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STALL MATES: Martin Brodeur's Unusual Welcome to the NHL

The future Hall of Famer's first NHL locker room experience was him alone, no one else around to be found

by Amanda Stein amandacstein /

Martin Brodeur sat quietly in the Devils locker room and looked around.

Not a soul in sight. No players, no staff, nothing and nobody. 

Welcome to the NHL?

He had just received the call, his first-ever call-up to the NHL. 

There was no major greeting for the eventual backbone of the franchise and Hall of Famer, just a stall in an empty locker room. 

"I didn't expect anything," Brodeur recalled. "I really just showed up to the rink, and there was nobody there."

Being his first call-up Marty thought maybe he was being pranked by the team, a 'Welcome to the NHL' kind of moment. He just sat there in the locker room, his hockey bags with him, and waited. 

"I was just by myself. I had just come in from a flight from Montreal. And now all the trainers, equipment guys, like everybody (was gone). I was just by myself, I thought it was a prank or something."

In fact, it wasn't, it was just the team photo day, and everyone had already left to take their spots on the risers on the ice. As familiar as Brodeur would become with the Devils home buildings, this was his first introduction. 

"I thought (to myself) am I at the right place here," he said. "You know, my English wasn't great at the time." 

If that was his first encounter, soon after he would become the leading man in the locker room with a firm grasp on the English language and using his native-French to joke around with others. 

Brodeur's long-time goalie coach, Jacques Caron, is also from the province of Quebec. The two would communicate in their native French language, it was only natural, but it could leave others on edge. Between periods, the two could be seen and heard talking in French, no one really knew what they were talking about. 

"My goalie coach would just come up and ask me like how I was feeling and what we need to change or whatever. And, you know, it was just my own opinion."

The discussion would take place in French and once the two would finish talking Caron would turn around to the entire dressing room.

"He would turn around and tell the team (what I had said) and guys are just always shaking their heads because of that," Brodeur said with a laugh. "You know, as the goalie coach, you never blame your goalie. So, it was never my fault, it was always somebody's fault."

Knowing that Caron would do this, sometimes Brodeur and Caron would have a little fun of their own.

"The funniest part was, he kept talking to me a lot and he would say 'cinq' over and over, which is the number five in French.

A little prank, if you will, on his teammate Colin White who wore the number five and knew some basic French, at the very least he knew his numbers and knew that his number was pronounced 'cinq.' A perfect opportunity for Brodeur to have a little fun with one of his defensemen. 

Brodeur said he'd glance in White's direction, just to make White even more nervous, make him think that they were talking about him. 

"He would turn around and go what are you guys saying, are you talking about me," Brodeur recounted while laughing at the memory, adding that it was all in good fun. Just a good group of guys having fun with one another.

A far cry from a Martin Brodeur sitting alone in a locker room, wondering if he was in the right place.

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