This isn’t a plea to New Jersey Devils‘ goaltender Martin Brodeur. No one expects him to put on a Philadelphia Flyers‘ uniform, at any future point, and lead the team to its third Stanley Cup. But, whenever the Flyers have faced-off against their division rival in more recent seasons the team has seen its dream on the opposite end of the ice.
Long-time, hardcore fans vividly recall Ron Hextall’s brilliant 1986-87 season. It was during that campaign that “Hexy” led his team to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final against the Edmonton Oilers. A goaltender of his caliber, who rightfully gained the Conn Smythe Trophy in a losing cause, is obviously far more likely to help a team gain the silver chalice than someone who is simply good enough to be in the National Hockey League.
After first appearing in the NHL for four games during the 1991-92 season, Brodeur became part of three championship Devils’ squads. Whenever a team knows that a future Hall of Famer is on the ice and that man is their goalie to boot, its confidence level is naturally high.
Considering the Flyers seemingly endless pursuit of their third championship (last having won the Stanley Cup in 1975), it’s easy to conclude that inconsistent goaltending has primarily created the dearth. Any deep digital analysis related to management, coaching, defense, the forward lines or the competition through the ages is relevant. But, anyone who believes that Philadelphia wouldn’t have at least earned its third Stanley Cup (and possible one, or two more) with Brodeur between the pipes for his entire career is simply choosing to avoid reasonable logic.
Whoever backstops the Flyers next successful championship drive will likely need to channel Bernie Parent, Brodeur or a similar great hockey man during four playoff series.