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Fitting finish to Brodeur's seasons of highs and lows

by John Dellapina
SAINT-LEONARD, Quebec -- What might have been the most tumultuous and exhilarating season of Martin Brodeur's storied career was brought to a fitting conclusion today –- in the place where it all began for the legendary New Jersey Devils goaltender.

At a lunchtime ceremony in the local hockey rink where he learned to skate and where he first tended goal -- a rink that has since been renamed for him -- Brodeur was honored with a proclamation from the north Montreal town of Saint-Leonard, the medal of the Province of Quebec and a bronze bust and plaque presented by the National Hockey League.

The plaque, which commemorates Brodeur's March 17, 2009, setting of the NHL's all-time record for victories by a goaltender, will hang forever in Saint-Leonard's Arena Martin Brodeur. Today, with his family and friends by his side,  Brodeur accepted the plaque and the accolades from local dignitaries -- including Saint-Leonard Mayor Michel Bissonnet.

"This is really special," Brodeur told, standing before the glass-enclosed case in the arena's atrium that is filled with photographs of his exploits, game-worn jerseys and other memorabilia. "Every time you get recognized, you think of the people who made it all possible for you -- the people who brought you to life, really. These are the people who really gave me a chance to play the game."

Similarly honored in New Jersey at the statehouse in Trenton three weeks ago, Brodeur was especially touched by the outpouring of affection he received from the longtime friends and neighbors he sees all too infrequently anymore.

"Especially for me, this is special because we always took a lot of pride in being from Saint-Leonard," he said. "I can't really call this arena by name -- I'll always call it 'Arena Saint-Leonard.' But for the kids just starting out now, they know it by my name. That's special."
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