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A Tale of Three Goalies

With the Martin Brodeur, Rick DiPietro and Henrik Lundqvist among the NHL's elite, the debate over who's the best hearkens back to the days of Willie, Mickey and the Duke

Posted: Tuesday January 8, 2008 11:37AM; Updated: Wednesday January 9, 2008 2:49PM
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Brodeur, who sees the ice better than any goalie, could become the NHL's alltime wins leader next season.
Brodeur, who sees the ice better than any goalie, could become the NHL's alltime wins leader next season.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

One day after the Toronto Maple Leafs chased New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the first period of a 6-2 rout last month, this exchange appeared on the message board Islandermania.

BOSSY FOR PRESIDENT: "If DP [Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro] was on, let's say, Toronto... they would be one of the best teams in the NHL. Henrik has a great team in front of him. He just has to be a bit better than mediocre and he's fine. DP has to be borderline FANTASTIC for his team to win. With a good team around him, DP is far superior, no question."

ADAMJAY12: "Interesting topic, but the real important fact is: when will either be as good as that Marty [Brodeur] guy in New Jersey?

He's the greatest goalie in this area's recent history. I mean after [former Islanders Stanley Cup winner] Billy Smith, of course."

SECTION317: "Rick is 1000X the athlete Lundqvist is. The only one that comes close to Rick is Brodeur. Lundqvist is positionally sound because he NEVER takes chances and never leaves the crease. Rick is insane, but he backs it up with athleticism."

HAM2112: "DP 3, Queen 1 [a slam at Lundqvist's nickname, the King]. (Any questions?) DP 3, Brodeur 0 (Amazing how human Martin looks playing for a mediocre team)."

New Yorkers today conduct their sports arguments with posts and ripostes in a postmodern Dew Drop Inn on the Web, but in the mid-'50s debates were settled fan to fan in crowded, smoke-filled barrooms, where the pounding of a fist on the bar and not capital letters was the preferred form of emphasis. The favorite topic in those days: Who is the best centerfielder in New York -- the Giants' Willie Mays, the Yankees' Mickey Mantle or the Dodgers' Duke Snider? Yes, talkin' Willie, Mickey and the Duke.

More than a half century later, America's leading metropolis is graced with Marty, Ricky and the King, another trio of superb players who play a marquee position. If comparing the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur, the Islanders' Rick DiPietro and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist with the holy trinity of New York centerfielders seems like sacrilege, you're probably right; only Brodeur, a certain Hall of Famer, has reached a level comparable to those ballplayers'. But both Lundqvist, 25, and DiPietro, 26 -- each by far the most important player on his team -- are a decade younger than the masked marvel of New Jersey, and both can claim a place among the NHL's elite.

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