Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 08/07/13 at 01:20 PM ET
ESPN's Paul Grant's made some...Interesting..."Who was better in their prime?" choices in pitting Wendel Clark against David Clarkson and then Wayne Gretzky versus Sidney Crosby, but today, he at least offers a pair of players who were contemporaries at one time in Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy:
The case for Brodeur: Brodeur is 41 and in the twilight of his career. But what a career. One Calder, four Vezinas and five Jennings trophies, most of the latter won largely on his back. Oh, by the way, three Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals. There's no denying Brodeur played in a solid defense-first organization, but he made the big saves when he was being counted on in the biggest games, no small skill to have. In his prime, Brodeur was fundamentally strong, played very square to the puck and did it without relying on Michelin Man equipment like some of his peers. And his prime seems to have inexplicably extended to at least 2012, when he dragged the underdog Devils to the Cup finals, his sixth such appearance. He broke the 40-win mark an amazing eight times and four times hit 10 shutouts or more. Heading into his 20th season, all with the Devils, Brodeur is looking to add to his record wins total. Few superstars in the game have been as reliable as Brodeur.
The case for Roy: The ultra-confident Roy had an amazing career. Three Conn Smythes, five Jenningses and three Vezinas. Oh, and four Stanley Cups. He was one of the most competitive goalies -- actually, athletes, period -- to walk the earth. Plus, he was a bit crazier than the average goalie, which is saying something -- it wasn't out of the realm of possibility for him to skate the length of the ice and throw down with the opposing goalie or the opposing goalie or the opposing goalie. His fire and cockiness rubbed people the wrong way -- who tells his coach, during a game, that he wants to be traded? -- but it got into the heads of opponents and helped contribute to his intimidation factor. The fact that he could wink at a stone-faced opponent made it all the more infuriating. He had a low goals-against average at a time when averages were higher than today; he posted shutouts in an offensive time; and he racked up the wins, hitting 40 three times before he retired and 35 wins in his last season, all in an era without shootouts. If ever a goalie could have been considered a team's emotional captain and de facto leader, it was Roy.
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