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Brodeur organizes Hall of Fame surprise

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Lamoriello with Bill Hay of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Martin Brodeur managed to keep it a secret, even from the Man of the Hour, himself.

But by the time Lou Lamoriello gave his speech at Monday's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, he knew that some of his players had made the trip to Toronto. Joining Brodeur were David Clarkson, Jay Pandolfo, Zach Parise, Colin White and captain Jamie Langenbrunner.

Former Devils Ken Daneyko and Slava Fetisov attended, as did assistant coach and 2007 Hall inductee Scott Stevens, who returned to New Jersey early Tuesday morning. Lamoriello was enshrined along with Brett Hull, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman.

"It was pretty special," Brodeur said. "The list of people that were there was impressive. He didn’t see us before, so somebody spilled the beans. It was still a surprise to him that we were there."

Brodeur wasn't sure how much Lamoriello, known for being detail-oriented, appreciated surprises.

"I think for that occasion probably not really," Brodeur said. "I think for that occasion he seemed pretty happy. We were happy just to be there and a lot of people from around the League came over to us and said, ‘It’s nice of you guys.’ You look at (Detroit Red Wing Nicklas) Lidstrom was there for Stevie and Luc and Brett and (Dallas Stars' captain) Brendan Morrow was there. There was a lot of active players going and doing that. It was a good night; it was fun."

Brodeur said plans for the Hall of Fame surprise began about two weeks ago after he and Langenbrunner figured there wasn't much they could get for the architect of the Devils' three Stanley Cup titles.

"Me and Jamie talked about what we were going to get him," Brodeur said. "Seriously, what are you going to get him? I said I’ll make a few phone calls, maybe we can just go and surprise him there. We called and asked Scotty (Stevens) about it for tickets and stuff, and he said it’s not that easy to get all that stuff. Six tickets right on the floor? Even though it’s two weeks ahead, it’s still last minute. But we scrambled, and good thing we’ve won a few Cups; we had a couple of people there. Everything worked out well."

The hard part was keeping it all hush-hush.

"It was just like, keep it quiet, and if we have to pay the consequences, so be it," Brodeur said. "He was really happy. He couldn’t believe it. It was fun. It was fun to see him and see everybody around him, his family, it was a lot of people."

Lamoriello acknowledged the attending players in his speech, adding, "I'm hoping that you spent a little of your money and chartered a flight so you can make curfew."

As for whether or not they did, Brodeur said, "Depends on what curfew is."

Brodeur, the winningest goaltender in NHL history and a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, had never been to the Hall before.

"This was my first time there, and it’s impressive," he said. "I had a good conversation with (Hall of Fame goalie) Johnny Bower, so it was pretty cool. (Louisville men's basketball coach) Rick Pitino was there, and Nieuwy (Dallas GM and former Devil Joe Nieuwendyk). I’ve seen a lot of guys because of things I’ve done in my career, but some of the guys, even though they’ve been playing a lot of years and don’t have that opportunity to meet everybody."

It was Parise's second trip to the Hall and his first since he was "seven or eight." He said it was a special night, all around.

"I guess it was a long time coming," Parise said of Lamoriello's induction. "Everyone expected it or knew it was going to come. But it was cool. Someone that you know, someone that you see every day, it’s a great honor and really well-deserved."

The Devils' leading scorer had hoped to keep the trip a secret until after the ceremony.

"Somehow he found out," he said "I don’t know who squealed, but he ended up finding out that we were there. Hopefully, we won’t get into too much trouble."

It didn't seem as though any consequences would result from the gesture.

"He seemed like he was really happy that we were there and that we showed up," Parise said. "He seemed really appreciative."

Langenbrunner agreed.

"I think he was," said the captain. "He never would've asked anyone to come and probably would never have OK'd anybody to come, but we did it and tried to honor him in our own way. I think he appreciated that."

Langenbrunner also watched two former teammates enter the Hall.

"For me, I was fortunate enough to play with a few of those guys, Hull when he was in Dallas, and Brian Leetch in the Olympics and World Cup," he said. "Just all the players that are there, it's pretty amazing seeing those guys honored. Being in that same building was a lot of fun."

Bryce Salvador returned to practice after a rest day on Monday, and will be in the lineup when the Devils host Anaheim on Wednesday. Brian Rolston did not skate Tuesday, but is expected to take part in Wednesday's morning skate. Johnny Oduya was not on the ice with the team following Monday's setback with his lower body injury, and is not likely to face the Ducks.

"Felt really good," Salvador said Tuesday. "I'll be back tomorrow."

Salvador came to the rink Monday for treatment.

"Just to make sure I rest the injury, if you want to call it that," he said. "Just to make sure everything's good."

Patrik Elias said he was sore after making his season debut in Friday's 2-1 win over the Islanders. The all-time leading scorer in Devils' history missed the first 13 games of the season after offseason groin surgery, and did not join the team for Saturday's trip to Ottawa.

"You feel a little weakness in that muscle; a little soreness that doesn't allow you to push off as hard as you can, even throughout the game," said Elias, who has practiced this week. "It's a little frustrating, but I guess it will just take time. You just have to get through it and at the same time, be smart. I think that we made the right decision on Saturday's game, I don't think I would be able to really go then."

The Devils visit Pittsburgh on Thursday, and play their third game in four nights when Washington comes to Newark on Saturday.

"I think we have to play it by ear," Elias said. "Just me, feeling even after the practices, I don't know. We'll see how much they'll be able to use me in the next games. It doesn't feel great, it doesn't feel like I can push 100% at all, but it's OK for me to play. It's a little bit frustrating to me because obviously I can't play to my full potential."

• Head coach Jacques Lemaire has seen his team allow the first goal in three straight games, and would like to reverse the trend. The Devils' resilient play has them on a five-game winning streak.

"I’m praying," Lemaire said. "The only thing is, the guys, if they get scored against, they elevate their game. They do that. It’s a good trait. A few times I could see it coming, but we can’t change it until they get a goal and then we raise our game and start to play. But we see it coming. What I’m saying is, we see the way we’re playing; not controlling the puck; not skating like we can; not making the plays; turning the puck over.  And they’re coming, they’re coming and we will address it, then address again, and address again, and all of a sudden, boom. Now they get back and they play. But it’s good they can do that; very good."

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