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Loose Change: The Great Goalie Debate

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

And so it begins.

Martin Brodeur’s recent assault on the NHL record books (in actual fact it’s the records themselves he’s attacking; the books are safe) will once again raise the inane and totally pointless argument over who is the best ever.

In this case, we (apparently) need to determine the greatest National Hockey League goaltender of all-time, as if aliens are due to land here shortly and it’s our job, as their human hosts, to show them around a little and get them acquainted with the place (“you don’t want to eat that plant because it’ll send you into violent convulsions and, oh yeah, Patrick Roy’s the greatest goalie we’ve ever had”).

Why is it we feel so compelled to enter into this sort of meaningless debate? You think historians rank generals? “Napoleon? Hardly. His attrition rate isn’t even in the top 10.”

What we get is a bunch of morons sitting around a room, flinging statistics at each other like they’re a ninja’s throwing stars, hoping one of them will slice into the conversation’s jugular and forever end the discussion.

I have news for you: It doesn’t end.

In this argument you’ll have at least four camps, thereby already violating Ultimate Rule No. 1 in The Idiot’s Guide to Debating – a debate needs just two (and only two) sides.

Ignoring that unfortunate transgression and continuing with the previous train of thought, Side No. 1 will be the Patrick Roy lobby and Side No. 2 will be the Martin Brodeur lobby. This, of course, brings up another obvious debate over why Patrick gets the No. 1 seed and Martin is relegated to No. 2. In this particular instance we’ll arrange by seniority (although there is a good argument to made for an alphabetical seeding, in which case Mr. Brodeur gets the No. 1).

Position No. 3 is taken by those who support Terry Sawchuk’s claim to the title of Greatest Goaltender Ever. This lobby won’t be as large, but you’ll be able to spot them simply by the overwhelming aroma of Ben Gay wafting through the room. I don’t mean to imply that Mr. Sawchuk’s defenders are all older people, but the man played his final game almost 40 years ago, so anyone with an accurate frame of reference might also make strange snapping noises when they walk.

Position No. 4 is the wild card in this contest. This lobby is much like that unruly patron who’s spent way too much time nesting up at the bar. Management wants him to leave and call it a night, but he’s just too obnoxious and riled up to have it done peacefully, so we just sit there and let him yell out his incoherent (and flimsy) arguments as to why the Greatest Goaltender Ever is George Hainsworth, Eddie Belfour or someone with the nickname Lumpy, Tiny or one of the other Seven Dwarf names rejected by Walt Disney in his first draft of that epic children’s story.

Lobbies three and four will fall by the wayside early simply because their cases are supported and argued solely by a gaggle of nerds who have doled out more meaningless statistics to prove their contention that Harry Lumley was cheated out of 78 wins in an evil conspiracy co-authored by Clarence Campbell and Lee Harvey Oswald.

This leaves us back where we started, with Roy versus Brodeur. Sure Patrick has more Stanley Cups, but Martin has more Vezinas. Brodeur won the Calder Trophy, but Roy has three Conn Smythe Trophies. Patrick was traded, while Marty has only played in New Jersey (an accomplishment in itself) all his professional life. Blah blah blah blah blah…

This debate is like The Energizer Bunny on a binge - it goes on forever.

Your only hope is to change the rules. Forget goals-against averages and save percentages. Forget wins and shutouts. Forget about stupid trophies and all-star whatevers. Think outside the box. Then you can crown your champion.

Did somebody say Swimsuit competition?

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Tuesday only on Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at


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