Tuesday night at the Prudential Center in
New Jersey featured a raucous crowd who at one point stood and cheered for
nearly two minutes without stopping. It wasn’t for their Devils though, or at
least not all of them. The crowd was giving a standing ovation for hometown
hero, goalie Martin Brodeur. After a stunning 24-year career, 21 of which were
with the Devils, Brodeur has retired and New Jersey retired his number, 30,
along with him.
Widely regarding as one of the greatest
netkeepers to ever take the ice, Brodeur’s list of accomplishments reads like a
set of wishes for any star-eyed middle school kid with a pair of skates and a
stick. Three Stanley Cups, five Eastern Conference titles, 17 post-season
campaigns, two Olympic Gold Medals, and lives as the only NHL goalie with eight
40-win seasons. Four-time Vezina Trophy winner, five-time Jennings Trophy
winner, a Calder Memorial Trophy winner, and a 10-time NHL all-star, Brodeur
almost singlehandedly changed the Devils’ from a “Mickey Mouse organization”,
as Gretzky once called them, to Stanley Cup Champions.
It was fitting, therefore, that his number
be retired in appreciation for his impact, not only on New Jersey, but the game
itself. Brodeur’s impact went beyond his league records for wins, shutouts,
playoff shutouts, and games played. Many speculate that in 2005 the new rule
preventing goaltenders from playing the puck behind the goal line, save for a
small space behind the net, was implemented specifically because of Brodeur.
His abilities to handle the puck were so famous the rule was even nicknamed “The
Tuesday night’s crowd wanted to make sure
their favorite tender knew how they felt and the standing ovation was so loud
and long that Brodeur was prevented from giving his speech. Eventually the
throng allowed him to speak and Brodeur expressed gratitude towards teammates,
coaches, and, of course, the fans saying, “This is as good as it gets.” NHL
Commissioner Gary Bettman complimented Brodeur by calling him “the greatest goaltender
in the history of this franchise, if not the history of this sport.”
Standing with his family in the crease
Brodeur watched as his number and years with the team were raised high into the
air. With a final wave of his goal tending stick Brodeur left the arena.
The 43-year old goes back to work as the
Assistant General Manager for the St. Louis Blues but surely his heart will
always be right there where it belongs, with the New Jersey Devils.
Labels: Michael Quinn