NEWARK, N.J. -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby can recall like it was yesterday his NHL debut against one of the greatest goaltenders in the history of the game.
It was Oct. 5, 2005 at what was then known as Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., against New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. Crosby would finish his rookie season with 39 goals and 102 points, but Brodeur had his number on this day in a 5-1 win for the Devils.
"I had a great chance on my first shift and he made the save; that will always be a big memory for me," Crosby said. "When I look back on that moment, it's the only time I can remember smiling or laughing at missing a scoring chance. It was my first NHL game, my first shift and you get robbed by Martin Brodeur.
"It could be a lot worse."
Brodeur, who finished his career this season playing seven games for the St. Louis Blues, announced his retirement as a player at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday; he begins the next chapter in his life as senior adviser to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong.
The Penguins will play against the Devils at Prudential Center on Friday. Crosby and defenseman Paul Martin, who spent six seasons in New Jersey prior to joining the Penguins, took some time to reflect on the legacy left behind by Brodeur.
"It's tough to see [Brodeur retire]," Crosby said. "As a fan, you love to see a guy perform at that level and be that successful. Obviously he had some success against us, especially in Pittsburgh, so that's about the only part you won't miss. To see what he's done over his career is pretty amazing; you have a lot of respect for someone who has done that much. But obviously it's come time for him to move out of the game. It's never easy, but it was on his terms."
Martin was asked if he ever thought Brodeur would be announcing his retirement in a place other than New Jersey.
"He still has time to do that and his jersey will raise from the rafters," Martin said. "As a player you have that competitive drive to continue to keep playing, and if it wasn't going to be [with the Devils] you could see why it would be somewhere else. He has that hunger and love for the game, so I can see why people would want him to be here."
Crosby, who finished with one assist, three shots on goal and a minus-2 rating in a 5-1 loss against the Devils in his NHL debut, smiled when discussing Brodeur's work ethic.
"His compete level is something that will always stick out," he said. "In tight games, he thrived and he never gave up on a puck, even when he was down and out, he'd find a way to stop it. He had success against us and didn't allow many goals."
Brodeur finished 48-28-5 with nine shutouts in 84 career games against the Penguins.
"As the years have gone, by you begin to appreciate and realize how good he was," Martin said. "In my first year when I first saw him, you assume that's the way it is, but as the years go by and you play against other goalies you see how special he was, how he conducted himself and how he made guys comfortable. He was an extra defenseman out there.
"I'm a lot more healthy today because of Martin Brodeur. He had his own unique style, was a great locker room guy and was always good to me."