Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ten Questions

Here are 10 questions for those who claim Martin Brodeur is the best goalie ever:

1. Would the best goalie of all time never once in his career lead the league in save percentage, despite nearly always playing in front of excellent defensive teams?

2. Would the best goalie of all time play his first 9 seasons (i.e. the prime of his career) without winning any Vezinas, and only twice even being named to the NHL Second All-Star Team?

3. Would the best goalie of all time not be considered the best in the game by virtually anyone until he played over a decade in the league, and his two main rivals retired?

4. Would the best goalie of all time have a better save percentage than the other goalie only 52.6% of the time in the playoffs, that is only outplay his opponent barely more than half the time, again despite playing for an excellent team his entire career?

5. Would the best goalie of all time have an 8-19 career record in playoff overtime games?

6. Would the best goalie of all time be an unquestioned backup on his country's Olympic team in his prime in the middle of one of his best seasons, and then again start the tournament as a backup four years later, even after the leading candidate for the job decided not to play?

7. Would the best goalie of all time never finish higher than 3rd in Hart Trophy voting?

8. Would the best goalie of all time rarely steal games in either the regular season or the playoffs (just 5% of regular season wins and 3% of playoff wins came when his team was outshot by 10 shots or more)? Would he also have a below-average winning percentage in such situations, both in the regular season and in the playoffs?

9. Would the best goalie of all time never win a Conn Smythe Trophy, despite 3 Stanley Cups?

10. Would the best goalie of all time go four years in a row without making it past the second round of the playoffs, despite playing for 100-point teams in three of those seasons? Would he be solidly outplayed in playoff series by Damian Rhodes, Cam Ward, Robert Esche, and Arturs Irbe?

16 comments:

Mike Dickson said...

These are really bad points, clearly you've not watched hockey as a close fan for a number of years.

1. Yes, BECUASE of the system he played. If you ever watched a devils game from 1995-2004 he would only face 15 shots a game, but of those 15 shots 3 would be breakaways, 3 would come from 2 on 1's and half would be on one timers. Save % is an over-rated stat because it can't take into affect quality of shots. Plus when you face less it is a lot harder to have a high save %. Then take a loo kat this year. The Devils have a crappy defense compared to previous years, Brodeur faces more shots and... low and behold he leads all starting goaltenders in save percentage. Coincidence? Nope. Part of this was also because the NHL took away perhaps Brodeurs greatest asset, his puck handling. Brodeurs ability to play the puck behind his net would cause teams to complete shift their game approach for New Jersey and would also lead to at least 5 less shots per game simply because he could get rid of anything shot in near the net. Also look at career number save percentage, better than Roy that "other guy" up for best of al time.

2. Yes because of the very reasons you mentioned in your first point. Brodeur was HIGHLY under-rated by fans/media until 2002 when he took over in the olympics. Until then people always glossed over everyhting he had done because he was behind a fantastic defensive with a fantastic system. He was a victim of his own situation in terms of personal achievement because of the team he was on.

3. Yes, because A. A goalie CAN'T be the best ever unless he has played at least a decade of solid, consistent hockey. No one has done that in the history of the game like Brodeur. And as previously mentioned his defense was seen as the reason not him, so he was over looked for a long, long tim.

4. Yes, for the same reason mentioned in #1, the Devils style of play always allowed for a higher quality of shots. I have watched 80% of Devils games since 1994. Many of your points run of the same tangent and thus are eliminated with the same argument.

