The Energizer Bunny has nothing on New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur.
Because, like that infamous pink bunny that never stops, Brodeur never seems to run out of juice, either. He just plays and plays some more and wins and wins some more for the Devils. Yet he never tires or loses his edge.
Last season, Brodeur appeared in 78 of 82 regular-season games, one shy of the single-season mark set by St. Louis’ Grant Fuhr in 1995-96. In those 78 contests, Brodeur played 4,697 minutes, breaking his own record set in 2003-04.
Brodeur, 35, has appeared in 70 or more regular-season games for nine-consecutive seasons, the longest streak in NHL history.
“I don’t know what tired is,” Brodeur laughed. “I’m tired to get dressed and get on the ice, that’s about it. The game; are you kidding me? You dream all your life to play in front of 20,000 people and get a chance to win the Stanley Cup. It’s a great feeling.”
Winning games and chasing a fourth Stanley Cup championship, it seems, keeps Brodeur fresh. In the last 10 seasons, the Devils have 458 victories. Brodeur has a whopping 412 of them.
Those 458 victories, by the way, have delivered the New Jersey Devils seven division titles in the last decade. Only three other teams in the NHL -- Colorado, Detroit and Dallas -- have won seven titles since 1997-98.
In the postseason, Brodeur has started 152 consecutive games -- the longest stretch among goaltenders in NHL history.
“I think I have learned to play a lot of games, back-to-back, with a lot of traveling, because we want to win,” Brodeur says. “You know a little of the history with (team GM) Lou (Lamoriello), he wants to win every game. We’re not taking any days off.
“It just became the drive of winning, of being the highest seed possible, and the next thing you know, I’m playing a lot of games. I don’t think it was something that was planned. It was just because of the success we had, it made me be able to play that much, you know.”
Brodeur, though, might be the unlikeliest of workhorses in the League. He carries 215 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame and in a dressing room full of Charles Atlas-like bodies, Brodeur stands out for the almost non-athletic body shape he possesses.
“I’m not a workaholic as far as this working out,” Brodeur admits. “I just want to get myself in decent shape so the injuries don’t occur. Like I said, I’m a goalie. I’m there to stop the puck. I’m not fighting anybody, I’m not hitting anybody, I’m not out-skating anybody. That’s my philosophy of playing a little bit.”
It is a philosophy that has produced stunning results.
Brodeur is among the biggest stars in the game. Last season, he won 48 games, surpassing the long-standing record total set by Philadelphia’s Bernie Parent back in 1973-74. He led the League last season with 12 shutouts and now has 92 for his career, good for third on the all-time list.
His 494 career victories are second on the career list, just 57 victories behind Patrick Roy, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last year. Brodeur has played 148 fewer games than the 1,029 it took Roy to get to 551, so he is on pace to break the all-time record in considerably fewer games.
|"It's something that keeps you going because there are certain goals that you need to achieve to be on top of your game as far as winning and stuff like that."
-- Martin Brodeur
But Brodeur says records don’t motivate him. It is victory itself and what that means that pushes him to be the best season in and season out.
“Well, it's hard not to pay attention to (the records) because a lot of people will bring it up to me all the time everywhere I go,” Brodeur says. “The closer I'm going to get, you know, it's going to get -- it will be more emphasis on it.
”It's something that keeps you going because there are certain goals that you need to achieve to be on top of your game as far as winning and stuff like that. It makes a big difference for me because I'm able to do that and at the same time it helps my team. That's the beauty for goalies with their records, it's nothing personal. If I win, my team wins.”
And, winning remains the biggest high that Brodeur has experienced. The Devils enter each season with a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup. This season is no different. The Devils lost two marquee players – Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski – and have a new coach in the untested Brent Sutter. Yet, it would be folly to count New Jersey out.
Brodeur gives them an even-money chance to win on any night and he revels in that position of responsibility. He doesn’t want that dynamic to change anytime soon, that’s for sure.
“It's a matter of having fun playing the game,” he says. “Every year is a different challenge for us. When you get older, it definitely becomes a bigger challenge. You see young guys, and you take a lot of pride in trying to show these young guys the way to having success.
“I'm just scared to miss it when I'm going to be done, so that's why I'm enjoying every second that the Devils or any NHL team will give me the opportunity to play. I think that's what keeps me motivated, just the fun of the game. I think hockey's a great game. It's not work for me. Until I have that feeling about the game, I'll be playing.”
Just like the Energizing Bunny, in fact, Brodeur it seems will just keep going and going and going.
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