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Devils recall Brodeur as 'one of greatest goalies ever'

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

NEWARK, N.J. -- The news that St. Louis Blues goaltender Martin Brodeur is ready to retire didn't take many of his former New Jersey Devils teammates by surprise.

Those who played with Brodeur in New Jersey discussed one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history after practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Tuesday.

"I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive," forward Scott Gomez said. "I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever."

Brodeur will close his 22-year NHL career with a formal announcement at Scottrade Centre in St. Louis on Thursday. The 42-year-old was signed to a one-year contract by the Blues on Dec. 2 but had been away from the team the past two weeks on a leave of absence. He will remain with the Blues for the remainder of the season in a management role.

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello acknowledged that the door will always be open for Brodeur to return to the organization.

"He could have come back even now if he wanted to, but this is something he and I talked about," Lamoriello said. "He made a commitment to St. Louis. They gave him a chance and players asked him to stay, so he'll travel with the team and be in the coaches' meetings with players. He might even find out whether he likes this business or not, who knows?"

Asked if he expects Brodeur's No. 30 to be hung in the rafters at Prudential Center, Lamoriello said it's just a matter of time.

"He accomplished so much as an individual, but as a team member, that's what was important to him," Lamoriello said. "Winning is what mattered to him and throughout his career. All you should do is compare his position to the role of a quarterback and what they mean to an organization. That's what Marty meant to us."

Forward Jaromir Jagr, who ranks sixth on the NHL list with 714 goals, spent one season with Brodeur in 2013-14. Jagr admitted that one NFL quarterback he'd compare to Brodeur would be Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos because each was able to adjust his game over time.

"What made him special was the fact he was a goalie, plus half a defenseman," Jagr said. "With the style he played and the way he handled the puck, he never got into trouble. He helped himself in that way, and you didn't have to spend too much time in the zone.

"I've played hockey longer than anybody, almost 30 years, and I know how important it is to have a goalie who can handle the puck and pass it to the forwards; it makes such a difference. When we played against him we had to change our dumps and do it differently, even on the power play."

Since the day Brodeur was recalled from Saint-Hyacinthe Laser of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to play against the Boston Bruins on March 26, 1992 because Chris Terreri and Craig Billington were ill, Brodeur established himself as arguably the best to play the position, setting many NHL records.

"He was just so laid-back, kind of like [Carey] Price," Gomez said. "You could always joke around with him on the ice. You took for granted how great he was just because of the fact you saw it every day. He'd make saves in games that he would make five times in practice."

Brodeur’s unique style helped him set NHL goaltending records in games (1,266), wins (691), shutouts (125), consecutive 20-win seasons (12), consecutive 30-win seasons (12), and consecutive 40-win seasons (three).

He won the Stanley Cup three times with New Jersey (1995, 2000, 2003).

"He's one of the best goalies to ever play the game," said forward Patrik Elias, who spent 18 seasons with Brodeur as his teammate, the longest of any New Jersey player.

"What made him so special was probably the winning attitude, having fun even during games, and his ability with his stick," Elias said. "He was the best with making plays, and as a goalie, for me as a longtime teammate, it was fun playing with him. He'll probably end up being in the top two or three goalies to ever play this game."

Defenseman Andy Greene, who spent eight seasons with Brodeur, agreed.

"He's a Hall of Famer; one of the best to play the position of all time, was great in the locker room and the way he practiced was contagious," Greene said. "You enjoyed competing with him because of the way he worked and the effort he put in. The three goalies that jump out at me off the top of my head who were generational stars were Marty, Patrick Roy and [Dominik] Hasek."

There was one other important thing that separated Brodeur from the rest.

"He never blamed anybody," Jagr said. "Teammates and the defense appreciated to play for him. He'd blame himself first before anyone else."

Goaltender Cory Schneider said he is grateful to have had an opportunity to partner with Brodeur in 2013-14.

"It is tough when you see an iconic guy hang them up, but the mark he has left on the game will never go away," Schneider said. "I'm sure I'll tell my kids I played with one of the greatest goalies of all time. He and Roberto Luongo were two of the best I had the pleasure to play with. Marty was better than the best."

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