It was another rainy morning in what has been a gloomy June, but inside the New Jersey State House, Martin Brodeur
got his day in the sun.
Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time wins leader, was honored Thursday in Trenton with a resolution proclaiming it “Martin Brodeur
Day” in New Jersey.
“It’s a great honor for me to be here today,” Brodeur said. “It’s an amazing thing for me and for the organization at the same time. We take a lot of pride in playing for New Jersey and being the New Jersey Devils – Jersey’s Team – so to get recognized is quite an honor for me. I’m sure I’m speaking for all the players that do come through New Jersey, we love it here.”
Cheers went up first in the State Assembly, then the Senate, as Devils fans clad in red and black packed the balconies to welcome Brodeur. More than 300 fans boarded a New Jersey Transit train with Devils Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek, Co-owner Mike Gilfillan and President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello for the one-hour ride from Newark to Trenton to witness the proceedings.
Devils alumni Ken Daneyko, Grant Marshall and Rob Skrlac also attended, as did team radio broadcasters Matt Loughlin and Sherry Ross.
“We’re just so honored to be invited down here for this day,” Vanderbeek said, adding that he enjoyed meeting with fans on the train. “It’s a tremendous group of passionate fans that are proud to wear the ‘NJ’ on their chest. This is Jersey’s Team, and we’re just thrilled to be here, thrilled to recognize Marty, and thrilled to recognize his accomplishments.”
Brodeur won his 552nd game on March 17, surpassing Patrick Roy for the new League record. He finished the season with 557 career wins, and needs three shutouts to surpass Terry Sawchuk for the NHL’s all-time mark (103).
The future Hall of Famer grew up in the Montreal suburb of St. Leonard but came of age in the Garden State. A West Orange resident, Brodeur said he spends 10 months a year in New Jersey and returns to his native Quebec for vacations.
“I’ve been here for so long, New Jersey’s home,” Brodeur said. “The fact that I wanted to stay here and I love being a part of this organization and living in New Jersey, how nice it is for me to be an athlete. It’s hard to believe because I’m from Canada, but I’ve been in one place for so long, and my whole adult life has been here.”
There were spontaneous chants of “Marty, Marty,” and “Marty’s better” as assemblymen and senators saluted Brodeur.
“I’m proud of the accomplishments of Marty Brodeur and what he has accomplished to bring a tribute to the honor of the New Jersey Devils – the only professional sports team to include New Jersey in their logo,” said Assemblyman Frederick Scalera. “I’m proud to be here on Marty Brodeur Day.”
Brodeur was selected 20th overall by the Devils in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, and has never known another NHL club. He said Thursday that he enjoys the athlete’s life in New Jersey, as well as the proximity to divisional opponents. The Rangers and Islanders are within driving distance, while Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are short plane rides away.
“It comes down to hockey and it’s a great place to play hockey,” Brodeur said.
Brodeur didn’t necessarily set out to play 15 seasons with one team, but followed the example of teammates like Daneyko, who spent two decades with the Devils. Together, Brodeur and Daneyko won three Stanley Cup titles.
“When I started to play, Daneyko was a part of the organization, and I thought it was amazing for an athlete to stay in one place for his whole career,” Brodeur said. “I got to know him really well, and saw how people treated him because of it.”
|Left to right: Jeff Vanderbeek, Martin Brodeur and Mike Gilfillan at the State Assembly. |
Brodeur continued: “It’s a pride thing. There’s not many athletes that do it now, especially in this era of sports.
The Devils’ former practice facility at South Mountain bears the name of Senate President Richard Codey, who spoke Thursday about what Brodeur has meant to the state.
“For what he’s done, I think what I’m proudest of is that he’s a New Jersey resident with a team that says New Jersey,” Codey said. “The fact that they play in New Jersey, they play in Essex, my home county, and the fact that he’s a class act in every way shape and form.”
Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., echoed Codey’s praise.
“New Jersey is a far, far better place because of what Martin has done, and the pride he has shown in our great state and our great team,” Kean said. NJD NOTES
During a brief media session, Brodeur was asked about the Devils' head coaching vacancy. The team has yet to name a replacement for Brent Sutter, who resigned for family reasons on June 9.
"The decision, I know, will be the right one," Brodeur said. "I have a lot faith in Lou (Lamoriello) and the hockey people that we have to bring in the right guy for the right circumstances. I thought we did some great things last year with some of the young players playing the way they did. My concern is that we don't stop there."
Brodeur on Sutter: "He brought a lot of good things. Brent was an excellent coach for us, and it's too bad that he had to leave, but it is what it is, and we can't control that too much. So we're looking forward to a new coach now, we can't dwell on what happened."