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Martin Brodeur discusses U.S.-Canada rivalry

Friday, 02.19.2010 / 7:45 PM / All-Access Vancouver

By John Dellapina - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Martin Brodeur discusses U.S.-Canada rivalry
Martin Brodeur, now a citizen of both Canada and the United States, talks with NHL.com about the hockey rivalry between the countries.
VANCOUVER -- The man who enabled Team Canada to escape with a shootout victory over Switzerland and will tend the Canadian goal on Rivalry Sunday against Team USA did not have to practice Friday. But he did have some business to attend to.

After chaperoning his children on an Olympic pin-trading expedition, Martin Brodeur accompanied his wife, Genevieve, to a local shoe store where they made a promotional appearance to draw attention to a limited-edition, Canada-themed pair of white boots that are being sold during the Games.

NHL.com caught up with Marty while Genevieve was paying for her boots and asked him to talk about the Canada-USA rivalry from the perspective of a guy who has played his entire NHL career in New Jersey and earlier this season became a U.S. citizen.

NHL.com -- How do you explain the hockey rivalry that had built up between the two countries?

Team Canada GearBrodeur -- Any rivalry I think goes with the amount of time we face each other. And that has built up over the years. We see it with Switzerland. Now, for Canada, it's starting to be a rivalry. And with the Americans, it's been years.

I mean, they took away something in '96 with the World Cup of Hockey. We didn't really face each other in Nagano (in the 1998 Olympics), but in 2002 we faced each other for the gold medal and we beat them. And after that we faced them in the World Cup in 2004 and had a chance to beat them. So I think, slowly, because of the matchups, we now have a rivalry with them. It's also because the NHL players are mostly American and Canadian and so you have teammates who you play in these tournaments. Plus, hockey is becoming more and more popular in the States.

I think the NHL has done a great job of building the sport as far as getting the people's attention and letting them know what's going on in hockey – especially when the powers meet each other. And the U.S. is believing that they're one of the powers. With us, just because we're from Canada, regardless of who we put in the lineup, people will say we're the favorite – even though we've only won one gold medal in the last 50-something years.”

NHL.com -- What about from the Canadian point of view? You recently earned your United States citizenship. Did you hear anything negative about that from Canadians?

Brodeur -- No, actually people were pretty nice. I think they understand the principle of it.

I think it's a different perception. I hear more about politics than hockey when people up here talk about the U.S. and say, "The big, bad U.S." That sort of thing. In the sport itself, I think everybody understands that a lot of Canadians are playing and living and loving living in the United States. It's a way of life to a certain extent in different areas of the country.”

NHL.com -- Your four children were born and raised in the United States. Are their allegiances divided here?

Brodeur -- I see my kids now at the Olympics and they say: "Daddy, how many medals do WE have?" And they're talking about Canada. And they're Americans.

I'm happy. Because I don't expect to hear that from them. They are Americans. And they grew up and at school went through the history of the Olympic Games as far as what went on with the USA, not really what's going on for Canada. They have no clue about that.

But they're here and they're pulling for the Canadians. That's pretty cool, you know?

NHL.com -- From your perspective, this is just hockey. Others view it differently.

Brodeur -- Yeah, but if you look at it: Look at Jamie (Langenbrunner, Team USA's captain). He played his junior hockey in Canada. Same for a lot of kids from Michigan or Boston or New York. Look, there's a border. But that doesn't mean it's really a different way of living. It's playing hockey. It's enjoying the sport. It's winter sports and all that.

It's definitely interesting, because you can see a big movement in the States as far as young players coming in and being top players at an early age – the Kanes and Zach (Parise). How about James van Riemsdyk? I mean, this guy is from Jersey. His brother plays with my son!

It's a great future for the sport in the United States. And all the Canadian guys, we're all part of it. You go to any youth hockey rink and a tournament and you see Keith Primeau to Mario Lemieux's kid to Claude Lemieux's kids. We're all Canadian guys, and we're all in the organizations of American teams.

And that's hockey. You love the sport and you want to build it as much as you can so there's a future in it for the kids loving our sport.