For an organization that calls itself, “Jersey’s Team,” it should come as no surprise that what Martin Brodeur
’s most proud of is playing his entire career to this point as a New Jersey Devil.
Brodeur spoke to the media Tuesday morning at Prudential Center, just a few hours before he would don his pads, gloves and mask with a shot at becoming the winningest goaltender in National Hockey League history.
“To have a chance to do it in New Jersey is awesome,” Brodeur said. “The fans have been really supportive throughout my career here in New Jersey, and like I’ve said, it always seems that when I break records it’s on the road. It’d be nice, hopefully, to do this at home.”
Brodeur tied Patrick Roy’s all-time mark Saturday in Montreal, where the Devils topped the Canadiens, 3-1. He made 22 saves to register his 551st career win, and was set to face the Chicago Blackhawks at the Rock looking for a record-setting 552nd.
Known for his cool under pressure, Brodeur is doing his best to take this epic moment in stride. He has won seven of his first eight games back after missing four months with an elbow injury, and has the first-place Devils leading the Atlantic Division by nine points, just six points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference lead.
“People expect me to do it, I just don’t want to disappoint anybody,” Brodeur said. “I’d like to do it and get it over with, definitely. I don’t think that’s something you want to drag on for too long. But it’s a hockey game that I need to play, and I need to get myself focused. There’s a lot of distraction that comes with breaking the record. It is nerve-wracking to certain extent. I’m anxious about the game tonight and can’t wait to get on that plane to go to Carolina (Tuesday night).”
Brodeur’s game-day routine? As simple as they come: head back home, watch a little TV, grab a nap, then come back to Newark, where the Devils' faithful are sure to give him a hero’s welcome when he hits the ice for the pre-game warmups.
That Brodeur has spent his entire 15-year career right here in the Garden State is a tremendous point of pride for the Montreal native, who grew up a fan of the Canadiens. He has won three Stanley Cup championships and four Vezina trophies. He has set the single-season mark for wins (48, 2006-07) and posted 100 shutouts to move within three of Terry Sawchuk’s all-time mark.
And he’s done it all while wearing a Devils sweater.
“Staying in New Jersey for that long, and being able to do it with one team," Brodeur said when asked to pinpoint the accomplishment he’s found most gratifying. “One thing that I really cared about throughout my career is making that commitment to the Devils and being able to be successful at the same time.”
For Brodeur, no incentive to leave New Jersey could ever be as powerful as the one that has kept him here since he was chosen with the Devils’ first pick, 20th overall, in 1990. It’s an organization that opens every new campaign with a singular purpose: winning it all.
“Every time I came into a regular season or into a playoff, I thought I was going to win the Stanley Cup, and I’m serious when I say that: every single year,” Brodeur said. “You can’t ask for more than that from an organization. The thought of going somewhere else… my grass is green enough here. I don’t have to look for somewhere else.”
As much as he wants to take this next one and stand alone as the goalie with the most wins ever in the history of a 92-year-old League, Brodeur’s clear about one thing: No. 552, while special, is just part of a season-long journey that he hopes will end with a Devils victory sometime in June.
“We’re on good roll right now, we want to play well,” Brodeur said. “We know what’s at stake. We have a lot of games in hand on certain teams around us and will try to make some headway here. This is nice for me and for the team, but this is not the ultimate goal.”