5. This is your one fair point and I will give it to you. The Devils have sucked, sucked, SUCKED in overtimes. I will say it is the defensive style of play, they always play back waiting to take advanatgae of opposing mistakes which are less frequent in overtime because no one wants to be the goat. But fair enough, overtime has not been his best. (On a side note I think Roy was pretty shitty in playoff OT too if you take out 1993 when Montreal won 10 OT games, otherwise he was very weak there too)

6. Yes and the reason for this is the coaches. In 1998 who do you think Canada's head coach was, Marc Crawfod, head coach of the Colorado Avalance. Who was his goalie in Colorado? Patrik Roy. Roy refused to even go unless he was told he would start every single game (which is the reason he did not go in 2002) and since Crawford was his coach in colorado he allowed for it, he wasn't going to want to cause problems with the team when they returned from the Olympics. So Brodeur was told on the plane to Nogano he would not be playing in a single game. Enter 2002, who is team Canada's head Coach? Pat Quinn. Who is his goalie with the Toronto Maple Leafs? Curtin Joseph, so of course Cu-Jo was given the start in game 1 despite the fact Brodeur was clearly the superior goalie AND Cu-Jo would be playing plenty of Leaf team-mates on team Sweeden. What happened? Cu-Jo plays like shit, Marty comes in from the 2nd game, never comes out again and they win the gold medal. The starting jobs had nothing to do with Brodeur, it was based on who had been selected to coach the team and their NHL goalies they didn't want to cause problems with.

7. Yes, again because of the team and system he has played for. Brodeur has always been overlooked because it is believed that anyone could play for the Devils and win, which just isn't true, check out Scott Clemensens starts (few and far between as they were) this year for proof. Brodeur is finially getting proper consideration this year and thats because the defense in front of him was severly weakend so his personal numbers had to rise. Also take note in 2003, Broder had a better GAA, Save %, and set the record for playoff shutouts and yet Gigure was given the Conn Smythe, why? Brodeur's team defense was given the credit for HIS success, while Jiggy got all the credit for Anaheim's.

8. I've seen Brodeur steal a ton of games, not just with his saves but with his puck handling. How many other players have had a league institute rule changes almost entirely because of what 1 man can do? That's what the NHL did with the goalie puck handling trapezoid, it was aimed directly at Brodeur. Shots on goal is not the only determinant of which team is playing the better game.

9. Yes, he should of won in 2003 without a doubt, that has already been mentioned. The other two years he easily could of won it as well, Claude Lemieux and Scott Stevens were given the awards but it could have easily been Brodeur, as I said before he was victim of his team's style and so it was believed his role in the wins weren't as big as they truely were.

10. The true sign of great goaltending isn't how you faired in a 2 weeks span or even over 1 season. Jim Carrey won the Vezina trophy in the mid 1990's breaking up Hasek's streak, does that make him better? Any goalie can get hot for a few weeks, carry his team for a while. Brodeur has carried his team for 12, playing more than 70 games like it's nothing, while other greats like Hasek miss two weeks because of a hang nail. Brodeur has all the inatangibles to go with his phenomenal on-ice talent. He puts everything together like no goalie before him and he's had to deal with living in virtual obscurity because he played in New Jersey. I guarantee you if the Leafs had of drafted Brodeur back in 1990 tthat A. hey would have won at least 2 cups in the last 40 years, B. Brodeur would have been recognized much sooner for what he can do on the ice C. Brodeur Leaf jerseys would be the highest selling jersey in the NHL C. There would be NO doubt he was the greastest goalie of all time, it would be written about daily in Toronto newspapers.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Hey Mike, thanks for the discussion points.

You really seem to have three arguments here, all of which I believe are misconceptions.

1. The Devils give up lots of high quality shots, so Brodeur has it more difficult than other goalies.
2. He never got any respect because of the team in front of him.
3. The NHL took away Brodeur's puckhandling ability.

To believe #1, you would have to believe that every statistical study of shot quality ever done is wrong, that the subjective viewpoints of hockey experts are wrong, that playing a defensive style means that a team often gives up breakaways and odd-man rushes, that New Jersey is stupid enough to choose to eliminate non-dangerous scoring chances and instead give up dangerous ones, that the team led the NHL in fewest goals against 4 times in 8 years gives up a high number of quality scoring chances, and that goaltenders are almost singlehandedly responsible for a team's defensive success.

Regarding #2, Brodeur clearly was not considered the best by virtually anyone until 2003. This is shown in Vezina and All-Star voting. You would believe that he was unfairly underrated early in the his career. I would argue that his Olympic gold medal and his excellent New Jersey teammates caused him to be universally overrated later in his career. This is a difficult debate to resolve.

