After 691 wins and 125 shutouts in 1,266 career games, Martin Brodeur is hanging up his skates for the last time. He will announce his retirement this Thursday and take a front office position with the St. Louis Blues according to several sources.
I do not want to just post a bunch of stats here. I feel that this post should be a lot more personal than that. Marty Brodeur meant too much to Devils fans and the organization to reduce him down to simply numbers. Marty is one of the all-time best, any hockey fan worth their salt can tell you that. But he also meant so much more. He was the face of the New Jersey Devils for years. A team that had no identity when it was in Kansas City, Denver or even for much of its early time in East Rutherford suddenly had a phenomenon on their hands when Marty came up and took over the starting goaltender spot in the 1993-94 season, he won the Calder Trophy that year as NHL rookie of the year. That year was a magical one. The Devils best year to that date and the emergence of this great superstar goalie that would eventually lead the team to the promised-land three times. Even the game 7 Eastern Conference Final loss to the Rangers could not dampen what that season meant to the New Jersey Devils. The fact that they came back the following year and won the Stanley Cup made things a little bit better, though.
Marty is a three time Stanley Cup champion, he is a four time Vezina Trophy winner. But more importantly, he put the Devils on the map. Suddenly, fans in the hockey hotbed of Quebec were not growing up fans of the legendary Montreal Canadiens. Many kids in that hockey-mad Canadian province, where the sport is almost a religion, grew up fans of Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. Aspiring NHL goaltenders like the Devils own Keith Kinkaid grew up worshipping this man. The stories are the same everywhere. I, personally, feel blessed to have gotten to see the man play live and on television countless times over the last 20-plus years. I was a Devils fan prior to Marty’s emergence, but he cemented it for me. Martin Brodeur is a legend. Period. (Not that anyone would argue any differently. I have seen Ranger fans come out to pay their respects to this man’s career across the Internet. Honest to God Ranger fans.)
What Martin Brodeur has meant (and will mean in the future) to this franchise is immeasurable. Sure, the numbers are great and they make up part of (if not most of) the story. But those intangibles: his cool-under-pressure attitude, his ability to handle the puck like a third defenseman and his leadership qualities in the locker room are also part of the story.
Martin Brodeur is part of my story. And if you are a Devils fan, most likely he is a part of yours too. Lou Lamoriello has said that Marty will always be a Devil and will, most likely, return to the Devils in some capacity next season. By this time next year, his number “30” will likely be hanging from the rafters of Prudential Center. It will be a great night and one that I am very much looking forward to. But Martin Brodeur will always be more than a number. He will forever be a legend. Respected by all, no matter your NHL affiliation or rooting interest and embraced by those who love the New Jersey Devils.