Saturday, 31 January 2015

Martin Brodeur retires, is compared to other greats Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek.

Kirk McLean was on TSN 1040 and had an interesting discussion with hosts Blake Price and Matt Sekeres on the giants of goaltending of the previous era, in the wake of Martin Brodeur’s retirement. They generally agreed that Marty was, within the bounds of that strict comparison, kind of the ‘automatic’ or system goalie, a superb player who gave his team a chance to win every time he was in the crease.

Patrick Roy was the most intimidating, the guy who would psych out the other team most often right off the bat, making them think they didn’t have a chance to win. Dominik Hasek was the goalie who, on the other hand, made you think you were close, the dam was about to burst, you came so close so many times, there were so many miraculous or flukey saves, that one or three was about to go in. And then as the third period went on you got frustrated and started pressing and lost heart.

A mistaken conceit held by Blake Price is that, again within the bounds of that strict comparison, Patrick Roy could get a demerit or two for being on “strong teams”, that since he was on Cup-winning teams, he was better served than Dominik Hasek with the Sabres. And a few people who didn’t go through those eighties years believe that, that Patrick Roy’s teams were stacked. They don’t understand how much Patrick meant in ’86 and ’93. Sure the Avalanche years approached sinecure level, but within reason, Patrick single-handedly took the Habs to those Cups.

I remember that overtime game against the Rangers in ’86, how giddy we all felt in the nightclub-turned-pub for the occasion, that Patrick wasn’t going to let one in, that the game was over, the Rangers knew it, we just had to wait and see how exactly the details would turn out. It was academic. The result itself wasn’t in doubt, just the stats, the copy the journos would have to write.

How Patrick stood up in the dressing room and told the team to go out and score against the Nordiques in the opening series in ’93, he’d take care of defending against them, that gets forgotten. Because he had Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg on his side later in his career, his importance and leadership when the chips were down and the series seemed lost against the Nordiques seems to be downplayed.

Being realistic, the Canadiens were a little bit of a dark horse those seasons, we got a couple breaks along the way, with the Oilers getting eliminated in '86 and the Penguins being knocked out for us in in ’93, among other powerhouses. The Canadiens weren’t bad teams, they just suffered a little bit in comparison to the dynasty Guy Lafleur-Big Three-Ken Dryden teams, the Islanders or Oiler dynasties, or the Pens with Mario and Mario Junior.

They were still very strong teams, as I was reminded watching an NHL Classic broadcast of the 1986 Stanley Cup Final Game 6 recently.  But Patrick, with his guarantees and heroics and his wink and his overtimes, he was the biggest reason by far that we won those Cups, more than say Marc-André Fleury or Chris Osgood ever were on their respective teams, or Claude Lemieux or Bobby Smith or Vincent Damphousse ever were.

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