To Boston Bruin goaltender Manny Fernandez, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur’s breaking of Patrick Roy’s all-time wins record — which could occur Tuesday night against Chicago or any time over the next week or so now that Brodeur tied the record Saturday — is about more than just replacing the name of one great goaltender with another on the top of a list.
Fernandez thinks it’ll help Brodeur get his full due.
“He seemed to be a little bit in (Roy’s) shadow. And now he’s come around, he’s actually beating some of his records, people are starting to notice him a little more and talk about him,” Fernandez recently told TheBruinsBlog.net. “He’s a great goalie. He was born to play that sport; you can see that. He’s a guy that doesn’t get overstressed. He could be playing in a Game 7 and still look like it’s practice. That’s what you need.”
Fernandez has faced Brodeur too many times to count dating back to their days in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In the NHL, Brodeur has recorded two of his 551 victories at Fernandez’s expense (Brodeur is 2-2-1 against the Bruins netminder). Both have achieved their share of success at the game’s highest level, no matter how unpredictable those achievments were back in their junior days.
“He was good. He was definitely a very good goalie in junior. But I don’t think anybody that saw him said, ‘oh, this guy’s going to beat all the records and be one of the big stars,’” said Fernandez. “A lot of it goes with what you go through in your life. And I think he found the right place, got the right people to surround him. They believed in him, they pushed him, they let him do his thing, and it worked out well.”
Against Boston, the 36-year-old Brodeur’s all-time record is 22-14-8 and he has accumulated nine wins at TD Banknorth Garden and one victory at the old Boston Garden — all, of course, for the Devils. Against the Bruins’ other netminder Tim Thomas, Brodeur is a perfect 4-0-0. To Thomas, a guy who knows what it’s like to have his goaltending style scrutinized, what makes Brodeur unique is that the future Hall of Famer i’s pretty unorthodox also.
“He hasn’t changed goaltending that much. There’s not many people that emulated his style. Everybody emulated Patrick Roy’s style. And if you look how Marty Brodeur plays, he has his own, totally unique style — which doesn’t get talked about that much,” said Thomas, who then noted that Brodeur’s puck-handling is the one area everyone tried to be like the former 20th overall pick (1990).
So why hasn’t anyone emulated the Brodeur style?
“I guess it’s because in his style, there’s no set rules,” Thomas explained. “Like Patrick Roy and (former Montreal goaltending coach Francois Allaire), they have set rules for every situation. And Marty Brodeur doesn’t have set rules for any situation.”
Fernandez decided to go the butterfly route and he knows how tough the game can be when you stick to a formula. So he marvels even more at Brodeur and his non-conformist approach.
“With Patrick bringing the butterfly in, it’s easier just to fall into that category. It’s an easier style of play,” said Fernandez. “But he’s stuck with his (style). He looks like a guy that plays in the street — the little pads, very athletic, still relies on his reactions. At that age, to still be able to play that style, it’s unbelievable. To stick with that, and add the little pads … and to be a goalie at this level … he’s up there.”