Roy to watch Brodeur try to match record

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Humble pie is not an item that dominates Patrick Roy's diet by any means.

But for a guy who frequently has been described as "stubborn," "egotistical" and "self-centred" for more than two decades, Roy's decision to be on hand at the Bell Centre tonight to watch Martin Brodeur attempt to equal his career record for victories should be applauded.

It would have been easy for Roy to just stay away, shielding himself from the surrounding debate concerning "Who's the better goalie of all-time?"

Instead, Roy has actually shown a more human side to his personality, a trait that dates back to late November when he was quite emotional during a ceremony in which his No. 33 was hoisted up to the Bell Centre rafters.

Earlier this week, Roy said that Brodeur "deserves" the record, adding that he always thought Brodeur might be able to one day eclipse his mark of 551 wins.

Roy and Brodeur have not chatted in more than a year. They are not close friends. And yet, there is a professional respect between the two, the type shared by fierce competitors who are among the best ever at their craft.

As a kid growing up in suburban Montreal, Brodeur had photos of Roy taped to his walls. On one particular day in 1986, he even rode his bike downtown in order to watch Roy and his teammates in the Stanley Cup parade.

Now it will be Roy's turn to watch Brodeur flirt with history.

Roy has his legions of critics, and rightly so. He still has an air of arrogance that rubs many the wrong way.

Some in Quebec will never forgive Patrick, the coach/general manager of the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts, for encouraging his son, Jonathan, to attack Chicoutimi goalie Bobby Nadeau, who did not want to fight. The incident, which took place more than a year ago, left Jonathan suspended for seven games, Patrick for five.

Four months ago, Frederick Roy, another of Patrick's sons, was suspended 15 games for a high-sticking incident. Frederick is a forward with the Remparts.

Having said that, there are those in Montreal who still feel that Patrick Roy is a legitimate candidate to become the full-time coach of the Canadiens, the same team he vowed he would never play for again back in 1995.

He never said anything about coaching, did he?

Whatever happens down the road, Roy's immediate plans are to shake Brodeur's hand if the Devils goaltender equals the record tonight. It would be a classy gesture --one his critics never thought they would see.

Break this

When it comes to records that allegedly will never be broken, Wayne Gretzky is an expert.

The Great One finished his career with 2,857 points, 970 more than runner-up Mark Messier. His 894 goals are 93 more than the next closest player, Gordie Howe.

Keeping that in mind, Gretzky was asked if anyone will be able to eclipse the impending record Brodeur is on the verge of establishing for goalie victories.

"Maybe someday someone will come along and push Marty for that record but right now it's going to be tough for somebody to do, I can tell you that," the Phoenix Coyotes coach said.

"The greatest thing about professional sports is that you're always trying to compare athletes and eras and what somebody did 30 years ago. And we always seem to say when we see something so unique like Marty's doing, "OK, that could be impossible break." But, then, somewhere along the line some guy comes along and all of a sudden you're going, 'Wow, that was a record we thought would never ever be broken or even close to being touched.' And the same with a lot of my records.

"Somehow, some way some of them are going to fall. But that's what the game is all about."

Gretzky fondly recalled Brodeur's contribution to Canada's Olympic championship at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the country's first gold in 50 years.

"Going into the final game against the U.S. the one thing we were sure of was that Marty was going to be extremely solid that night," Gretzky said.

"The bigger the game, the better he was prepared, the better he played and the more he liked it."

Motown Malaise

The defending champion Detroit Red Wings have not given up an average of three goals per game in a season since 1993-94. But that streak is in jeopardy right now, with the Wings having given up 2.97 goals per game entering this afternoon's game against the St. Louis Blues.

The past two Saturdays they allowed eight goals to Nashville (Feb. 28) and eight to Columbus (March 7), two of the league's more offensively-challenged teams. On Thursday, they blew a 4-1 lead en route to a 6-5 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames.

Detroit's defensive woes cut much deeper than just goalies Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin. Whatever the case, there is little sympathy around the league for the woes of the mighty Wings.

Cross Checks

If either the Atlanta Thrashers or Tampa Bay Lightning have the first overall pick in the June entry draft, they will lean toward taking Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman rather than London sniper John Tavares ... The Philadelphia Flyers will have huge salary cap issues next season, with 22 players already under contract for a total of $54.3 million US for 2009-10.

One rumour making the rounds in Philly suggests the team might make Simon Gagne available this summer in order to clear space ... The resurgent Blues are 14-5-4 since Jan. 19, putting them right into the playoff hunt in the Western Conference ... Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, out with a high ankle sprain, has yet to resume skating although he is close. He is still scheduled to be out for at least another couple of weeks.


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