Martin Brodeur honoured by Devils with jersey retirement
Record-setting NHL goaltender praised as 'one of kind'
The New Jersey Devils retired Martin Brodeur's No. 30 jersey during a pre-game ceremony Tuesday night.
After serenading the NHL's winningest goalie with chants of "Mar-ty, Mar-ty, Mar-ty" and "Marty is better," the sellout crowd at the Prudential Center gave Brodeur a standing ovation that lasted more than two minutes and grew louder by the second.
The man. The myth. Our legend. <a href="https://twitter.com/MartinBrodeur">@martinbrodeur</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaluteMB30?src=hash">#SaluteMB30</a> <a href="https://t.co/ox5525n3IQ">https://t.co/ox5525n3IQ</a>—@NJDevils
Brodeur tried to start his thank you speech only to be drowned out by the roar. He eventually walked away from the podium and waved to the crowd, players from the Edmonton Oilers and Devils, who sat on their benches during the ceremony, and simply soaked it all in.
It was fitting for a man who set NHL records for games played, shutouts, playoff shutouts, number of 30- and 40-win seasons and most wins in a season.
While not in attendance, Arizona Coyotes forward Shane Doan paid tribute to Brodeur via video. They were teammates on Canadian squads at the 2004 World Cup (gold medal), 2005 world championship (silver) and 2006 Winter Olympics.
"Getting to play against you was incredible, playing with you was phenomenal." Doan on <a href="https://twitter.com/MartinBrodeur">@MartinBrodeur</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaluteMB30?src=hash">#SaluteMB30</a><a href="https://t.co/ays0za2vb1">https://t.co/ays0za2vb1</a>—@ArizonaCoyotes
The Montreal native changed goaltending in the NHL and turned the Devils from a "Mickey Mouse" organization, as Wayne Gretzky once called the team, into a three-time Stanley Cup champion.
This was Brodeur's night and he was the show for everyone in attendance.
It also was closure for the 43-year-old Brodeur, now an assistant general manager with the St. Louis Blues. After his speech, he walked with his family to the crease in front of the net and watched the banner bearing his No. 30 and his years with the team (1990-2014) get hoisted to the rafters.
After waving to the crowd with his goaltending stick raised, he walked to one corner of the arena and stood next to a statue of him that the team plans had position around the arena. With a final wave, he walked off the ice.
'As good as it gets'
"This is as good as it gets," Brodeur said after the ceremony. "I wish everybody that gets his number retired will go through a weekend like I did because it was a blast."
Longtime Devils announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick returned to host the ceremony on a stage that had five of the NHL's top trophies in front of it, including the Stanley Cup.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, and Brodeur's family were on the ice along with former Devils coaches Jacques Lemaire and Larry Robinson, goaltending coach Jacques Caron, and former defencemen Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko, the only three other Devils players to have their jersey retired.
Bettman, of course, was booed. But he also was right on point in thanking Brodeur for his service.
"Marty, you stopped the puck like no one before you and I dare say no one to come after you," Bettman said, later calling Brodeur: "The greatest goaltender in the history of this franchise, if not the history of this sport."
Lamoriello, now general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had one of the funniest lines before introducing a 5-minute tribute narrated by actor Keifer Sutherland.
The architect of the Devils' rise to the top of the NHL, Lamoriello was greeted by chants of "Louuuu!"
After getting to the microphone he looked at Bettman and said, "Commissioner, that's not the same reaction you got."
Brodeur was selected 20th overall by New Jersey in the 1990 NHL entry draft and earned three Stanley Cups with the club, in 1995, 2000 and 2003. He became the fourth player in Devils history to have his number retired, behind defencemen Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and Scott Niedermayer.
In 2009, Brodeur passed Patrick Roy for the most regular-season wins by a goaltender with his 552nd, and he never looked back. He retired at the end of the 2014-15 season with a total of 691 wins — all but three with New Jersey.
Devils forward Patrik Elias paid tribute to his longtime teammate.
Patrik Elias: "You were a great leader & a great teammate. No doubt in my mind you were the heart & soul of this organization." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaluteMB30?src=hash">#SaluteMB30</a>—@NJDevils
Brodeur followed up his wins record by passing Terry Sawchuk to set the new bar for most regular-season shutouts with his 104th. He added another 20 before calling it a career.
Brodeur is tied for the fifth-most Vezina Trophy wins as the top goalie in 2002-03, 2003-04, 2006-07 and 2007-08.
He also holds the record for most single-season wins with 48 in 2006-07 and the most playoff shuts at 24. On top of all the NHL accolades, Brodeur is a two-time Olympic gold medallist (2002, 2010) with Canada.
Here's to you, <a href="https://twitter.com/MartinBrodeur">@MartinBrodeur</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZFOuQhcBsX">https://t.co/ZFOuQhcBsX</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SaluteMB30?src=hash">#SaluteMB30</a>—@NJDevils
With files from CBC Sports