Thursday, January 22, 2009

Destroying a Brodeur Excuse

One oft-repeated excuse used by Brodeur fans (one of my commentors brought it up today, in fact) is that Brodeur was not the starter on Canada's national team in 1996, 1998 and 2002 because the other goalies had their coaches managing the squad.

Oh, really?

In the 1981 Canada Cup, Scotty Bowman started Mike Liut over his own goalie, Don Edwards.

In the 1984 Canada Cup, Glen Sather started Pete Peeters over his own goalie, Grant Fuhr.

In the 1987 Canada Cup, Mike Keenan started Grant Fuhr over his own goalie, Ron Hextall.

In the 1991 Canada Cup, Mike Keenan started Bill Ranford over his own goalie, Ed Belfour.

Looks to me like the Canadian coaches certainly seem like they are able to evaluate their own guys pretty well. Maybe they were vocal in securing their guy a roster slot at least, but when the games started they played the guy they thought had the best chance of helping their country win.

Now what happened when Brodeur entered the picture?

In the 1996 World Cup, Glen Sather started Curtis Joseph, his own goalie, ahead of Martin Brodeur.

In the 1998 Olympics, Marc Crawford started Patrick Roy, his own goalie, ahead of Martin Brodeur.

In the 2002 Olympics, Pat Quinn started Curtis Joseph, his own goalie, ahead of Martin Brodeur in game one vs. Sweden, before playing Brodeur in all the remaining games.

Do coaches always go with their own goaltender? Quite clearly they do not. In fact, there has never been a Canada Cup or best-on-best Olympic tournament where a Canadian head coach picked his own current goalie as the starter, except when Martin Brodeur was the backup. Either it is one big conspiracy against Brodeur, or the coaches simply didn't think he was good enough. From the stories I have read from around those time periods, those coaches were not making a rogue decision against popular support - the consensus from journalists and fan polls seems to be that Brodeur just wasn't the best option.

If you want to argue that Martin Brodeur deserved to be the starting goalie at the 1998 or 2002 Olympics, then argue it based on his merits. Don't use the lame and insulting excuse that it was because of some sort of favoritism from the head coach, because the historical record is pretty clear that Canadian coaches do not have a record of being biased towards their own goaltenders in major international hockey tournaments.

21 comments:

overpass said...

I agree that the "Brodeur was jobbed by coach's favorite!" talking point is a revisionist argument that projects current perceptions onto history. Patrick Roy was pretty clearly regarded as the better choice in both years. In 1998, Roy's selection was uncontroversial. In 2002, Roy declined to play after he wasn't named as one of the original 8 players on the team, and many thought that he should have been, as he was seen as Canada's clear #1 goalie at the time. Joseph vs Brodeur was debated at the time, but Pat Quinn was far from the only person who would have picked Joseph at the time.

See these links for contemporary opinion on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Probably one of the worst, most irrelevantly biased, and opinionated columns on here in a while. While it is debatable whether Roy deserved to start in 98, what can not be contested is that Roy was an egotistical child and his own coach not starting him would have definitely created problems through the rest of the season. Crawford wasnt an idiot, and new it was easier to just start Roy than have an open competition for the job.

There is no question 02 was simply a case of Quinn going with his guy. If not, then why did Wayne Gretzky approach Quinn following Joseph's first game, and demand that Brodeur start from that point on.

I also guess then that all these guys who were picked ahead of Brodeur couldn't get Canada to the Gold medal because they were unlucky? But then Brodeur magically comes along, and happens to get lucky?

Stick to number crunching cuz anytime you have an opinion about Brodeur it is always the same old biased garbage.

Bill Morran said...

If you've ever seen "Gold Rush 2002", which was a video released by Hockey Canada about the selection of the 2002 Olympic team, you'd see that the management, from Wayne Gretzky, to Kevin Lowe, to Pat Quinn, to Jacques Martin all had Curtis Joseph as the starting goaltender going into the Olympics.

