Sunday

"King" Richard Brodeur

His statistics are unimpressive, downright awful in some cases. But Canucks fans, and for that matter early Nordiques fans, can tell you that the stats are not truly indicative of "King" Richard Brodeur's stellar play.

Brodeur played most of his NHL career in the early to mid 1980s. Those years featured horrible Canuck teams in the same division as Wayne Gretzky's high scoring Oilers, Lanny McDonald's Calgary Flames, Marcel Dionne's LA Kings and Dale Hawerchuk's Winnipeg Jets. That's a whole lot of offensive firepower gunning at the poor Canucks, who relied on Brodeur to keep them in most games, and sometimes just to keep the score respectable.

Brodeur was, literally, the Canucks saving grace. He was an exciting goalie to watch, pretty acrobatic and had lots and lots of shots against. His career 3.85 GAA his grossly inflated by the high scoring Smythe division of the 1980s. His win/loss record is very respectable considering how bad the Canucks were in comparison to their divisional foes.

Brodeur's career highlight, like that of most Canucks and their fans of that generation, was the improbable 1982 Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup finals. Brodeur backstopped the Canucks with an 11-6 record and a 2.70 GAA. While the Canucks were lucky to have the LA Kings upset Gretzky's Oilers, The Canucks handled their opposition quite handily until they reached the Finals. Once there, the dynastic New York Islanders tore apart the Canucks, winning easily in 4 games. Dubbed "King Richard" for his fine play during the '82 playoffs, Brodeur's fine play couldn't stack up against the likes of Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies and most noteably - Mike Bossy.

It was fitting that it was Brodeur who was the goalie who was faced with the task of stopping the Islanders. Back in the Islanders first Cup season of 1979-80 Brodeur was a star goalie with the Isles farm team. He was a CHL all star with the Indianapolis Checkers, posting 4 shutouts and a 2.88 GAA with 22 wins. He also appeared in his first two NHL games with the Isles, posting 1 win and 1 loss.

The Isles of course already had Billy Smith and a very capable backup in Chico Resch, so they moved Brodeur to Vancouver in exchange for a 5th round pick which never panned out. Brodeur instantly became the Canucks number one goalie. In fact it wasn't until the 1987-88 season that Brodeur was ousted out of that spot as the Canucks starting goalie. The arrival of a young Kirk McLean meant that Brodeur was now being asked to be a backup. Unhappy with that situation, Brodeur asked to be moved somewhere where he could play. He was eventually dealt to Hartford in exchange for veteran goalie Steve Weeks. But Brodeur only played in 6 games for the Whalers before retiring after the 1988-89 season.

Brodeur's career actually started 8 years before he made the NHL. Drafted by the Islanders in 1972, Brodeur opted to skip out on the NHL and jump at the chance to stay in his home province by playing with the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association. Brodeur ranks as one of the best goalies in the WHA history. His 165 wins ranks second all time, only 2 wins behind Joe Daley. Brodeur also set a record for wins in 1975-76 when he had 44. That same season the Nordiques won the Avco Cup championship, symbolic of WHA supremacy.

1 comments:

Mike,  7:50 AM  

"Brodeur was, literally, the Canucks saving grace."

I don't think so. Sure, Brodeur was one of the key players, along with Smyl and Fraser. But Thomas Gradin unquestionably was the early 1980s Canucks saving grace.

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