MONTREAL - Martin Brodeur had a special visitor at his hotel Saturday morning - Patrick Roy.
The visit came only hours before Brodeur attempted to tie Roy's NHL record of 551 career victories by a goaltender when the New Jersey Devils meet the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Roy, who retired in 2003 and is now coach of the junior Quebec Remparts, is to attend the game.
The pursuit of the record could not have been better scripted, with the tying win possibly coming in Brodeur's home town against the team he grew up adoring. If he gets it, then he will have the chance to beat the mark of the man known in his Canadiens days as Saint Patrick on Tuesday, St. Patrick's Day, when the Devils host the Chicago Blackhawks.
"He just wanted to say hi and wish me well for the game," Brodeur said of Roy. "It's nice of him.
"He's on a busy schedule coaching a junior team. It's not easy for him to get around, but he came by this morning."
With the media clamouring for interviews, Brodeur opted to hold a news conference at the arena. As usual, he appeared unruffled by the excitement or enormity of the record he's close to matching.
"It's exciting times, I'd be lying to say it's just another day," he said. "I try to keep it like that mentally to keep my focus, but I know there's a lot of attention to it.
"It's a big deal and I'll just try to take it in stride and make the most of it. Hopefully today is the day. It may not be, but I don't want to disappoint anybody. Everyone's here to see it."
Brodeur, who got his first win March 26, 1992 against Boston, began the season needing 17 wins to catch Roy. But he was sidelined Nov. 1 with a torn biceps that required surgery and did not return until Feb. 26.
Since then, he has wins in six of seven games, including a 6-0 shutout of Colorado in first game back and another shutout of Philadelphia this week. That put him at 550 wins and 100 shutouts - three behind Terry Sawchuk, who retired in 1970.
"I never looked at Montreal because I didn't know how well I was going to play or how many games I could play after my injury," Brodeur said. "When I started by winning four straight games, oops, then that name popped up a bit, that maybe Montreal could be the one."
Brodeur comes from the St Leonard district of Montreal, the same neighbourhood as Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, and his father, Denis, also a former goalie, was the Canadiens photographer when he was growing up.
Now Brodeur is in position to shatter nearly every goaltending record in the book. Roy still leads in combined regular-season and playoff wins with 702 to Brodeur's 644, in playoff shutouts with 23 to Brodeur's 22 and few other categories.
But with three years left on his contract, Brodeur is almost certain to pass them all if he stays healthy.
Brodeur has spent his entire career with the Devils, helping them to three Stanley Cups. He also led Canada to gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
But he won't be the only player on the ice looking to achieve a milestone. The game will be the 1,000th of Canadiens defenceman Patrice Brisebois' career.
Brisebois, who played his first game Jan 27, 1991, will be the 12th Canadiens player to reach the 1,000-game plateau. The all-time leader is Henri Richard with 1,256.