"Maybe because I'm getting older, but to hear last night that he was playing for his 16th season with the Devils, I can't imagine. The shutouts are the same way. He came along and all of a sudden he had in the 90s a few years ago. What?" -- Denis Brodeur
That day came Monday when Martin Brodeur, the youngest of Denis and Mireille Brodeur's five children, blanked the Buffalo Sabres, 3-0, to earn his 103rd career shutout, tying Sawchuk for an NHL record that for decades was thought of as unattainable.
"In my mind I said Martin has 90 or so shutouts, so I bought the picture with the frame, put away the frame and kept the picture," Denis told NHL.com by phone Tuesday morning.
Denis can finally pull that photo out of storage.
He has kept an opening on a wall in Martin's old bedroom, now his shrine to his son's Hall of Fame hockey career, in his modest house on Rue Mauriac in St. Leonard, QC. Once Martin picks up No. 104, Denis said he's going to hang his action photo of Sawchuk next to an action photo of his son and below will hang two photos of Martin holding his historic pucks, one scribbled with No. 103 and the other with No. 104.
"All the photos with the records are in there," the proud papa said.
Tuesday morning, as Denis recounted the story of buying the Sawchuk photo and why he did, he found himself wondering how all this has happened so fast.
"Maybe because I'm getting older, but to hear last night that he was playing for his 16th season with the Devils, I can't imagine," Denis said. "The shutouts are the same way. He came along and all of a sudden he had in the 90s a few years ago. What?"
Monday night, Denis and Mireille were in their usual spots when a Devils game is on: On the couch, glued to their television, nearly shaking from all the nerves.
The game was going along like hundreds they have seen in the past. The Devils were limiting the shots against, their son was doing his best to play the puck so he could stay focused and warm, and the Devils cashed in with an odd goal here and there.
"He didn't get many shots, but he came out in the first two periods and was making a lot of passes so he stays warm," Denis said.
It was 3-0 just 20:39 into the game. By the end of the second period, the Sabres had only 12 shots. Martin was perfect.
Twenty minutes to go. Twenty minutes until he finally ties this record.
"I had a good feeling with about 10 minutes to go, but it was the third time like that," Denis said. "The commentator (Mike Emrick) says with five minutes to go, 'It looks like he could get it,' and I'm like, 'Don't say that.' I remember in Toronto the guy said that and the moment after he said it Martin gave up a deflection goal."
Even so, Denis couldn't shake his feeling that Monday was going to be the night for shutout No. 103, "because they were storming the net and it was hitting somebody beside the net or Martin would stop it," he said. "Sometimes, you can almost feel a shutout."
And, when the final buzzer sounded and their little boy pumped his fists?
"Well, we jumped," Denis said. "After 16 years like that, it's the same old thing, I'm nervous each game and want him to do so well, but eventually he does it."
Soon after the game ended, the phone inside Denis' and Mireille's house was ringing. It was, of course, an elated Martin calling home. Mom and dad offered their congratulations, but within a minute the conversation turned to family talk.
"About his kids, his new baby boy (Maxime), stuff like that," Denis said. "I saw him on the TV and I think he had a 12 minute interview with everybody so he must be tired of talking hockey. And, Martin never talks about records."
Denis does, but what he loves even more than that is displaying them through images.
He has a new collage to work on. Finally, that empty spot on the wall above the bed in Martin's old room can get filled.
"Not too bad, eh?" Denis said. "It's a special day."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org