NEWARK, N.J. — Even after retiring, Marty Brodeur is still the face of New Jersey Devils‘ hockey.
The NHL’s winningest goaltender was back in New Jersey on Saturday to conduct a youth hockey clinic, talk about a career that earned the Devils three Stanley Cups and look forward to a statue unveiling Monday and jersey retirement Tuesday.
“When you play hockey, when you start, you don’t expect things like that,” said Brodeur, now the St. Louis Blues assistant general manager. “For me to be recognized is pretty special.”
Brodeur’s career was extraordinary.
Besides the Stanley Cups, he holds the league's regular-season records for goaltender for wins (691), shutouts (125), and games played (1,266). The son of the Montreal Canadiens team photographer is a four-time winner of the Vezina Trophy, a 10-time All-Star and a two-time Olympic gold medallist for Canada.
He also redefined the goaltending position with his ability to handle the puck, his athleticism and his hybrid style of play that left opponents guessing.
Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz, whose team was in New Jersey to play the Devils on Saturday, recalled seeing Brodeur at Utica in the minor leagues early in his career. His style was so unconventional that Trotz wasn't sure whether Brodeur would make it in the NHL.
The one thing that Trotz learned about Brodeur was his work ethic. He recalled a day coaching in Nashville, when Brodeur wasn't going to play that night. He looked out on the ice around 2 p.m., well after the Devils finished their morning skate, and Brodeur was still out there taking shots and working on his game.
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Brodeur smiled when asked about Trotz's comments on his style.
``My style, I didn't even know what style I am,'' Brodeur said. ``To this day, it's hard for me to tell you. I just tried to stop the puck. It didn't matter how. That's the way I went through, so players when they had a shot at me they didn't know what to expect, if I was going to go butterfly, if I was going to stand up, poke-check them or stack the pads.
``I tried to put as many things in my game as I could so it looked awkward for people, but in my madness I knew exactly what I was doing,'' he added. ``It was a little bit like Dominik (Hasek), but not as bad. For people watching the tapes it was a little different. For me, I was just a competitor. You out-compete the opponent and good things will happen.''
They did for Brodeur and the Devils.
Brodeur dropped the opening puck for Saturday's game.
``I'm getting good, it should land flat,'' Brodeur quipped.
He also had a sense of humour about a statue the Devils are putting up, especially if it is placed outside the Prudential Center.
``I am going to hire my own cleaning crew,'' he said.
Brodeur admits his 21-year-career with the Devils went fast.
``When you are done and you are looking back and think about things you (did), for me it was a great run,'' he said. ``I played on great teams for a great general manager (Lou Lamoriello) who gave us a chance to win every year.
``It was a little harder at the end, but every organization is going to go through that. It was fun. Again, I have no regrets. I had a blast. I made my home here, had my five kids here, New Jersey is a part of me.''