In his new weekly column, Net Worth, Sportsnet.ca hockey blogger Patrick Hoffman examines the most important position on the ice.
Although netminders play an array of styles, the most common two styles are that of the butterfly and stand-up.
The butterfly style is believed to have been created by Hockey Hall of Famer and goaltending great Glenn Hall, first one to drop to his knees to stop the puck. Hall was followed by another great, Tony Esposito.
The butterfly style makes goaltenders go down on both pads with their toes pointing outward and the tops of the pads meeting in the middle to help close up the five hole. This style was perfected by talents such as Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, Felix Potvin, Roberto Luongo, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The other common style, classic stand-up, enables goaltenders to make more saves on their feet rather than going down while also allowing more mobility mid-save.
Goaltenders who perfected this style include the likes of Hockey Hall of Famer Jacques Plante, Bill Ranford and Mike Richter. These goaltenders relied on quick feet to make the first save and then to get into position to stop the second one.
One goaltender who has perfected both styles is veteran Martin Brodeur, who has employed the best of both worlds to achieve living legend status.
When Brodeur first came into the league as a starting goaltender in the 1993-94 season, it was easy to see that Roy was his idol. Like Roy, Brodeur is a French-Canadian goaltender who played a classic butterfly style his first few years in the NHL.
For the first several seasons in his career, the butterfly style was perfect for Brodeur. His legs took up the bottom portion of the net, his glove was in perfect position to make great saves, and he was great at controlling rebounds.
However, later on in his career, Brodeur started to get beat when using the butterfly style and decided to mix in the stand-up, developing a hybrid style.
Borrowing bits of stand-up and butterfly, the hybrid goaltender relies on reaction, save selection and positioning to stop the puck.
This kind of style allows the goaltender to control rebounds and deflect low shots with their sticks. Brodeur will use the butterfly but is not as predictable as a goaltender that strictly uses the butterfly.
When looking at and analyzing the play of Brodeur, it is easy to see that the hybrid style has allowed him to adapt to today’s game. When he first came into the NHL, plays seemed to develop a bit slower than they do in 2012, and thus Brodeur’s butterfly allowed him to get into position before the puck even left an opponent’s stick.
Nowadays, however, goaltenders must be quicker. Not only do they have to stop first and second shots, but they need to be aware of and in position for third and fourth shots.
Since the 2004-05 lockout, Brodeur has been able to do just that. We’ve seen Brodeur make diving poke-checks, diving glove saves, two-pad stack saves, great stick saves and more.
Brodeur, a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer when all is said and done, can attribute his willingness to adapt his style to his Stanley Cups and his longevity.
Even if (fingers crossed) the entire 2012-13 season is lost to a labour dispute, Brodeur is signed through 2013-14 and has gone on record saying that he wants to play next year as well.