When the New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Sunday night, Martin Brodeur earned career win number 650. Already the NHL’s All-Time winningest goalie in history, the victory was more than just another feather in Marty’s cap. Brodeur actually set himself apart from other great athletes in professional sports.
Besides occupying the top spot in wins, he owns countless other records including most regular season shutouts and most playoff shutouts to go along with his four Vezina’s and three Stanley Cup’s. He truly is a hockey legend in every sense of the term but should he be considered one of the greatest athletes ever to play a professional sport?
As sports nuts we spend hours of lives sifting through box scores, stat sheets and endless waves of facts and figures. We validate a professional athlete’s career through the individual numbers, percentages and averages they accumulate throughout the course of their playing days. And as a sports fan, one cannot look at Brodeur and career win number 650 without marveling at the sheer magnitude of the milestone.
I decided to peruse the record books of the other major sports to see just how significant Brodeur’s win total was and I was surprised to see just how difficult it was to reach 650 of anything in any of the major sports.
Take baseball for example….Major League Baseball has been around for over 140 years and is probably best known for the endless supply of statistics that are produced. Did you know there are only FOUR baseball players in history that have over 650 homeruns (Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, Mays)? Furthermore did you know there is not a single pitcher in MLB history even close to 550 wins, let alone 650! In fact the only pitcher with over 500 wins is Cy Young with 511.
In the NFL Brett Favre leads the NFL is touchdown passes thrown with 508. Favre’s career wins? 186…which is the most in NFL history by a starting QB. Jerry Rice has the most career touchdown receptions with 208 and Emmitt Smith the most rushing TD’s with 168. Obviously a very far cry for Brodeur’s magic number. Yes they play less games but you get my point.
And just in case you do not get my point – think of it this way – with his next win, the future Hall-of-Fame goalie will have exactly 100 more wins than the retired Patrik Roy. Roberto Luongo is the next closest active goalie with 335 career victories. That is over 300 wins less than Brodeur. The 32-year-old Luongo would have to average more than 30 wins a season for the next ten years just to keep pace.
Despite losing to the Flyers on Tuesday night Brodeur is having a tremendous season and has hinted that he is not quite finished yet and may return for another season or two. This is not just good news for Devils fans but its good news for hockey fans in general. With every win Brodeur only helps grow his legendary status and further separate himself as the greatest goaltender and perhaps the greatest athlete to have ever lived.
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