It’ll be interesting to view how historians eventually handle Martin Brodeur’s fall from glory at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The 37-year-old goaltending great was shaky in two games for Canada, a 3-2 shootout win against Switzerland and a 5-3 loss to the United States. Most people’s post-mortems after the loss to the U.S. involved Canada needing to switch to Roberto Luongo. Some closet critics even proclaimed cries of why didn’t they go with Luongo the entire tournament.
We all know what happened next. Canada got going with Luongo as the solid beneficiary and Brodeur on the bench. Who knows, it probably would have been the same result had Brodeur been between the pipes the entire way. We’ll never know.
So with this blemish on Brodeur’s illustrious career, how will hockey historians view his status among the game’s all-time greats?
Brodeur is a Hall of Famer, without a doubt, on the first ballot. Had the Hockey Hall of Fame not done away with the immediate entry clause a decade ago – Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky were the last to get inducted the same year they retired – Brodeur would be fast tracked without the three-year wait.
But the question remains, how will Brodeur’s failure at the Olympics affect his placement in the top five or six all-time goalies?
Had Brodeur been the starter on another Olympic gold-medal team, that would have made two, to go along with three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies, with probably another three or four seasons to play. By the time Brodeur retires, he’ll be miles ahead of Patrick Roy in all-time wins and Terry Sawchuk in all-time shutouts, with no one threatening for at least another decade.
Would this have been enough to slot Brodeur No. 1 ahead of the likes of Roy, Dominik Hasek, Sawchuk, Glenn Hall and Jacques Plante? Does it even matter Brodeur fell out of bed at the Olympics? Will it matter how Brodeur plays in the eighth and ninth innings of his career? Will historians take status marks away from him for a substandard Olympic performance and a couple of middling seasons should they unfold for Brodeur?
Not sure, we’ll have to wait and see. The Hockey News is planning a special fall magazine titled something like The Greatest Players of All-Time…by position. So we’ll see what experts are thinking right now. Stay tuned.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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