The precise origins of the distant relationship are not clear, but it probably dates to their time as teammates during the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Brodeur says that on the flight to Japan, Team Canada coach Marc Crawford, who was also Roy's coach in Colorado at the time, told Brodeur that he would not play at all in the tournament. "I'll never do that to another guy," says Brodeur, who won Olympic gold in 2002 and approaches next year's Vancouver Games as co--No. 1 with Luongo. He is referring to Roy, not Crawford. "I don't know if he said it or his coach or whatever, but the decision was made before we even skated."
Three years later at a Team Canada camp, Brodeur, so adept a puckhandler that his style spurred the NHL to restrict the area where goalies could play the puck, remembers spending an entire practice giving Roy, clumsy with the puck, some tips.
"You know it's hard not to appreciate Patrick," Brodeur says. "The guy was unbelievable. I played against him in the playoffs. [The Avalanche's four-games-to-three win over the Devils in the 2001 Cup final can also be read: Roy 1, Brodeur 0.] For me, he's the top goalie, the guy I looked up to all my life. I don't hide that.... We're just two competitors. He was there first. I was just the one trying to push him off some of the records."
Before the arm injury delayed Brodeur's chase, Roy—who insists he could have extended his 19-season NHL career "two or three more years to make it tougher for him to get it ... but that's not the way I am"—said he hoped that his schedule would permit him to attend the potential record-breaker. Serendipitously, the junior team that Roy coaches, the Quebec Remparts, is off this Saturday, and Roy has said that he might attend that night's Devils-Canadiens game at the Bell Centre if Brodeur is in position to tie the wins record. "The Sawchuk family was great when I broke his record [of 447 career wins] and set a good example for how to deal with it," Roy says. "Whatever I can do that will be great for Marty, I will."
Roy and Brodeur—or should it be Brodeur and Roy?—will converge at 551, possibly in the wintry city so important to them. If the record is not matched then, it will be soon. And then Brodeur will wave goodbye, taking goaltending numbers to places over the horizon.