Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Why You Can't Say Anything Bad about Brodeur

Sportswriter Jim Kelly recently dared to suggest that Brodeur was at fault for the game 4 loss against Ottawa.

Here are some of the responses:

"Brodeur is the only player in NJ keeping them alive"
"the number of shutouts Brodeur has (92) is higher than your IQ"
"If it wasn't for Brodeur, the Devils would have went out in the first round against T-Bay"
"People have been saying how solid Ray Emery has been, but I still say Brodeur is making more saves, and bigger saves"
"You can't sit there as a legitimate hockey fan and say anything bad about Brodeur. The guy is one of the best of all time and always will be. Argueably the best of his generation. While you sit there and write about the couple softer goals that went in you forget to mention the dozens of incredible saves he's made look easy in this series."
"Brodeur is by far the best goalie in the league"
"It's not hard to imagine them (Ottawa) scoring 6-7 goals most games against a lesser but still competitive goalie"
"This must be a joke...broduer has how many cups ? How many wins ? How many vezina's ? How many shutouts ? How many olympic gold medals ? How many....? This opinion is not even worth the screen its written on."

All hail the power of a great reputation! A goalie has a below average playoffs, and lets in two soft goals in a 3-2 loss, and yet dozens of fans come out and bash a sportswriter who suggests that just maybe it might have been the goalie's fault.

One comment (that I have seen reproduced many times in different forums and media) shows particularly clearly how goaltending is entirely based on reputation and past performance, rather than what is going on right now:

"And for those of you on the luongo train. Get a grip. MAYBE once he makes it to the playoffs more than once, and MAYBE if he gets past the second round, and MAYBE if he wins a vezina, and MAYBE if he EVER wins ONE cup then MAYBE he will be able to be menitoned in the same breath as marty...until then give brodeur his due."

I don't know if there can be found in any other sport the equivalent of this logic that only team accomplishments in the playoffs from the past matter, and a younger athlete simply cannot be considered as good as a much older one with more team accomplishments, regardless of current performance. Maybe occasionally a football quarterback, but that's probably it.

Roberto Luongo is the most talented goalie in the NHL. He is in the prime of his career, he just completed his sixth consecutive excellent season in the league, and he was the best goalie in this year's playoffs. To not consider him at least the equal of the 35-year old Martin Brodeur is completely unreasonable. Hockey fans should either for consistency's sake start claiming that Sidney Crosby needs to win a Cup to be considered better than Martin St. Louis, or preferably stop treating goalies as such a special case and just do the same thing they do for all other players and evaluate them based on how they are playing right now.

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