NEWARK, N.J. -- The fond memories of shinny hockey outdoors with dad are still fresh in the mind of New Jersey Devils draft pick Anthony Brodeur.
"A few years ago, we were up in Canada for Christmas and I remember playing hockey on the lake with him a lot," Brodeur told NHL.com. "There were a lot of other family members there as well. It was a great time."
Brodeur did note that neither he nor dad, Martin Brodeur, served as goalie that day while at the family cottage in Quebec.
"We just played with smaller nets," he said.
The 19-year-old goalie, currently starring in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the same position his father has become an NHL legend for the Devils, doesn't take those moments for granted.
Anthony is now looking forward to watching his future Hall of Fame father take the infield ice at Yankee Stadium on Sunday against the rival New York Rangers in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC). While he won't be able to attend the game at the stadium to see it live, he knows it will have special meaning, particularly if his father is named the starter.
"He's extremely excited," Anthony said. "Dad's been wanting to do one of these since they started doing the Winter Classic, so I'm sure he's happy the Devils finally got into one."
Martin Brodeur acknowledged his excitement over the team finally getting an opportunity to play a regular-season game in the great outdoors. The fact the opponent happens to be the Rangers is icing on the cake.
"I think it's a fun environment to be around," he said. "The fact we're talking about it, the fact we're going to be able to spend a day there practicing [on Saturday] and relaxing and having fun with our family, is great. The game is the game, but it'll be exciting for a lot of people to be a part of that."
Brodeur was asked about his days as a teenager playing outdoors.
"Every local park had its own ice rink in Montreal; you walk half-a-mile and there's a rink outside," Brodeur said. "So we played every single day, sometimes twice a day. We'd come back after dinner and play under the lights. We'd always have a shovel handy to scrape the ice. I wasn't the goalie back then; it was too cold. Now, I have no choice."
The Rangers and Devils have been separated by two goals or less in 17 of the past 24 meetings. The Rangers have registered a point in 27 of their last 38 games against the Devils since 2007-08 (23-11-4).
What makes the Devils-Rangers rivalry unique in the eyes of Martin Brodeur?
"It's our fans; players come and go but fans stay, teams stay," Brodeur said. "I think that's why the rivalry is so special. It's because it means a lot for the people who are rooting for each of the teams regardless if it's bragging rights until the next game or next season.
"Devils fans hate Rangers fans," he continued. "I'm not sure the Ranger fans hate the Devil fans that much, so it's kind of nice to win for them."
Brodeur compared it to when he gets an opportunity to face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre and much of his family is there witnessing the game among loyal Canadiens' fans.
"When I go to Montreal, I go there looking for a win just so my friends and family can have the upper hand on their fans," he said. "That's the same thing in the Rangers-Devils rivalry."
Brodeur's next victory against the Rangers will be the 50th of his career. He is currently 49-30-5 with 15 ties and nine shutouts in 99 career regular-season games against the Hudson River rival.
"We've been living in the shadows [of the Rangers] for most of my career," said Brodeur, 41, who is in his 20th season. "Just the fact that team is so old and has so much history and fan base is so broad compared to what we have, but I think the quality of the people following us is tremendous and you see it more as the years goes by."
The Devils have won the first three games of the five-game series against the Rangers this season and Brodeur has manned the cage for two of the three triumphs.
"When we do play the Rangers, you hear the noise when we score in the building," Brodeur said. "In the first few years, people were scared to go to that building [Madison Square Garden]. You can tell our fans are there and they're growing and passionate about us. The Rangers are the Rangers, though."
Anthony Brodeur, 10-8-2 with a 2.85 goals-against average, .889 save percentage and one shutout as a rookie for the Gatineau Olympiques this year, knows playing an outdoor game is one event that has eluded his father, until now.
"It's going to be awesome; it's one of those things that not many people get the chance to do and it's one of the only things I haven't seen him do yet," Anthony said. "It would have been pretty cool to be able to attend. I think when we were younger, we went to a few games [at Yankee Stadium] but I haven't been there in quite some time."
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Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer