From the Toronto Star:
Martin Brodeur’s teammates crowded around in the tiny visitors’ locker room at Mellon Arena, eager to share in the celebration of a record that once looked as if it would never be broken.
The New Jersey Devils goaltender sat smiling in his stall, holding a puck inscribed with “104” – the record number of shutouts he reached with Monday’s 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It moved Brodeur past Terry Sawchuk on the all-time list and gave him the only major goaltending milestone missing from his resumé.
Sawchuk grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in a working-class Ukrainian family. Two of his brothers died at a young age, and by 17 he was his family’s sole breadwinner. He broke his elbow playing football, and each time doctors operated to remove bone chips in subsequent years, he had them put in a jar that he kept with him throughout his life. At 18 he almost lost his eye when he was hit in the eye with a shot.
Sawchuk made it to the N.H.L. with Detroit in January 1950 and was almost unbeatable. The Red Wings won three Stanley Cups in five years, and in 1952 they swept the playoffs in eight games, with Sawchuk allowing just five goals. In his first five full seasons he recorded 56 shutouts.
Before Sawchuk, goalies tended to stand tall in the nets, but Sawchuk’s crouch was revolutionary. It served as a bridge between the old standup style and the butterfly style of his contemporary, Glenn Hall, the forerunner of today’s goaltending techniques.
Even with his great hockey playing abilities, Sawchuk faced his share of discrimination for being Ukrainian:
“There was all kinds of baggage he carried,” says Maggs, who honoured Sawchuk’s brilliant career and anguished life in a 2008 book of poetry Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems. The book was the culmination of 10 years of research into Sawchuk’s life.
Part of that baggage was his background. His father was Ukrainian, which meant that in those politically incorrect times, Sawchuk was simply known as `The Uke,’ just as Armstrong, a native Indian, was `The Chief.’