Zizing ‘Em Up: Fleury’s march up NHL wins list

Sure, records are made to be broken. Wayne Gretzky’s record for goals (895) seemed almost untouchable for a time but Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin now has 822 — 72 behind Gretzky.

Brodeur’s record seems much more unobtainable, Fleury said. And Brodeur, the New Jersey Devils executive director of hockey operations, humbly seems to agree.

“It’s definitely going to be hard,” Brodeur said in a phone interview. “Organizations baby their goalies a lot now because it’s such an important position that they need two guys.”

Brodeur cited the situation with Devils goalies Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid as an example.

“Trust me, I’m in that position right now on the management side, and I know how hard it is for goalies to play that much,” said Brodeur, who played at least 70 games in a season 12 times in his Hall of Fame career. “And when you have a good one you want to save him a little bit in case something happens. So, just by saying that, guys will play less and less games moving forward. And that’s why it will be hard to get close to that wins record.

“It’s not that guys today are not capable of doing it. I just think it’s because the body of work is spread out over different guys. The days of guys playing over 70 games like I did are long gone.”

A three-time Stanley Cup champion and four-time Vezina Trophy winner voted as the NHL’s best goalie with the Devils, Brodeur had 125 shutouts in his 22 seasons and shares or owns 12 NHL records. The late Terry Sawchuk ranks second with 103 shutouts, another indication of how some of Brodeur’s marks will be difficult to break.

Still, for him, the wins mark is most meaningful.

“It’s about the team,” he said. “They’re the ones in front of you, blocking shots, sacrificing their bodies. A goalie win means the whole team won, not just the goalie.”

From that standpoint, he’s been impressed with Fleury’s march up the list. The two have crossed paths many times and were teammates with Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“I love how athletic he is,” Brodeur said. “He keeps shooters guessing. He studies them. He studies the game. Kind of like me. The game has gone to where goalies are more about positioning and keeping the same technique. But with him, you never know when a pad stack is coming. He’s fun to watch. You never know what’s coming.”

Kind of like Brodeur was when he played.

“Yeah, I can see the similarity,” he said.

As for Fleury, he admits catching Roy would be special.

“It’s not something I think about every day,” he said. “The media brings it up a lot. It’s something I’d like to achieve, but my main focus is trying to win every night.”

He’s been successful at doing that for a lot of nights throughout his career, so much so that he must pinch himself sometimes that he’s gotten to this point.

“If you would have told me as a kid I would be challenging one of Patrick Roy’s records one day, I’d have told you you were nuts!” he said with a laugh.

In the end, as Roy’s total looms closer, that suggestion wasn’t so crazy after all.


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