As for #3, the NHL took away only his ability to play the puck in the corners. He can still play it behind the net and when it is shot at him, and he continues to do that very well. This likely had an impact, but a very small one, and nothing near an extra 5 shots a game. This point is also completely irrelevant to evaluating the vast majority of Brodeur's career.

I also think you failed to address my 3rd point in the list. I didn't say he wasn't the best ever, I said that he was never considered the best in ANY ONE SINGLE SEASON before 2003, his 10th season in the NHL. Arguing that nobody in the game managed to see his hidden greatness is frankly an insult to hockey writers, coaches, and players. Not to mention that you claim that nobody has played a decade of solid, consistent hockey in history like Brodeur. If 2 Vezinas in 10 seasons is the greatest ever, I'd hate to know where to rank someone winning 5 of them in 6 seasons IN EXACTLY THE SAME TIME PERIOD.

Oh, and one more correction: Patrick Roy has been anything but "weak" in playoff OT. He is 39-18 in his career, with an estimated OT save percentage of .940. In 57 playoff OT games he has lost fewer of them than Martin Brodeur has in 27 (!). Take away 1993, and he is still 29-18. Patrick Roy was DAZZLING in playoff overtime.

Jerry said...

Question -- those are interesting questions, and this is an interesting website. But, something that I looked around for (and maybe I just missed it) -- I would like to see you define 'best.' After all, as teams like Ottawa and Philadelphia have proven, it's not all team either. I tend to believe that it's a synergy -- you need a good goalie to win, and a winning goalie is good. You, yourself, as a recreational goalie, probably understand the whole mental aspect of the game is just as important as physical ability and that serenity under fire is probably the key overlooked aspect of goaltending.

I would agree that Brodeur isn't the best all time; but I think you would have to concede that, in line with his accomplishments, he's very, very good. A goalie can't win you games -- but a goalie can lose you games, and perhaps one of his best claims to being good (like all really good goalies) is that Brodeur has avoided losing too many of the key ones. After all, you need to do is let in that one soft goal, and it's game over.

Thank you for putting up the website though, it made for interesting reading.

Yours,
Jerry

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Jerry,

I agree with you, it is a synergy. But "you need a good goalie to win" is a cliche. Goaltending isn't a prerequisite, it is just one variable in the overall team equation. If your team is weak, you need a good goalie to win. If your team is dominant, you just need an average goalie to win.

I would say the best goalie is the one who stops the puck the most, after adjusting for his team and the quality of scoring chances. Take a look at my playoff goalie study for more of how I look at that question.

I will definitely agree that Brodeur is a good goalie, maybe even very good. But definitely not the greatest ever, which is why he is overrated.

Anonymous said...

3 answers for all your questions:

1. He was viewed (like you do) as a product of the system for a decade. Once that system deteriorated (ie. Defencemen left) and he continued to play well, people realized he might actually be as good as his numbers. This would apply to your question about the Hart, Vezina, and other player's comments about him for the first 10 years.

2. The system did reduce the number of shots he faced, New Jersey blocks alot of shots, and Brodeur rarely got those 5 or so free gimme shots per game that came fromt he point. This would address your save percentage question, and also explains his good GAA stats while have a low save percentage. Also include the fact that shot totals always seem to be counted lower in New Jersey (see the Leaf's 6 shot performance in the playoffs as an example).

3. The team, in some seasons did not generate alot of offence. Because of this, in an overtime situation, it was more likely for the opposition to score in OT than New Jersey.

Now I have a question for you:

Fraud is defined as:

1. A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain.
2. A piece of trickery; a trick.
3.
a. One that defrauds; a cheat.
b. One who assumes a false pose; an impostor.

So using those as guidelines. How is Brodeur a fraud? You could certainly say that you think he's overrated, but fraud?

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I was thinking of fraud as in "one that is not what it seems or is represented to be", as Merriam-Webster defines it.

If you listen to the writers and the broadcasters who portray him as a dominant, game-stealing force who is one of the all-time greats and who stands head and shoulders above anyone else in the game, then that is describing something that isn't there and never has existed.