The asinine thing was, CuJo was the scapegoat for that team when they lost to Sweden (with the tournament's leading scorer, Mats Sundin, Alfredsson,Naslund, Lidstrom, Nylander, and Zetterberg), while missing Mario Lemieux. Martin Brodeur however, let in 2 goals to Germany, whose biggest NHL name was Marco Sturm...

Maybe people don't realize the lack of parity in Olympic hockey?

Anonymous said...

The lack of parity? I guess you are referring to a 2 loss Sweden Team winning Gold in 06 over Finland? There is certainly parity in the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

unless i am mistaken, didn't you just write that mike keneen chose ranford over belfour? that would certainly debunk your argument that the coaches always pick the better goalie.

Anonymous said...

bias never wins an argument. in fact it takes away credibility from one. you obviously have something against brodeur otherwise you would not dedicate an entire site to him. joining you obviously would be a few bitter ranger fans, and maybe some hasek supporters.

Anonymous said...

you continue to contradict yourself.
using this as your argument

"the consensus from journalists and fan polls seems to be that Brodeur just wasn't the best option"

you contradict your other arguments.

havent you written articles complaining about how the general consesus among fans and media is that brodeur and roy are #1 and #2 on the all time list?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - re-read the blog. The author has a lot of praise for Brodeur's recent (post lockout) play.

(Your continued jibe at the Rangers & their goalie makes me think you are a NJ resident, who thinks those who don't hold Brodeur to be the Best are mainly Ranger fans? I could be wrong but much of the posters here are from Canada, actually... at least, disproportionately.)

Anonymous said...

actually no, often people who are knocking a player, do it for a reason. the most common reason in sports for knocking a team or player is because you are a fan of the rival. i have never knocked any ranger goalie by the way, although the rangers have never in their history had a goalie worthy of being mentioned in the same breathe of brodeur.

Bill Morran said...

Can all the anons get a name plznthx?

And yes, there's a lack of parity. Sweden lost one of their games on purpose at the Olympics in 2006 so that they could play Switzerland instead of Canada or the Czech Republic, because Canada and Czech were upset by a team they didn't show uo to play against.

Anonymous said...

Yes, please other Anonymouses get a name! I was the original Anonymous... there now are 2 new ones.

For shame.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

unless i am mistaken, didn't you just write that mike keneen chose ranford over belfour? that would certainly debunk your argument that the coaches always pick the better goalie.

I never argued that coaches always picked the better goalie, and I don't think they do. The main point (the only point of the above post, really) is that they don't just automatically pick their own goalie.

There is a case to be made that Martin Brodeur deserved to start over Patrick Roy in 1998. That case should be based on a comparison of their performance in the 1997 regular season and playoffs, not merely by accusing Marc Crawford of being biased and willing to throw his country under a bus for his own selfish reasons.

havent you written articles complaining about how the general consesus among fans and media is that brodeur and roy are #1 and #2 on the all time list?

Yes I have. My comments about the public perception were directed towards those who seem to always claim that Joseph was an odd choice to start in 2002, when in reality he was everyone's choice and the team needed to make a move after the disaster against Sweden.

Note that public sentiment was very much behind Brodeur for the 2004 World Cup and the 2006 Olympics. Again, part of this point is in trying to correct the record regarding perceptions of Brodeur. Many people are trying to take Brodeur's post-lockout success (or, to be more accurate, his post-lockout regular season success) and projecting it back over his entire career. Sorry, but for most of his career he was not considered the best and the team selection choices were not controversial.

That doesn't particularly matter to me, as I don't put a lot of stock in public opinion because I don't think most people are adept at factoring in the team context. However, if you do want to argue that public opinion matters just make sure you accurately reflect what the public opinion really was at the time.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

bias never wins an argument. in fact it takes away credibility from one. you obviously have something against brodeur otherwise you would not dedicate an entire site to him.

