Devils goalie Martin Brodeur reached an astounding milestone on Sunday, reaching his 100th shutout in a 3-0 New Jersey win over Philadelphia. To put that in perspective, only one other goalie has logged 100 shutouts in his career, and Terry Sawchuck is living a happy retired existence in hockey’s hall of fame.
(He’s Tiger Woods, and people are treating him like Stewart Cink.)
Yet those milestones don’t seem to be setting off alarm bells around sports, with the media treating 100 shutouts like 100 wins in baseball. Or 100 homers. Sure, it’s a milestone, but no one really seems to realize how big it is.
Let’s make it clear: This is a huge deal, the kind we may see only once or twice more for the rest of our life … if we’re lucky. We’re watching the Tiger Woods of hockey, yet no one seems to realize or celebrate just how great he is. If you’re looking for a reason why, it might just be because of his tabloid affair with his sister-in-law.
Take a look at Brodeur’s career accomplishments, and they can almost take your breath away. He’s won three Stanley Cups and four Vezina trophies as the league’s best goalie. He has more career 40-win seasons than anyone, more single-season wins (48) than anyone and has the most single postseason shutouts (an incredible 7). Even what seem like lesser accomplishments for Brodeur qualify as career-makers for others: An Olympic gold medal in 2002, a Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and a whopping 10 All-Star selections.
A recent Yahoo! poll showed that 73 percent of readers felt Brodeur was the best goalie in NHL history. Yet that gets much less attention than what Brodeur has done off the ice, namely the affair that wrecked his marriage … with his now ex-wife’s sister-in-law. Brodeur’s former wife, Melanie Dubois, eventually sued him for $9 million in alimony to help support their four children — yes, he slept with the sister of the mother of his four children — and the entire scandal was exposed belatedly by an obscure French-language tabloid in Montreal.
Yet all of the legalese and heresay was secondary to a single sign that Brodeur had to face during a playoff series: “Tickets to a Stanley Cup playoff game: $95. Alimony demanded from your wife: $9 million. Sex with your sister-in-law: Priceless.”
So, have the moral police kept Brodeur’s subsequent accomplishments under wraps? Maybe. Or maybe Americans just don’t care about hockey anymore. It’s hard to tell. Either way, Brodeur’s mark is being celebrated the way it should, and the way he deserves it to be.