Brodeur hands it over to Luongo
By LANCE HORNBY, TORONTO SUN
With failing hands -- actually, a sore left wrist -- Martin Brodeur passed the goaltending torch to Roberto Luongo last night. It probably hurt Brodeur to applaud, but he joined 19,273 at the Air Canada Centre in saluting Luongo's 37-save performance, including five in overtime, in Canada's 4-3 win over the Czech Republic.
Brodeur's choice to sit led to a wild night for Luongo, who twice allowed potentially deflating Czech goals less than a minute after Canada scored. But one of his best saves came without a stick and his block of Milan Hejduk preceded Vincent Lecavalier's winner.
"Words can't describe it," said Luongo, who likely will have to lead Canada against the Finns in Tuesday's final.
"Marty told me (yesterday) morning that I could do the job and to just enjoy it. I jumped so high (when Lecavalier scored), I almost touched the banners."
Trying to maximize Canada's chances, Brodeur decided early yesterday to pull himself and his World Cup-leading 0.75 goals-against average out of the sudden-death semi-final. The choice couldn't have been an easy one for a goalie who hasn't played fewer than 70 games the past seven NHL seasons and has been Canada's No. 1 since replacing Curtis Joseph at the 2002 Olympics.
"The team needs to get ready, not to wait for my decision," the New Jersey Devils' Vezina Trophy winner said of the suspected sprain.
Luongo is a young goalie on a bad Florida Panthers team, but hardly a liability, having been thrown into the 2003 world championship when Sean Burke was hurt, continuing that team's gold-medal run and winning the job outright as Canada won again this year.
Executive director Wayne Gretzky compared Luongo's game last night to the kind Grant Fuhr delivered for the Oilers in their Cup years.
"He might let in a couple in a 5-5 game, but you knew in overtime you would not lose," Gretzky said.