I don't understand how the above post is biased. I think Brodeur is overrated, that is clear. However, let me just review the argument being presented here.

Argument being addressed: Brodeur did not start for Canada between 1996 and 2002 because the coaches favoured their own team's goaltender.

Premises:

In 1981, 1984, 1987, and 1991 Canadian coaches chose a different goalie ahead of their own goalie.

A biased coach would not select a different goalie ahead of his own team's goalie.

Conclusion:

Canadian coaches do not have a history of bias towards their own goaltender. It therefore does not fit the historical pattern to claim that Canadian coaches were biased from 1996-2002.

The Puck Stops Here said...

Another theory that is consistent with your data is that coaches have been more likely to use their goalie in international play in the last 10-15 years than they were before that time.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

Yes, that's true. If there is reason to believe that something has changed, then the historical results aren't necessarily valid. I can't really think of why that would be the case in this instance, however.

The Puck Stops Here said...

Increased free agency in the league has increased the chance your man will walk away from you at the end of his contract if you don't keep him happy.

So you play your guy first.

Its a clear trend over the years that player's have gained rights (see for example the 1950's era scenes in Net Worth) and with those rights, management and coaching has been forced to pussyfoot around key players.

I would argue the biggest single event changing this was the Eric Lindros draft and eventual trade. That was not very long before Martin Brodeur hit the league.

Bruce said...

Increased free agency in the league has increased the chance your man will walk away from you at the end of his contract if you don't keep him happy.
So you play your guy first.

TPSH: That's a good point about free agency affecting the circumstances of the coach. Joseph did in fact walk on Quinn and the Leafs the summer of 2002, after he got gonged after the Sweden game. Wasn't exactly a no-win for Quinn -- he did, after all, win the gold medal, and in Ed Belfour he got a more than adequate replacement for the Leafs -- but I do believe politics played a role in Joseph getting the first crack.

those who seem to always claim that Joseph was an odd choice to start in 2002, when in reality he was everyone's choice

Wasn't mine. I wanted a goalie in there with experience of winning The Big One, which wasn't Curtis Joseph. He'd never been to the Stanley Cup Finals at that point in his career (still hasn't). He had been outperformed by Mike Richter in the World Cup finals in '96. So there were lots of question marks ovedr the decision in my view, and I actually wasn't unhappy that he got blown out in the opening game and forcing Quinn's (and Gretzky's) hand. That he had been outplayed by Tommy Salo was bittersweet to this Oiler fan. Canadian goalies don't need to stand on their heads to win for the most part, they just can't be outperformed by the other guy. The rock-steady Marty Brodeur was therefore a preferred option over the hot-and-cold Joseph.

As for Patrick Roy, his prima donna attitude towards international hockey was such that he left a huge hole in his resume. He only ever represented Canada once, the Nagano Olympics, where he too was outperformed by Dominik Hasek in a semi-final showdown. No shame in that, but he didn't get it done, and then pulled his me-first act in 2002 and refused the invitation. So Brodeur stepped into the breach, and provided stable, reliable netminding to backstop the gold medal team.

Ed Belfour was the #3 man on that team and never got a shot after Brodeur made the most of his chance. I would have preferred Belfour over Joseph as well. To his credit, Belfour never whined about things, never pulled the whoa-is-me bullshit that both Roy and Joseph did in various ways, and deserved his gold medal by being the ultimate team player.

Anonymous said...

This post is the type of quality where one can print it out and use it to wipe their rear with when done doing their business.

So you are saying the coaches didn't start Brodeur because they evaluated him to be the poorest choice, but he ended up in net anyways after the coaches choice obviously was in error, so hence, Brodeur is a fraud for taking the team on his shoulders and winning it for his country multiple times?

You have no argument, and your argument actually works against you.

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One thing for sure. Data can prove you wrong quite easily if you want to take a little bit higher you should at least check before to know that you aren't making a mistake.

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