There is absolutely no doubt Martin Brodeur will shatter the NHL’s all-time record for wins and with the way both he and the New Jersey Devils have been playing since Brodeur returned to the lineup, he should be the victory king by early next week.
But what you might not have realized is that when Brodeur’s Hall of Fame career is all said and done, there’s a very good chance he’ll be on the top of the list for both wins and losses.
Long before Brodeur ever has to worry about breaking the mark for the most defeats, though, Curtis Joseph of the Toronto Maple Leafs has to avoid doing it himself. The league’s record for career losses is held by Gump Worsley, who piled up most of his 352 losses playing for the hapless New York Rangers. (In fact, while playing in New York, Worsley was once asked which team gave him the most trouble and his quick reply was, “The Rangers.”)
Going into Saturday night’s game against the Calgary Flames, Joseph has 350 career defeats. Whether or not he passes Worsley will depend on how the Maple Leafs choose to deploy their goaltenders the rest of the way. Barring injury, Martin Gerber will get the vast majority of the starts and the Leafs have said they plan on spotting prospect Justin Pogge into the lineup down the stretch, so inaction may save Joseph from making inauspicious history.
But back to Brodeur. Going into Saturday’s possible record-tying game against the Montreal Canadiens, Brodeur has 293 career losses. Going into this season, Brodeur had averaged 21 losses per season over the first 14 full seasons of his career. That means if he maintains that clip and plays another three full seasons, there’s a very good chance he will retire as the leader in both wins and losses.
Brodeur obviously gets full marks for all of his wins to this point in his career, but he still has some work to do if he wants to be Patrick Roy’s true equal. Of his 550 wins, Brodeur has won 27 games in shootouts, the most in the NHL. Roy did not have the opportunity to win shootout games and knowing his ability to excel when the stakes were highest, it’s safe to assume Roy would have picked up a good number of wins by that tiebreaking method.
Also, when it comes to combined regular season and playoff wins, Roy is still quite a bit ahead of Brodeur. Roy won 551 regular season games and 151 playoff games for a total of 702, while Brodeur sits at 645 total with 550 in the regular season and 95 in the playoffs.
Should Brodeur play a few more years, he will probably surpass Roy in those categories without breaking too much of a sweat. Of more immediate interest is that early next season, Brodeur will almost certainly surpass Roy on the all-time games played list for goalies. Roy played 1,029 games and Brodeur stands at 985.
If you put all goalies on an equal footing by making overtime and shootout wins ties instead of victories, here is how the top 10 would look, according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
1. Patrick Roy – 507
2. Martin Brodeur – 469
3. Terry Sawchuk – 447
4. Ed Belfour – 442
5. Jacques Plante – 437
6. Tony Esposito – 423
7. Glenn Hall – 407
8. Curtis Joseph – 401
9. Grant Fuhr – 372
10. Mike Vernon – 364
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 appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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