Make Room Atop the Mountain for Marty
On Saturday night in Montreal, all eyes were on hometown pride Martin Brodeur -- friends, family, random people from random encounters who probably remember him better than he remembers them. Yet if Brodeur felt any of those pairs of eyes on him in particular, they surely belonged to Patrick Roy. With Brodeur's childhood hero watching, the Devils goalkeeper tied Roy's all-time record with his 551st career win, nudging the great over to create more room atop the scroll of iconic backstops in hockey's rich history.
Saturday was a night of individual milestones for the Devils. Patrik Elias tied the franchise record for most career points (701). Brian Rolston scored his 300th goal. Yet neither of those achievements even made a blip on the radar next to Brodeur's mark. On Tuesday, he'll go for his 552nd career win, putting Roy's record to rest and beginning his official quest to put his number out of reach for generations of goalies to come
But Saturday was about Roy and Brodeur together, peers with immense mutual respect as well as seven Stanley Cups and seven Vezina Trophies between them. It was about the two most dominant presences in the history of NHL nets sharing the spotlight for a night. It was about the past and present sitting side-by-side with equal stature while the rest of the hockey-loving world admired the type of baton-passing moment that happens oh-so-rarely but forever leaves its mark.
It couldn't be more fitting that Montreal was the backdrop for all of this. It's the city where Roy made his legend, where Brodeur honed his skills in streets and on backyard rinks. It's also the heart of hockey (the Habs-crazy crowd even took time from their disappointment to recognize the significance of the moment and give Brodeur his due with a classy standing ovation; can't imagine that happening in Philadelphia) and a city where antique pastor sits side-by-side with modern beauty -- again, the appreciation of the old and the new alike.
These Canadiens didn't want to let it happen on their watch. Already desperate with their own drama and a playoff race to worry about, being on the wrong side of history was not a welcome addition to the agenda. They were plucky, reminding the Devils throughout the game that it wouldn't be easy, despite the emotional lift the Devils were understandably carrying. But his Devils teammates weren't going to let Brodeur down.
Not on Saturday night. Not in Montreal. Not with Roy watching.