Just quickly:
1. He won his Vezinas before the system "deteriorated". It was more likely the Olympics and the retirement of Hasek that started changing perceptions.

2. The number of shots faced has very little correlation with save percentage. See http://www.puckerings.com/research/persev.html

3. You're right, the team has a lot to do with it, although New Jersey has consistently outshot their opposition. Brodeur hasn't been great, though; by interpolation from shots faced and minutes played he has an estimated career OT save percentage of around .910, not great for someone who is widely considered "clutch".

Anonymous said...

Goaltending, as well as any other position, including coach, is not about save percentage, GAA, goals, assists, etc. It is about winning. Brodeur wins. These stats are attempts to predict the ability of a player to win. But when the player wins, consistently (and constantly), it is difficult to argue against him without glaring flaws in these stats and a reason to believe the player does not cause the winning.

The typical "reason" given here is The Trap. If this trap can make any team win, as it is claimed here as the reason for the Devils' wins, why don't other teams replicate and achieve the same degree of success? The only answer I can imagine is "because they do not have Brodeur." At this point, Brodeur's skill becomes clear. He is of such high quality that a team can build an entire system of play around him and experience success like the Devils.

Anonymous said...

The puckhandling rule was solely made to stop Brodeur. Mike Milbury, GM of the Isles at the time (in the same division), proposed it at the time to stop New Jersey's streak of making the playoffs every season, not to mention winning division titles along the way. It is a ridiculous rule that needs to be rid of. As Brodeur said, "you can downsize the pads on goalies, but taking skill away is unfair." He is correct in that statement since guys like Luongo are able to catch corpses in thier gloves, not to mention dozens of cheaters.

And in regard to Roy, he was always jealous of Brodeur's puckhandling skills as he blew one or two games in the 2001 finals be cause of it.

Brodeur maybe the best goalie ever due to his consistency year in and year out for almost 15 years now. In regard to hard work and pure talent, I'd have to say Tretiak was the best goalie ever (though it is almost impossible to compare to NHL goalies). Roy was inconsistent and need the help of huge pads late in his career to barely get him the cup.

Anonymous said...

I'd say it's interesting that you say Brodeur is a fraud, which would seem to indicate that he thinks he's something he's not. HE isn't the one saying he's the best goalie of all time, he's apparently one of the most mellow, down to earth goalies there is. So to say that he's a fraud is a little misleading, since it's obviously not him pretending to be something. I think he's an excellent goalie (I admire his puckhandling ability/rebound redirection), but it's really the media that build him up like that. "Overrated", perhaps (it would after all be difficult to see how a different goalie would perform behind Jersey's defense, or how Brodeur would play behind a weaker team, since he's never moved) but a fraud he definitely is not.

Interesting post though. I disagree on several of your points, but I'll try to get back and elaborate later.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

2. Because the fans/media were like you, and very likely Roy/Hasek fanboys.
3. You'd consider someone the best in the game in 4-5 years? Seriously?
4. Quality>Quantity
5. If you're going to attribute all the credit for Brodeurs stats to the team in front of him, don't be a hypocrite and lay the blame squarely on him right after.
6. 1998 Coach - Crawford. Surprisingly, the coach of the Avalanche started the Avalanche goaltender. That went well
2002 Coach - Quinn. Surprisingly, the coach started his own team's goaltender. "and then again start the tournament as a backup four years later". You do remember how the 2002 Olympics went for Canada with Brodeur in nets, right?
7. Recent history Hart winning goalies:
- Dominik Hasek
- Jose Theodore (Clearly the Hart was an indication of career skill in this case)


Also, why did you make this site exactly? Did Brodeur having people *gasp* think he's good get to you so much that you had to make a website and parse every minute stat you could find in an effort to tear him down? You sound like a desperate Brodeur fan who didn't get any replies from the messages you left at his house, and went "I'll show him!". And for what, to reinforce 5-10 people across the world in their conviction that "Nuh-uh, he had 15 years of luck is all!". You attribute Every.Single.Success. to any factor other than Brodeur, be it the coaching at the time, the game pace at the time, the defense corps at the time, weather/politics/Voodoo, but wait wait wait, whenever something goes wrong "That goddamn Brodeur AGAIN!".

