Martin Brodeur holds most of the NHL records that relate to sustained excellence by a goaltender. At age 40, Brodeur is still adding to his records, bolstering his Hall of Fame resumé. Brodeur recorded his 120th shutout earlier this season, and appeared between the pipes for the New Jersey Devils for the 1,200th time on Saturday.
For some perspective, the all-time record for games played belongs to Gordie Howe, who played until he was 52. Granted, Howe took an eight-year hiatus from the NHL, but no skater has ever played in more than 1,767 games in the NHL. In an era of hockey where goaltenders are frequently rested, Martin Brodeur’s record exemplifies the combination of skill and endurance that makes him one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time.
Martin Brodeur amassed his record number of appearances with a rare level of stamina, unseen before in the modern NHL. From 2006-2008, Brodeur started all but nine games for the New Jersey Devils with unparalleled success. He posted a save percentage of .921 over those two seasons, tallying 92 wins with a GAA below 2.2. At age 37, Brodeur nearly replicated those numbers with 45 wins and a .916 saves percentage. If not for an injury-shortened season in 2009, Martin Brodeur would have started in 70 games or more for 12 consecutive years.
Despite the most demanding workload of any goaltender of his era, Martin Brodeur boasts a career GAA of 2.13, save percentage of .913, making more than 70,000 saves. When other players would have broken down under such high work demands, Martin Brodeur thrived.
In Brodeur’s 48-win season in 2006-07, Martin Brodeur played in the second most games of all time. Proof of his incomparable combination of stamina and ability lies in a comparison with Grant Fuhr, the lone goaltender to ever start more games in a season than Brodeur. When Brodeur started 77 games compared to Fuhr’s 78, Brodeur had five fewer losses, 18 more wins, a GAA .7 goals lower, and a save percentage 2% higher. When subject to similar playing demands, no goalie has ever been able to post anything comparable to the spectacular numbers of Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur’s 1200th game is a symbol of his longevity, but also represents his ability to sustain excellence under grueling conditions. While an argument can be made that Martin Brodeur is not the greatest goaltender of all time, it is impossible not to admire the long and skilled career of the New Jersey Devils’ legendary netminder.