September 29, 2008
Mick Kern of XM Radio NHL Home Ice has put together a good little pot-stirrer of a list: The Top 30 goaltenders since 1940.
Before you totally discount the list for placing Chris Osgood over Roberto Luongo, here's the criteria: The goalie has to have been the "very best at their position during their time in the National Hockey League"; lasting success through awards or championships; and automatic name recognition as being an elite netminder.
Brodeur obviously fits the criteria; factor in that he was so good at playing the puck that the NHL actually enacted legislation to restrict it, and he's a legend.
The best of all-time? That's a hard accolade to accept when you consider the first season he faced more than 2,000 shots was in 2005-06; compare that with the shooting gallery Dominik Hasek faced during his prime seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.
In the end, there are always going to be questions about what kind of goalie Brodeur would have been in another less-defensive system, and without Stevens, Niedermayer, Rafalski and Daneyko in front of him for much of his career. It's the Tom Brady argument: Is he simply the perfect player for the system, surrounded by the right personnel? Or if we stripped all of it away, is Brodeur still the best goalie in NHL history?
And can a modern (post-1990) keeper even make a claim for that title? Because here's what Jacques Plante wore to the game.