He may be manning the St. Louis Blues’ front office but Martin Brodeur will always be remembered as a New Jersey Devil, and the Devils are set to make sure no one ever forgets the legendary netminder in New Jersey when they honor him on Feb. 9. When the Edmonton Oilers roll into the Prudential Center for the early February contest, the Devils will pay tribute Brodeur, who played in New Jersey from 1993 until 2014. Over the weekend of festivities, the Devils will also unveil a statue of the surefire Hall of Famer. “I don’t think you can honor a hockey player better than retiring his jersey,” said Brodeur. “And even better, a statue now. I’m going to have to talk to that guy and make sure he puts it on my good side. It’s a great honor. I’ll be beside the three defenseman (Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer) who really helped me out to be the goalie that I was.”
Brodeur’s story in New Jersey began at the 1990 draft, where the Devils selected him 20th overall. When asked what his memory was from his draft day, some 25 years later, Brodeur recalled that he wasn’t exactly sure about what he was about to get himself into. “Well, I didn’t know where New Jersey was,” Brodeur laughed. “But my agent was happy. ‘Oh, that’s American dollars! It’s good.’ I had no clue exactly what I was getting into. My father told me, ‘You’re a number, a player, in one organization, so it’s up to you to get that number to be the No. 1 eventually.’ But that night, I had no clue, I was just happy to get drafted.” He got to that No. 1 spot quickly, though. In his first season with the Devils, Brodeur won the Calder Trophy and finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting, which was a sign of things to come. Before his career was through, Brodeur captured four Vezinas and five Jennings Trophies for backstopping the team with the fewest goals against. From the 1995-96 campaign until 2007-08, Brodeur finished no lower than fifth in Vezina voting.
Brodeur is far and away the most legendary Devil of all-time, holding 24 league records in a plethora of goaltending categories. He is the Devils all-time leader in wins, shutouts and is second all-time, behind only defenseman Ken Daneyko, in games played for New Jersey. League-wide, he has played more games (1,266) than any goaltender in NHL history, and holds the record for wins (691) and shutouts (125). “To be able to beat the record for the most wins, in this building in front of our fans, was probably the biggest highlight (of my career),” Brodeur said. Brodeur led the Devils to three Stanley Cups and five Eastern Conference championships during his 21-year tenure in New Jersey. Arguably his greatest post-season came during the Devils’ third Stanley Cup in 2002-03, the height of the Devils’ trap era, when Brodeur posted a 16-8 record, .934 save percentage, 1.65 goals-against average and seven shutouts. Were it not for the play of Anaheim netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who led the then-Mighty Ducks to the final, there’s little doubt Brodeur would have captured the Conn Smythe Trophy. “I was fortunate to play on great teams,” Brodeur said. “These guys worked really hard, we were well managed to accomplish what we did. Some years we didn’t win the Stanley Cup, but we were competing for it and it was awesome as a player knowing every year you had a chance to do something.” Now serving as assistant GM with the Blues, Brodeur will become eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018. Expect him to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And for those still asking the age old question — who’s better: Brodeur or Patrick Roy — Brodeur had the answer. “The stats tell,” quipped Brodeur.