Speed Read: Is Brodeur The Greatest Goalie Ever?

It’s hard at this moment to put into perspective what Martin Brodeur accomplished last night by becoming the NHL’s all-time leader in wins as a goaltender. For one, there’s no such thing as a tie anymore and Marty has had his share of shootout wins over the past few seasons. But it’s clear that this is a big deal, especially since Brodeur — a Montreal native — passed his childhood idol Patrick Roy to get the record.

Martin Brodeur

(Would you know this was one of the 10 best hockey players of all time if you saw him walking down the street?)

But just think how huge the celebration of this record would have been if Brodeur had played his entire career just 5 1/2 miles east of at Madison Square Garden instead of at the afterthought that is the Meadowlands (and if he had led the Blueshirts to three Stanley Cups instead of the Devils. And yes, I know the Devils play in Newark now, but that’s only been a little over a year). As someone who’s lived in New York, I know firsthand that those 5 1/2 miles might as well be 500 miles, considering how little attention is paid to the Devils and Nets in the city.

That’s not a knock on the Devils’ franchise, which has quite clearly been superior to the Rangers for 15 years now, mostly because of Brodeur.  It’s just that he’s never really been a superstar — that guy who’s a must-see along the lines of Gretzky, Lemieux, Roy, Ovechkin, Crosby, and any number of other guys who draws huge crowds wherever they go. And that’s largely because he’s been fairly anonymous despite playing in the largest market in the NHL. He’s never even filled his own building on a regular basis. Heck, you can count the number of Devils sellout crowds on one hand most years. They can’t even pack their barn for playoff games. I bought tickets to a 2003 Stanley Cup Finals game the day before from Ticketmaster.

When Brodeur retires with what will likely be many more wins (100 more? 200?) than Roy, he will have set a bar that may never be topped. But will he be remembered as fondly as the NHL’s other greats? Personally, as a hockey fan, I kind of a agree with this guy:

Roy fan taunts Brodeur

I think Brodeur is a great technical goaltender who’s been fortunate to be able to play at high level for many years. But he always has had a great defensive team in front of him — something many other great goaltenders like Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour were not blessed with on a regular basis. But for my money, but Roy is still the best I’ve ever seen.

Do you have WBC fever yet? Do you know it’s even happening? As if we needed further evidence that America’s attention is squarely on college basketball this month, America’s scintillating 9th-inning comeback victory over Puerto Rico last night — which avenged P.R.’s 11-1 mercy-rule win over the U.S. a few days ago and sent the Americans into the semifinals — was seen by an announced crowd of just over 13,000 at Dolphins Stadium in Miami. To put it into perspective, the Korea-Japan game in San Diego drew more than 15,000. To recap: it’s our national pastime, in our country, playing against an American territory with a large population in the Miami area, and we couldn’t outdraw the Korea-Japan game. The U.S. team is now apparently taking this all very seriously, after nearly deciding to drop out of the tournament because too many people were getting hurt. I’m going to put the probability at about 98% that this is the last World Baseball Classic.

As it happened, though, it was a great game. Shane Victorino drew the ire of the Puerto Ricans in the 7th inning when he “accidentally” deflected a ball thrown in from the outfield while he was running the bases, allowing him to take an extra base. If the game wasn’t close, he likely would’ve taken one off his ear flap the next time up. Puerto Rico had a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the 9th, but the U.S. rallied, culminating in David Wright’s 2-run single that won it, setting off a genuinely boisterous celebration.

WBC celebration

The NIT started last night with eight matchups, and “snubbed” teams like San Diego State and Saint Mary’s came through with victories. Stephen Curry did his usual thing, scoring 32 as Davidson won at South Carolina. Meanwhile, only 2,039 people bothered to show up in South Bend to see Notre Dame beat UAB. Kentucky played its first game at Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum since 1976 because Rupp Arena had a scheduling conflict, and the Wildcats downed UNLV in front of a sell-out crowd.

Stephen Curry

(Steph’s team wouldn’t make an NCAA run this year, so isn’t it better that we might see him take the NIT crown?)

• Should the Astros follow up their signing of Pudge Rodriguez with Pedro Martinez? Some commenters on BASEBALL PROSPECTUS think it’s all crazy enough to work, but BP’s Will Carroll is just shaking his head at Ed Wade (who says the team has had no conversations with Pedro, for what it’s worth).

Oh, God. Yes, that’s A-Rod making out with himself:

Alex Rodriguez making out with himself

Morehead State beat Alabama State in the game the NCAA refuses to call the “play-in” game.  Their reward? A beatdown by Louisville on Friday. In fact, the Cards beat Morehead 79-41 earlier this season, so expect the line to be set somewhere around 38 on this one. The tragedy in all of this? No more chances to see Grlenntys Chief Kickingstallionsims, Jr. play.

• According to MLIVE, players for the Lions are no longer permitted to talk to the media unless it’s been cleared with the team’s media relations department first. Because if there’s any organization that has a pristine reputation to uphold, it’s the Detroit Lions.

