Tue Mar 17 10:10pm EDT
As Martin Brodeur passes Patrick Roy with his 552nd career victory, via the New Jersey Devils' thrilling 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offers words of congratulations via a press release:
"Martin Brodeur is the gold standard of goaltending -- the model of character, consistency and commitment to the craft. A champion. A winner above all.
"It is difficult to imagine any player who is more universally, and deservedly, respected. The National Hockey League is extremely proud of Martin, his historic achievement and his enduring contribution to our game."
Never mind that the NHL has marketed Brodeur more in the last 72 hours than they have since 1994. Never mind that the NHL drew a trapezoid behind the crease in order to hinder one of Brodeur's god-given talents -- handling the puck. Never mind Brodeur quit the League's competition committee because his voice, the only one from a goaltender on that committee at the time, was going unheard in an offense-obsessed post-lockout League.
No, the National Hockey League is "extremely proud of Martin." Which is why it moved tonight's game to the NHL Network and blacked-out the fans that may not have NHLN but pay hard-earned cash to subscribe to Center Ice specifically for games like this. Judging from the number of emails we received on this matter, more than a few out-of-market puckheads were disenfranchised tonight. But hey, at least the NHL Network had some quality programming.
But please, do send that e-mail to Brodeur at CongratsMarty@NHL.com and read what NHL writers have to say about Marty on the League's special Brodeur Watch page. He's a special player that deserves this laudatory moment; a record-setting night that puts the spotlight on his accomplishments in a way the Cups and the Vezinas haven't before.
Martin Brodeur is the biggest story in hockey tonight. It's just a shame that it took 552 career wins before the NHL decided to market this star because he happens to keep pucks out of the net rather than putting them in.
The writer is a Devils fan. But you already knew this.