Martin Brodeur is considered to be one of the greatest goaltenders ever. In fact, his place among the NHL’s top goaltenders of all time is firmly entrenched in stone. Brodeur retired in 2015 after 21 memorable and monumental seasons in the NHL. His illustrious career was spent almost entirely with the New Jersey Devils, where he amassed the most wins (691) and shutouts (125) in NHL history. Brodeur also won four Vezina Trophies and the Stanley Cup on three occasions.
One question that remains up for debate is which goaltending style and technique Brodeur preferred. It is well known that he rejected the butterfly revolution at a time when his peers were embracing it with open arms. The butterfly style is a technique of goaltending that sees the goaltender guard the lower part of the net by dropping to the knees. They are then able to block attempts to score by the opposing team. The butterfly style gets its name from the resemblance of the spread goal pads and hands to a butterfly’s wings.
For most of his career, Martin remained on his skates while everyone else was adapting the butterfly styles — and playing from their knees. However, he did embrace some butterfly elements later on his career but never fully adopted them.
Here are some clips of the legendary Martin Brodeur in action:
The butterfly technique contrasted with the more traditional stand-up style. The latter is the oldest playing style for goalies — and one that Martin Brodeur utilized for most of his career. As the name suggests, the goalie stops the puck from hitting the net in a standing position. They do not go down like the butterfly style but may bend over to stop the puck with the upper body or kick it away. The latter are known as kick or skate saves, which actually go back to the NHL of the early ’60s. Along with Bill Ranford and Jacques Plante, Martin Brodeur was regarded as a pure stand-up goalie for most of his career.
The hybrid style of goaltending combines elements of the stand-up and butterfly styles. With the hybrid styles, the goaltender relies on reaction to implement save selections and positioning. They are also able to control rebounds while deflecting shots with their sticks. Most goalies — in and out of the NHL — who do not have a style preference are considered hybrid goalies.
While Martin Brodeur is still considered one of the best old-school goalies ever, he did incorporate the butterfly and hybrid styles over his career. This is probably why he is considered one of the best ever, and his accolades and achievements on the ice truly speak for themselves.