatness from the moment he entered the NHL in 1985. As a rookie, he led the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup at just the age of 20 and he wasn't just there for the ride either. He won the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. Roy went on to win that award two more times. Once in 1993, when he defeated Wayne Gretzky and the LA Kings. Then again in 2001, when he out dueled Marty Brodeur and the Devils to win his 4th Stanley Cup and his record setting 3rd Conn Smythe trophy. Roy currently owns the record for playoff wins with 151 and playoff shutouts with 23. He was a big game goaltender. When the game was on the line, he was on his game. The bigger the game, the taller the 6'2" goaltender stood. As a die hard Wings fan, I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly frustrating it was to watch them play against Roy. The Wings could dominate the play for the entire game and still lose, simply because Roy just didn't give up anything. He was that good. He was a one man defense and made so many big incredible saves, you started to wonder how this guy ever lost. Roy retired in 2003 after posting the second best numbers of his career. In 2004, Roy was selected as the greatest goalie in NHL history by a panel of 41 writers, with Roy receiving 19 votes. The next closest to him was Hasek with 7 votes. Then in 2006, he was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Its one thing to be excited about a great player breaking the record of another great player, but let's not go overboard here. Brodeur is the best goalie in the league right now and will be considered one of the greatest of all time when he retires, but a lot of people are getting caught up in the moment and forgetting the greatness of the older players.