Legendary. Amazing. Excellent. There are many terms that fans use to describe Martin Brodeur, but when the New Jersey Devils retire his No. 30 jersey on February 9, 2016, they’ll have to add “eternal” to the list. That night, before the Devils take on 2015 first overall draft pick Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, Brodeur will join Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and Scott Niedermayer as the fourth player to have his number retired by the franchise.
For fans attending the announcement on October 6, it was an exciting moment. “He’s my all-time favorite player,” said Ray Torella, a 47-year-old electrician from Bellville, who has followed the team since it moved to New Jersey. “I was in tears just watching everything today, and I know I will be on the day of his (number) retirement.” Dawn Klotz, an account manager from Morristown and 32-year season ticket member called it well-deserved. “I was excited for him,” she said.
Both longtime fans and the newer generation of Brodeur loyalists struggle to pick one Marty memory that stands out above the others. For some, it’s one of the Stanley Cups. For Torella, aside from the championships, it was watching Brodeur score a goal against the Montreal Canadiens on April 17th, 1997, the first of his three career goals.
Photo Gallery: Photos from the October 6 announcement
Brian Kalucki, a real estate appraiser from Newark who attended the first ever New Jersey Devils game as a 5-year-old, said Brodeur’s final game at Prudential Center where he saluted the fans at the end stood out. Kalucki also talked about a unique connection to the Devils legend. The same year Brodeur was drafted by the Devils, Kalucki joined the team’s youth program and was assigned No. 30.
Speaking to players and the fans, Josh Harris, owner of the New Jersey Devils, announced plans to erect a statue of Brodeur, standing proud on the grounds of Prudential Center. Working with sculptor Jon Krawczyk, the artist who designed the hockey figure on Championship Plaza, the team will also use the statue in a contest to give five fans the chance to submit a personal memento to be enclosed in the structure, using it as a time capsule.
Speaking in front of fans on Tuesday, Brodeur said that when he was drafted in 1990, he didn’t know where New Jersey was on a map. A little over 25 years later, after one of the most recognized careers in sports, Brodeur said, “it’s always nice to come back home.”