NEWARK, NJ - Prior to the New Jersey Devils home game at The Prudential Center against the visiting Edmonton Oilers, on Feb. 9, the New Jersey club honored former goaltender Martin Brodeur, who retired in the middle of last season, after “arguably the best career of any goalie” in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL). During Tuesday’s ceremony, Brodeur was hailed by former teammates (specifically Ken Daneyko, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Patrik Elias), coaches, and executives, for a career that was nothing short of brilliant.
Brodeur by the numbers: 1,266 games played; 74,439 minutes played; 28,928 saves; 691 regular season wins; 125 shutouts; 22 NHL seasons; 10-time NHL all-star; four-time Vezina trophy winner; three Stanley Cups; two goals; and one Martin Brodeur. Besides these accolades, the Montreal-bred Brodeur also hung up his pads with the most games played in NHL history, postseason shutouts in NHL history, and most wins in NHL history.
Other than putting up astronomical numbers, Brodeur’s “perennial greatness” can be defined by the way he transcended the goalie position in hockey. Brodeur played the game his way—constantly stacking his pads and diving around the goalie crease to keep the puck out at all costs. Although the 10-time all-star’s play started to tail off as his career winded down into the sunset, Brodeur’s leadership and work ethic was never questioned.
“I'm a Rangers fan, but he definitely is the greatest goalie of all time,” said Giancarlo Cefalo of West Orange. “What a career. Well -deserved honor.”
“I remember him taking us to the Stanley Cup finals in 2012,” said lifelong Devils fan Christian Lighty. “He inspired all fans to come together and believe we could win the Stanley Cup, even when we were so close to elimination.”
Although the Devils lost that final to the Los Angeles Kings in game six of a best-of-seven series, Brodeur’s leadership never faded.
Current alternate captain and a former teammate of Brodeur, Patrik Elias affirmed to the roaring sea of red at the Prudential Center on Feb. 9, that Brodeur was the “heart and soul of this organization.”
“As a life-long hockey and Ranger fan, I can still salute the greatness of Martin Brodeur,” said Tony Echeverria of West Orange. “Five- time Stanley Cup finalist and three-time cup winner. Met him a couple of times in West Orange, and in typical hockey player form, he was a nice normal guy.”
With Brodeur’s number 30 jersey being retired and hung in the rafters for all of eternity on Tuesday, no member of the New Jersey franchise will wear 30 on the ice again. As NHL commissioner Gary Bettman put it, “This banner will serve as a permanent reminder to future generations of fans that Martin Brodeur was truly one-of-a-kind.”
And, Brodeur was not only a “one-of-a-kind” goaltender; he was also a “one-of-a-kind” role model for children all over North America who adored the sport of hockey. Throughout a portion of his 21-year career in New Jersey as a sports icon (he spent half a season in St.Louis), Brodeur, a first-round draft pick in the 1990 NHL draft, called West Orange his home. As he commuted back and forth from the Llewellyn Park development to jam-packed ice rinks across the country, Brodeur made history each night. Ironically enough, as Brodeur ended his speech on his night, in front of his most loyal supporters, he thanked his fans for all of the memories, where fans should have instead been thanking him, according to a West Orange fan, who added, “to arguably one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time—thank you Marty, for your contributions to our community and the game of hockey.”
Jonathan Banks is a student at West Orange High School participating in a journamism program with TAPinto.net.
All photos taken by Jonathan Banks.