Brodeur earned his place in history

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

To suggest that Martin Brodeur’s place in hockey history might be overrated because of the great teams that have played in front of him is simply ridiculous.

As Brodeur took to the ice against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday night attempting to become the NHL’s all-time shutout leader, there continues to be those out there who say Brodeur’s Hall of Fame numbers have been padded by the defence-first philosophy of his New Jersey Devils over the past 15 years.

The flaw in that argument is this: How is Brodeur’s situation any different than that of some of the all-time greats like Terry Sawchuk, the man who previously held the career shutout record of 103 by himself until Brodeur came along?

According to Hall of Famer Johnny Bower, it isn’t.

“I’ve talked to (Brodeur) a couple of times and told him that,” Bower said Wednesday. “I told him that, while he has had some good teams play in front of him over the years, so did I. So did a lot of top goalies.”

Bower uses the example of the 1967 Maple Leafs, a team he and Sawchuk backstopped to the Stanley Cup. Under the tutelage of tyrannical coach Punch Imlach, defence wasn’t just the main thing, it was the only thing.

“Listen, goalies today are amazing. They have to stop 30, 40, even 50 shots a night. We never had to deal with such things,” Bower said.

“I always said no one would ever break Terry’s record. I was wrong. And I’m very happy for (Brodeur).

“Marty would have had no problem playing back in the six-team league.”

Aside from their amazing natural talents to stop pucks, Bower said Brodeur does not share a lot of traits with Sawchuk.

Brodeur likes to wander out of his net. Sawchuk didn’t.

Brodeur is very outgoing. Sawchuk wasn’t.

“Different personalities for sure,” Bower said. “Terry had his own problems. He didn’t really mix with the other players a lot.

“Marty deserves this. He has earned everything he’s achieved.”

Johnny Bower has spoken.

Don’t Mess with Moose

Good on Mark Messier on taking a hard line on those invited players who will be reluctant to go overseas and join Team Canada at the world championships in Germany this spring.

“If you don’t really want to come, know this: We don’t want you on our team,” the no-nonsense Messier told the Toronto Sun Wednesday, just hours after he was officially named the general manager of Canada’s 2010 world championship squad.

Messier is aware of the difficulties there are in wooing talent to the worlds just two months after the Vancouver Winter Games.

But he refuses to use that as an excuse.

“They’ve warned me that, after an Olympics, it can be difficult to get players (but) we still have enough resources out there to win gold,” Messier said. “That’s the goal.”

Gretzky a candidate?

While Messier would not list his former Edmonton Oilers teammate Wayne Gretzky as a frontrunner to coach the team, he definitely considers The Great One to be a candidate.

“First off, I have to get a management team in place. After that, you have to wait and see who will be available at the time of the tournament.

“Having said that, I’m certainly not counting out Wayne.”

Puck politics

According to sources, the NHLPA shied away from offering Brendan Shanahan a job because some insiders allege he was too close to the league during the 2004-05 lockout.

Shanahan’s recent retirement announcement came from the NHL, not the union as is the norm. He last week was named the league’s vice-president of hockey and business development.


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