• Florida State president T.K. Wetherell kinda lost it in a press conference yesterday, so says the ORLANDO SENTINEL. First, he referred to Bobby Bowden’s first school (Samford) as a “dipsh*t school,” then he outlined a hypothetical way that the ‘Noles could beat Florida, which includes a frighteningly well-thought-out fraud scheme involving Tim Tebow and fake schoolwork submitted in his name.

• PASSION AND PRIDE cautions against Phillies fans panicking about Cole Hamels‘ injury. It looks like he has no structural damage to his elbow, but still. 260 innings last year.

• ROYALS REVIEW warns against a cheeseburger shortage in KC, with Billy Butler and Sidney Ponson now both in town (and isn’t Ponson just the perfect Royals guy?)

Sidney Ponson cheeseburgers

Steve Nash is really excited that Vancouver’s going to get an MLS team, as his Twitter feed indicates. With the rate the MLS is expanding, Nash will probably be playing for them after his deal with the Suns expires.  So now the MLS has two Canadian teams. It’s all part of a master plan to start gradually putting MLS teams in other countries. The league clearly believes it’s about time that the rest of the world gets some exposure to soccer.

• Speaking of soccer, it’s time to bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups! The frontrunner? Gotta be Qatar.

• The AP reports that two sled dogs died in the Iditarod yesterday. Their hometown? Wasilla. The cause of death is unknown, but it probably has to do with running in the snow in ridiculously freezing weather.

If you needed to win one hockey game, who would be your goalie?

View Results

Fighting Season Begins, Hockey Game Breaks Out

The offseason gives hockey players much-needed rest, but it also builds up aggression in some that only the start of the season can release. Witness the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jared Boll and the Dallas Stars’ Krys Barch going toe to toe last night, in a rematch of their brawl in January.

Jared Boll Fights Krys Barch

 According to the COLUMBUS DISPATCH:

Boll wasn’t able to fight during the preseason because of a broken right hand he suffered playing shinny in the summer, and the feisty Blue Jackets forward struggled with it mentally.

Now that’s a man’s man’s man. (Video of the fight is after the jump.)

Read more…

VP Nominee Sarah Palin Is Also a Runner, Hunter

We already showed you Sarah Palin’s adventures in sports broadcasting, but the self proclaimed “Hockey Mom” has many more ties to sports. We use the term “sport” loosely here, but it’s interesting to note that she is a lifelong runner and hunter.

For years, her and her husband fed the family with whatever they could grow at home or kill in the Alaskan wilderness. Husband Todd also happens to be a four-time winner of the “World’s Longest Snowmobile Race“. Read more…

Don Cherry Movie To Have Outlandish Costumes

Hockey Night in Canada commentator and all-around fashion plate Don Cherry (pictured below dressed as The Riddler) will soon be the subject of a two-part movie written by his son, Tim, THE TORONTO STAR reports.

Don Cherry

“We’re trying to find out if Brad Pitt can play the leading role,” jokes the movie’s protagonist. “Maybe George Clooney could play me in the later years.”

Nice try, but it’s Richard Attenborough all the way for you, Cherry.

Read more…

Patrick Roy Directs Son In Jr. League Fisticuffs

NHL goaltending legend and Quebec junior hockey head coach Patrick Roy sent his kid, Quebec Remparts goalie Jonathan Roy, on a goon mission when their team was getting blown out last night.

Patrick Roy Hockey Coach

Jonathan skated the length of the ice to fight the opposing goalie, who wasn’t really looking for action.

Read more…

Pam Kisses Whale (Not From Tommy Lee Video)

We know Pam Anderson is Canadian, and has an rather unhealthy love for animals, but this photo last night of the KFC-killa kissing the Vancouver Canucks mascot caught us with our pants down (much like the entire male population of Malibu Colony when Pam is in town):

Pam Anderson Vancouver Canucks Orca Whale Mascot

Cherry Not So Merry For Latest “Coach’s Corner”

Don Cherry was not in a merry mood for his latest TV appearance.

The TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL reviews the hockey analyst’s choice of words in his holiday segment for “Hockey Night In Canada”.

Bedecked in a red suit and Santa tie, Cherry was anything but jolly. He began the program by reminding viewers that Christmas was all about “baby Jesus”.

He then went on a rant about the Ruuttu brothers - Tuomo & Jarkko - and their dirty style of play. When Tuomo was shown laughing after getting an Ottawa player sent to the penalty box, Cherry commented, “Wouldn’t you like to go up and smack that guy?

Don Cherry & dog

As for Jarkko, the reason for Chris Simon’s 30-game suspension, Cherry said that he deserved to get stepped on by the New York Islander.

Speaking of Simon, co-host Ron MacLean brought up the opinion that the suspended player feels like he isn’t given “a fair shake” as a native Canadian of the Ojibwa tribe.

Cherry’s response: “You’re saying that natives have an inferiority complex when something happens to them?….Fair shake in life? Go out and get your own fair shake in life and work for it! Don’t give me that stuff!

Don Cherry hugs Scott Thompson

Cherry also wasn’t thrilled with an earlier CBC feature on Boston Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference and his environmental work, calling the segment “sickening”:

What is this stuff? It’s ‘Hockey Night in Canada’. And we’re talking about saving the world and all that stuff. Let’s talk about hockey!

Happy holidays to you, too, Grapes.