Mere days after Martin Brodeur, already the winningest NHL goalie, broke the NHL goaltender record for career appearances, he set a new NHL shutout record. The year 2009 produced quite the timeline of records (previously held by Patrick Roy) broken by Brodeur – on March 17, Brodeur became the regular-season victories leader (with 552 wins); on November 27, he played the most career minutes (60,235); and on December 18, he had appeared in the most games (1,030). To top off all that, on December 21, 2009, Brodeur broke a 39-year record by earning his 104th shutout.
The shutout record was set at 103 shutouts on February 1, 1970, when Terry Sawchuk of the New York Rangers had his final shutout against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sawchuk had held the record of most shutouts since his 95th shutout on January 18, 1964. Then playing for the Detroit Red Wings, he surpassed George Hainsworth’s record in a 2-0 victory against the Montreal Canadiens. It took 45 years for another goalie to take Sawchuk’s place.
Marty Brodeur began his journey with his first NHL shutout on October 20, 1993, during his stellar rookie season that earned him the Calder Memorial Trophy. It took him 16 years, 2 months, and 1 day to amass 104 shutouts. His first shutout only needed 17 saves, but his record-breaking game required 35 – including a fantastic glove save with 42 seconds remaining. Like for Sawchuk’s final shutout, Brodeur blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-0). During the final minute of play, it seemed that the crowd (of 17,132) was holding its breath, even though Brodeur played for the visiting team. Brodeur later commented, “It was almost like winning a playoff game. The guys kept chipping the puck out and everybody was blocking shots everywhere. It was a great effort from my teammates.” Finally the clock ran out. “The horn signals a new record!” exclaimed the TV commentator. “He celebrates shutout number 104 with the same team that he got number one with, the New Jersey Devils!” The 104th shutout was Brodeur’s 580th win in his 1,032nd game. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement:
“Terry Sawchuk set a shutout record that stood for more than 45 years and withstood the challenge of more than 500 goaltenders who have played in the National Hockey League since then. By surpassing that record tonight, Martin Brodeur reached yet another level of goaltending supremacy. The entire NHL family congratulates him, the Devils and every member of the organization who contributed to this marvelous accomplishment.”
Brodeur enjoyed the pressure of playing all 60 minutes and, as he said, “the way you play will decide the outcome of the game.” He explained, in his autobiography, Brodeur: Beyond the Crease, how, as “the most creative player on the ice,” he developed his own unpredictable goaltending style. “I needed to be able to poke-check, to stack the pads and be able to play the puck behind the net.” He also “didn’t mind making the first move if I could dictate the moment.” Goaltending, he wrote, “demands innovation and imagination, an ability to adapt and consider alternatives in a split second, the capacity to generate multiple answers to the same, or similar questions.” That was in addition to how, as Lou Lamoriello (then Devils general manager) stated, “Marty’s mental toughness, his ability to overcome a bad game, is just phenomenal.”
It will be some time before the shutout record can be broken. Jacques Lemaire, then the Devils’ coach, commented, “I think it will never be broken. It’s hard for a goaltender. They do have a lot of pressure…you get into the playoffs and the run is tough for a goaltender, especially Marty. The thing is, he’s in the net for 60 of the (82) games. It demands a lot.” At the time, the active goalie second to Brodeur only had 50 shutouts. Currently, the closest active goalies are Robert Luongo with 77 and Henrik Lundqvist with 63. However, by the time Brodeur retired, he had set the bar even higher – ending his career with 125 regular-season shutouts. In addition, Brodeur holds the record for playoff shutouts at 24. Of those still active, Marc-Andre Fleury, at 14, would need ten more to match.
As is only fitting, Brodeur’s final win was a 3-0 shutout (on December 29, 2014). He finished his stunning career first in wins (691), saves (28,928), games played (1,266), and minutes played (74,438). His 2.24 goals against average is currently ninth overall. In the postseason, Brodeur ranks second only to Roy in wins (113), saves (4,830), games played (205), and minutes played (12,717).
In hardware, Brodeur earned the Vezina Trophy four times and the William M. Jennings Trophy five times. With the Devils, he won three Stanley Cup championships. With team Canada, he won two Olympic gold medals. In early 2016, a year after he retired, the Devils retired his No. 30, and earlier this year, Brodeur was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.