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Martin Brodeur

Jersey retirement pinnacle for Brodeur

Devils goalie never dreamed his number would hang in rafters

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- As a kid, former New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur would go to the Montreal Forum with his father, look up in the rafters and gaze in amazement at all the retired numbers.
  
Doug Harvey's No. 2, Jean Beliveau's No. 4, Howie Morenz's No. 7, Maurice Richard's No. 9, Guy Lafleur's No. 10 and Henri Richard's No. 11 would twist up there, way up there, flags further telling the story of the most storied franchise in hockey.
  
Brodeur couldn't fathom one day having his jersey hanging in the rafters of an NHL building. He never even dreamed of it.

"There is a reason why they're so high," he said Tuesday morning, "it's almost like it's unreachable."
  
Brodeur's No. 30 will be unreachable too, perhaps like so many of his NHL records.
  
The Devils will retire Brodeur's number in a ceremony prior to their game against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SNOL, MSG, NHL.TV). He'll be the fourth player to have his jersey number retired by the organization, joining defensemen Scott Stevens (4), Ken Daneyko (3) and Scott Niedermayer (27). 
  
"When I came to New Jersey there was none," Brodeur said. "For my first 15 years there was not one number up in the rafters. We started something good, we had a lot of success, and first came Scott Stevens. After that, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko. Now it's me. It's something pretty cool." 
  
The Devils have been celebrating Brodeur since Saturday, when he participated in the ceremonial puck drop between New Jersey goalie Cory Schneider and Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
  
There have been appearances and interviews, dedications and a statue unveiling. It's all given Brodeur a chance to reflect, and the team and its fans a chance to celebrate the player who is arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history, with a record 691 wins and 125 shutouts.
  
Brodeur, calm in his demeanor, as usual, is enjoying taking it all in and looking forward to being able to talk to the fans in his speech Tuesday. He even said he was hoping to surprise them, but with social media it's hard to pull that off.

Video: Devils unveil Martin Brodeur 'The Salute' statue
  
"I was thinking, 'What can I surprise them with?'" Brodeur said. "I came up with nothing."
  
So instead he's expected to speak from his heart.
  
"Throughout my career we've had a special relationship," Brodeur said of the Devils fans. "These guys were there in my rookie year to the last game I played. My first game, some guys were 2 years old, and now they're 25 years old. That relationship stayed, that bond that we had. It's not the biggest fan base, but it's one of the best ones because it's really personable. The fans that are here are true Devils fans. You see it when you travel around the League. When we played on the road they came over. Whenever the Devils set up events you would see them over and over. So you recognize these people because they're there every single year supporting this team."
  
Brodeur's biggest fan, his father, Denis Sr., won't be in attendance. Denis, the longtime team photographer for the Canadiens and a former goalie himself, passed away on Sept. 26, 2013 at the age of 82, having seen everything in his youngest son's career until the final season.
  
"We had a great relationship, so definitely it's kind of sad that he's not here with us, but I'm sure he's at a place right now that he's enjoying this," Brodeur said. "He's really proud for what I accomplished. My dad played hockey for a while, played in the Olympics, and never had a chance to live the life of playing in the NHL. I gave him that opportunity to live it through me and we had a blast."
  
Former teammates of Brodeur's are expected to be at the ceremony, including Daneyko, Stevens and Niedermayer. Jacques Lemaire, who coached the Devils to their first Stanley Cup championship in 1995, will also be in attendance.
  
"It's great that they're taking their own time to come and celebrate this day with me," Brodeur said. "I feel it's not just for me. I feel the fans, the organization, we're all part of the celebration. I played for a lot of years and made my home in New Jersey for 24 years now. It's something that you never expect as a hockey player, to get accolades like this, but when it happens it gives you the opportunity to look back on what you accomplished throughout all the years. My teammates are a huge part of it."
  
Brodeur was asked what it's like to be the face of New Jersey hockey. He initially deflected, saying there are other guys that can say that, like Stevens.
  
"I stayed the longest, I guess, so I got the title," he said. "But it's overwhelming. For me, I'm just a kid from Montreal that loved playing hockey. I came into a great organization and I got success early in my career. That followed a path and there's a lot of people that made that happen for me. I know I'm the one stopping the puck, but there's a lot of people in front of me that really helped me.
  
"If I'm the face, I'll take it, it's great and the statue will be there so people remember it, but I just wanted to play hockey and have fun. That's exactly what I was able to do."

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