Before the Devils faced off against the Edmonton Oilers at the Prudential Center Tuesday night, they took some time to honor one of the greatest hockey players of all time: Martin Brodeur.
1994 Calder Trophy winner. Ten-time All-Star. Five-time Jennings Trophy winner. Four-time Vezina Trophy winner. Most wins in a single season (48). Most wins all-time (691). Most regular season shutouts (125). And, of course, three-time Stanley Cup Champion.
These numbers are staggering, even unbelievable. But believe it, because one man accomplished this all, and he did it by playing 21 seasons with the New Jersey Devils. And so, the organization used a two-hour period before Tuesday’s game to remember the greatness of Marty Brodeur, and hang his jersey from the rafters.
During the ceremony, many teammates of Brodeur gave speeches in remembrance of his greatness. However, the most captivating speech was given by former Devils’ General Manager Lou Lamoriello, the man who drafted the Montreal, Quebec native with the 20th pick of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
In his speech, Lamoriello explained of Brodeur, “He was a pure, prototype Devil. What I mean by prototype Devil is that the name in the back of the shirt never got confused with what the logo in front meant.” Brodeur was the exemplary team player, always focused on winning and never on himself.
The sports world is full of great players who dominate leagues year after year: LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. However, there are few players who are so dominant, that they change the way the game is played and stamp their names in the record books for decades.
As the best goaltender in the history of hockey, Martin Brodeur was one of those rare players.
Brodeur was so adept at handling the puck, the NHL implemented the trapezoid. Because as proficient as he was at keeping pucks out of the net, Brodeur was equally skilled at starting offensive breakouts and even scored three goals. So the NHL had to create a rule to limit how much he could handle the puck.
Martin Brodeur was just that good.
In his speech, Brodeur said of New Jersey fans, “We’re not the biggest fan base there is, but I meant it when I said they’re one of the greatest just because of how passionate they are.” Brodeur is so complimentary of the fans but in reality, they are only Devils fans because of him.
He is correct when he says New Jersey has a small fan base. The team has often struggled to remain profitable in the small market, and recently changed ownership. However, without Martin Brodeur, there may not even be a hockey team in New Jersey. Without his magnificence between the pipes, the Devils may never have won a cup, let alone three. The Devils have clearly had good teams, but Brodeur made them great. The successes of his teams have sustained this franchise and allowed it to survive in a difficult environment.
So, I think I speak for all Devils fans when I say “thank you”, Martin Brodeur. Thank you for your excellence. Thank you for your dedication to the team. Thank you for your breathtaking highlight reels.
And most of all, thank you for keeping the Devils in New Jersey.