With Los Angeles defeating the New Jersey Devils, the question of whether Martin Brodeur will retire or not has already flooded the internet. Whether he does or not remains to be seen. But while we wait on him, let’s revisit a question that has loomed over him for several years – “Where does Martin Brodeur rank amongst the NHL’s greatest goalies?”
To answer any such question, only three names in recent hockey history can be considered; Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek. There are no others.
STATS, BIO AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
Born: Quebec City, Quebec, on October 5th, 1965
Size: 6’1″, 210 lbs.
Highlights: From 1981 to 2003
- 18 NHL seasons
- 4 Stanley Cups
- 5 Jennings trophies
- 3 Vezina trophies
- NHL All Time playoff wins leader with 151 victories (an interesting note: The Toronto Maple Leafs only have 105 playoff wins as a franchise from 1968-2012)
- only player in NHL history to win 3 Conn Smythe awards (an award neither of the other two have won)
Born: Montreal, Quebec, on May 5th, 1972
Size: 6’2″, 216 lbs.
Highlights: From 1993 to present day
- 16 NHL seasons
- 3 Stanley Cups
- 5 Jennings trophies
- 4 Vezina trophies
- Calder Trophy
- NHL Alltime Record-holder for most regular season wins, shut outs and games played
- 112 Career Playoff Victories
- 2 Olympic Gold medals (1 as the starter)
- 1 World Cup of Hockey
- 2 goals scored
Born: Pardubice, Czecheslovakia, on January 29th, 1965
Size: 6’1″, 165 lbs.
Highlights: From 1991 to 2008
- 16 NHL seasons
- 2 Stanley Cup (one was as a back-up)
- 6 Vezina trophies (a record)
- 2 Hart trophies (first goalie to ever win two)
- 2 Pearson trophies
- 3 Jennings trophies
- 1 Olympic gold medal
- Highest career save percentage (.922)
The stats show that all three goalies are the closest thing to unbeatable that hockey has ever seen, however, it should be noted that Patrick Roy played half of his career before the 1995 season, where the amount of goals scored in the NHL were much higher than the “dead puck era” that followed. Therefore, comparing the GAA’s and Save Percentages of the goalies would be unfair and inconsequential. Further, when Roy was playing there were much fewer opportunities to represent Canada at the Olympic games, as this only became an option in 1998 as his career was winding down.
I approached the inevitable question – “Which keeper was the greatest?” – with much internal debate. To solely recognize any of these three as being a step ahead of the other two proved more difficult then I originally thought. Each offers a different skill set, they played at staggered times (Roy -> Hasek -> Brodeur), and with different defences in front of them. As mentioned earlier, Roy played during the goal-happy 80’s and early 90’s. Would I compare them based on stats alone? Would I consider the teams each represented?
The only way to breakdown these three phenomenal goaltenders is to recognize what each brought to their teams, and which had the most success given each individual’s situation. Hasek, arguably, did the best with the least to work with, which was especially true in his 1999 run with the Sabres. They took the Stars to six games, when Brett Hull scored the infamous “toe in the crease” goal, ending the Sabres season. His unorthodox ‘ fall and flail’ style certainly garnered him some critics, but it’s hard to argue that he might just be the most talented goaltender in history. His stats speak for themselves, and they don’t lie. The only knock on him is that he was only great for eight seasons, whereas the other two were dominant for much longer.
Martin Brodeur has given the Devils 75+ games in a season, and has been reliable nearly every night he has donned the pads for his entire 16-season career. In addition to his three Stanley Cups, he owns a nice mantle-full of Olympic Gold. Okay, not a mantle, but two very well-earned golds. He also was part of Canada’s 2004 World Cup gold-medal team. Marty definitely eclipses both Roy and Dom in terms of international success.
Patrick Roy was a solid wall that perfected the butterfly style, which goaltenders to this day still try to emulate. He knew how to make himself look twice as big, forcing players to shoot into him. His four Stanley Cups overshadows the other two, and if you agree that the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in professional sports to win, then you will most likely agree that Patrick Roy is the best of the bunch. Not to mention, in 2001 Roy went head-to-head with Brodeur for the Stanley Cup, which his Avalanche won over the Devils in seven games. Roy is a straight-up pressure goaltender. The most interesting stat for me is when he won the cup in 1993 he won an incredible 10 out of 11 overtime games, which is the very definition of “clutch goaltending”.
When it comes down to it, I want the best goaltender in the most pressure-filled situation. Despite Hasek’s incredible stats, I was debating between Brodeur and Roy. Both won their share of Cups, and both can win when pressure was on. Here is how I figure they rank from 1-3.
1. Patrick Roy
2. Martin Brodeur
3. Dominick Hasek
…and that is the Last Word.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to post comments below.