All-Decade Team Goalie: Can anyone challenge Martin Brodeur?

Among hockey’s great minds (and my name is not on that list … hopefully mine is at least on the list of “people who can function and happen to enjoy the NHL”), the importance and relevance of statistics is of considerable debate. For the most part, my allegiance is somewhere down the middle.

Sometimes it’s just flat out difficult to deny dominance. When it comes to sheer quantity from the seasons ’99-00 to current day, no other goaltender comes within spitting distance of Martin Brodeur.

His numbers are just staggering. On these numbers alone, you could quite possibly have a Hall of Fame career:
  • 343 wins
  • 62 shutouts,
  • approximate save pct. 91.3%
  • at least 70 GPs every year except 2008-09
  • Two Stanley Cups
  • 5 All-Star appearances
  • 4 Vezina trophies
  • 2 Jennings GAA trophies
  • three time First Team All-Star

There isn’t another goalie who approaches many of those totals. Some, like Dominik Hasek, saw their best days before the turn of the century. Others, like Henrik Lundqvist, came along too late or have yet to enter their prime.

That being said, Brodeur has had his fair share of detractors in his career. Certainly, the Devils are enjoying a considerable amount of success with their famous goaltender nursing an injury. Some say that Brody simply was in the right place at the right time, a solid goaltender who happened to luck into New Jersey’s suffocating trap defense.

One of the most reasonable and interesting critics of Brodeur is The Contrarian Goaltender, who runs the aptly titled (and regularly fascinating) blog Brodeur is a Fraud. We had the pleasure of exchanging an e-mail on the subject of Brodeur as goaltender of the decade, and while admitting that ” … the time frame (99-00 to present) does line up pretty well for Brodeur, since all his main rivals from the 1990s retired in that period” the CG says that the one goalie who may stand a chance is Roberto Luongo:

“I tend to place a greater importance on individual save stats than team success, as well as a heavier weighting on peak play than longevity, and I generally distrust goalie award voting. All of these are reasons to pick Luongo over Brodeur. I think save percentage is the best goalie stat, and according to that stat Luongo was the best goalie of the decade (.919 save percentage compared to .914 for Brodeur, with Luongo likely facing tougher shots on average). I think Luongo’s 2003-04 season was quite possibly the best single season by any goalie between 2000 and 2008. Brodeur’s best season was unquestionably 2006-07, and yet I would have given my Vezina vote to Luongo that season. Brodeur has the quantity, team success, and award voting, but in my view Luongo has the superior quality.

… Brodeur is definitely the safe choice and the consensus opinion, but if it was my call I’d go with Luongo.”

Throughout this process, the main things I’ve been focusing on revolve around stats, peak years and awards although other subjective and outside influences will come into effect.

This is part of the reason I’m putting together a “secret tribunal” to ultimately decide this All-Decade Team. Any of the other contributors are welcome to base their decisions on any number of factors (the only rule: consider the time frame of 99-00 to current).

It will be interesting to see what kind of debates spring up along the way. So, what do you say: is Brodeur a no-brainer or is Luongo a better goalie stuck on lesser teams?

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2 Responses to “All-Decade Team Goalie: Can anyone challenge Martin Brodeur?”

  1. Tom Says:

    Nobody touches Brodeur. He’s going to end up being recognized as greatest-ever, and the past 10 years were his heyday (though his early-career stats were a little better).

  2. jamestobrien Says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if goaltender is a category for dark horses…

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