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't have an ex-wife named Genevieve would you? Marty must have really pissed in your cornflakes. Don't know why all the hate, but it is going to be hard to keep this up with that great defense gone and Marty still cranking out seasons of 40+ wins a season.

Anonymous said...

Your points are kind of falling apart as his career goes on and he keeps getting better hey ?

And saying he was a backup on team canada as a reason why he wasnt a good goalie ? Are you serious ? We are talking about Roy here. Hasek wouldnt have even been invited to team canada camp my friend.

Loyal

Anonymous said...

Brodeur isn't a top 5 goalie. Top 10, possibly. Top 5 no.

The top 5 would likely be Sawchuk, Roy, Plante, Hasek, and Esposito. And in there, you can argue solidly against Plante, Hasek, and Esposito.

For the record: I am in fact a Sabres fan, and a Hasek fan. I'd personally regard him as the second best of all time, and about on par with Sawchuk.

Anonymous said...

You probably weren't even old enough to ever see Plante, Esposito, or Sawchuk play. Certainly you cannot ever make comparisons from goalies in the 90's to goalies from a different era. The game was much slower and the skill level was not even close to what it is now.

Anywho, my deepest thoughts and prayers go out to you as a sabres fan. If your goalie was so great(hasek) he would have won a stanley cup with the sabres, he wouldnt have had to wait until 2002 to win it with the red wings. by the way, the red wings are an absolute powerhouse, as shown this year, and a mediocre goalie is all thats needed for them to succeed. Ironic however that you say hasek was a better goalie than Brodeur, yet he went 2-2 against a mediocre nashville team in the playoffs with an offensive powerhouse in front of him! not so great after all! Another ironic point for Brodeur vs Hasek was in 1999, Hasek and the sabres get beat by the stars in 6 games. Nearly the same team a year later that gets beat by Brodeur and the devils!
Now i am a die hard devils fan and with that i am a die hard brodeur fan. Brodeur and Roy are the only goalies in the past 20 years that have proven they can win no matter who is in front of them.
Its time to stop hating on Brodeur now people! He is the best goalie in the game and you are blessed to see him play. A goalie like him does not come around too often!

Anonymous said...

I really don't care whether Brodeur is considered the "greatest of all time" or not. All I care about is that he has been the man in net when my Devils went from league doormats to Stanley Cup champions. I really don't think such things can ever really be decided in any sport, because different players played under different rules and so forth.

That being said, I would like to address Question #2:

"Would the best goalie of all time play his first 9 seasons (i.e. the prime of his career) without winning any Vezinas, and only twice even being named to the NHL Second All-Star Team?"

This is part of what I call "The Stevens - Brodeur Circular Argument". The argument goes like this: "Scott Stevens shouldn't win the Norris Trophy because he doesn't score goals anymore and he has Martin Brodeur playing behind him." At the same time, "Martin Brodeur shouldn't win the Vezina because he has Scott Stevens and Scott Neidermayer playing in front of him." And so on.

Both those arguments are bogus. I think it's ridiculous that an award for "best defensemen" is only awarded to defensemen who score goals rather than those excel at keeping other teams from scoring. But that's another story. The reason Brodeur is now getting the credit he deserves is because the Devils kept right on winning after Stevens and Neidermayer left, and after rules changes and a new era of free agency drastically changed the nature of the game.

Honestly, I am so sick of the way the hockey media keeps piling on the Devils and Devils fans like me. You honestly think the hockey media is fawning over Brodeur? Try reading some of the New York papers sometime. That will clear up that delusion real fast!

Anonymous said...

The simple fact that the idiot of this blog has to write 10 gazillion words to argue that Marty is a fraud reveals how ridiculous his argument is.

I could use fewer words and successfully argue the moon is made of cheese.

Get a life already!