Even as Carolina Hurricanes assistant coach Tom Barrasso was just hours from his induction into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this month, he was more than willing to offer his view of New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
There's no question Barrasso appreciates perfection and, in Brodeur, he knows the bar is being set each time the veteran goalie takes the ice.
Brodeur broke the NHL record for career shutouts Monday night, blanking the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-0, for his 104th shutout, breaking the tie he had with Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk, who needed 21 seasons and 971 regular-season games to set the standard while Brodeur needed 15-plus seasons and 1,032 games to break it.
To Barrasso, the numbers are incomprehensible.
"You're watching history that's unlikely to be touched," Barrasso said. "Years ago, I can recall seeing those records and just shaking my head and going, 'There's no way anybody's going to have 103 shutouts.' It just didn't seem possible and now we're now on the verge of seeing Marty break it."
Make that broken.
Barrasso won the Calder Trophy and Vezina Trophy after finishing 26-12-3 with a 2.84 GAA and .893 save percentage as a rookie in 1983-84. He'd conclude his NHL career 18 seasons later with the most Stanley Cup playoff wins (61) of any American-born goalie in history and the second-most wins in the regular season (369) -- behind 2007 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee John Vanbiesbrouck (374).
Brodeur has won 98 career Stanley Cup playoff games and three Cups in his illustrious tenure with the Devils. Including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Sawchuk finished with 115 shutouts. Brodeur now has 127, if you include the postseason.
Barrasso is amazed at Brodeur's durability.
"His win total is mind boggling to me but it just shows his love of the game and how much he loves to play," Barrasso said. "He was a consistent 70-game performer and it always looks like he's a 17-year-old kid out there, loving every minute of it. It's fun to watch."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org