Just prior to Christmas, hockey historian Eric Zweig astutely pointed out that, while Martin Brodeur had broken the NHL’s shutout record with 104, he was actually tied with George Hainsworth for the true shutout record.
Hainsworth had 10 shutouts in the Western Canadian Hockey League and 94 in the NHL. He garnered his WCHL shutouts between 1923 and 1926, at a time when that league was every bit as good as the NHL.
Brodeur eclipsed Hainsworth Dec. 30 in a shutout against the Penguins.
Around the same time, we pointed out Brodeur was on the verge of truly putting himself on equal footing with Patrick Roy by winning his 551st NHL game without the benefit of the shootout.
Well, Brodeur did it Tuesday night when he stopped 28 shots to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars. The win was his 584th all-time, but if you subtract Brodeur’s 33 shootout wins – a method of winning Patrick Roy never had the benefit of – that puts Brodeur at 551 regulation and overtime wins in his career.
Brodeur wasn’t cutting the netting out to celebrate, but both achievements were significant. It now puts him free and clear as the best statistical goalie of all time and removes any asterisks that might have been there before.
The Florida Panthers have just two players – goalie Tomas Vokoun and defenseman Denis Seidenberg – going to the Olympics, which could be a good thing because the Panthers will generally be more rested than a lot of their opponents going down the stretch as they try to make the playoffs.
That’s at least a positive spin you can put on the situation. But the downside is you don’t have enough players who were good enough to make their Olympic teams.
“If you’re asking me whether I’d rather have a team with four Canadian Olympians on it over a team with none, I’d live with the Olympic hangover and take the guys who made the Olympic team,” said Panthers coach Peter DeBoer. “My priority is that we go into the Olympic break with an opportunity to get into the playoffs. If we are in a spot to make the playoffs, I don’t see how the rest can hurt.”
The only team with fewer Olympians is the New York Islanders, who have one, while the Edmonton Oilers also have two players going to Vancouver. The San Jose Sharks lead the league with eight and it will be interesting to see how that affects a team that has some real playoff demons of its own to slay.
(Of course, David Booth would have almost certainly made it three Olympians for the Panthers had Mike Richards not knocked him into oblivion on what the league classified as a legal hit. And don’t think for a minute Booth isn’t just a little bitter he’s not going to the Olympics and Richards is.)
The Panthers haven’t made the playoffs since 2000 and are on the outside looking in this season. The calendar likely won’t turn to April before the Panthers find out whether they make the post-season this year, but they often don’t do themselves any favors. For example, they took the Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins to overtime or shootouts three times before beating them 6-2 in early January. Then they followed that up by losing 3-2 to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs after blowing a 2-0 lead.
“These are the games you look back at when you’re watching playoff hockey and you regret,” DeBoer said. “We show up and are ready to work and commit to a game plan one night and then aren’t the next. And we’re not good enough to do that.”
HOW ABOUT SOME OBJECTIVITY?
TSN deserves an enormous amount of credit for making the World Junior Championship the frenzy it is in Canada and for providing coverage of the tournament that is outstanding.
Its in-game and post-game analysis is terrific, the production values are first-rate and the amount of information viewers receive on players they don’t know very well yet is bountiful.
And we get that they are partners with Hockey Canada in this whole thing. We really do. But does the network really have to cozy up to Hockey Canada so much that it makes it look like a shill?
The between periods interview during the gold medal game with Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson and Canadian Hockey League president Dave Branch, which was basically a five-minute infomercial extolling the virtues of both organizations, was downright embarrassing. (And this one, I’m sure, had nothing to do with the reporter. The network’s higher-ups would have dictated the focus of that interview.)
Even Hockey Night in Canada, which is often accused of being a house organ for the NHL, doesn’t do that kind of thing. Heck, even Ron McLean takes commissioner Gary Bettman at least once a year and grills him like a panini sandwich.
Of course, that wasn’t even the lowest point for TSN. That would have been when, under the supposed guise of objective journalism, it interviewed the woman who came up with the lame ‘Cheer Nation’ cheer for Canada, a boondoggle that just happened to be sponsored by Pepsi, which is a longtime sponsor of Hockey Canada. (And don’t even get us started on those Gatorade ads that masquerade as important information on the merits of hockey players staying hydrated.)
And come on. ‘Eh! O’ Canada Go!?’ That was the best they could come up with in this contest? If Canadians want to sound like a bunch of backwoods morons in front of the world, they’ll put that cheer front and center during the Olympics in Vancouver.
But hey, the first million people who sign up for Cheer Nation have a chance to have their names included in a display at the Hockey Hall of Fame!
Well, at least it turns out TSN isn’t the only one willing to sellout.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.