Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Brodeur Caps Career as No. 30 is Retired

Martin Brodeur was not the starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils when the franchise moved east from Colorado in 1982. He had just been there so long it seemed that way.

Tuesday night, his No. 30 Devils jersey was raised to the rafters and retired for all time at the Prudential Center in Newark, a place Brodeur helped build after bringing three NHL championships to the Devils’ former home in the Meadowlands. On Monday, an 11-foot-high bronze statue of him saluting the crowd in full goaltending regalia was unveiled at The Rock, and was briefly positioned near the ice surface as he gave Devils fans one final salute to close the book on his storied professional playing career

That career actually began with a one-game stint out of junior hockey in Quebec when he bested Boston, 4-2, in East Rutherford during the 1991-92 campaign. He took over the Devils’ crease full-time in 1993-94, winning the Calder Trophy that year as the NHL’s top rookie while also backstopping New Jersey to within one goal of the Stanley Cup Final, and made that blue rectangle his personal province for the next two decades.

Although he wasn’t a former NCAA netminder, Brodeur was undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever put on goalie pads, and retired last year as the NHL’s all-time leader with 691 career regular-season victories and 125 shutouts, to go with 113 playoff triumphs and 24 shutouts. He spent his first 21 NHL seasons with the Devils, winning three Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies, and five Jennings Trophies, before closing out his career last season with a seven-game stint with the St. Louis Blues, with whom he now serves as assistant general manager.

One of the game's best stickhandling netminders, Brodeur also scored posted three goals and added 58 assists in NHL play. A two-time Olympic gold medalist with Canada (2002, 2010), Brodeur also guided his native country to a World Cup crown in 2004. 

On a personal note, I was fortunate to watch him play live many times, especially over the last 14 years of his career in New Jersey. That included the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he registered seven shutouts, including three in the final against Anaheim, in leading New Jersey's only true professional sports franchise to its third league title. It’s hard to believe he won’t be guarding a Garden State crease anymore.

Thanks, Marty. Congratulations and good luck.

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