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Hall of Fame

Brodeur driven to Hockey Hall of Fame by love of game, Caron says

Former Devils goalie coach believes enjoyment led to longevity for NHL's all-time leader in wins, shutouts

by Jacques Caron / Special to NHL.com

Jacques Caron worked with Martin Brodeur for 20 NHL seasons as the New Jersey Devils goaltending coach and a special assignment coach. Under Caron's tutelage, Brodeur won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1993-94 and the Vezina Trophy as the League's best goaltender in 2002-03, 2003-04, 2006-07 and 2007-08, and he helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003. Brodeur retired in 2015 as the NHL's all-time leader with 691 wins and 125 shutouts. Here Caron, 79, shares his thoughts on Brodeur, who will go into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, in a special testimonial for NHL.com:

We knew Martin Brodeur was going to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was only a matter of waiting for the first year when he was eligible.

If anyone deserves it, it's him. Not just because of his career, but because of his personality, his leadership and his love of the game.

Here's a goaltender that has 125 shutouts and 691 wins. He has to be one of the best in NHL history.

I've worked with a lot of goaltenders and Marty seemed to never feel the pressure because he loved the game so much. I think that was the main reason he was able to play for 22 seasons.

He was the first guy on the ice and the last guy off. He enjoyed practicing. He enjoyed everything. He felt life on his skates. He felt like he was part of everything.

Video: Martin Brodeur owns many key career goalie records

With his love of the game, he had no fear. He arrived at the angles he should be at the right time because he knew the game and he was a smart goaltender.

We practiced the right things, but he was exceptional. He felt he could stop the puck before the shooter shot it. He could feel it. He knew it.

One thing about Marty is he never questioned anything that I talked to him about. He was very easy to work with.

The first time I met Marty was my first season in New Jersey in 1993-94. That first year, I talked to team orthopedist Dr. Barry Fisher and he said Marty had bad knees. He twice had surgery on his knees.

So, I said to Marty, "We'll change your ways a little bit and I think you'll play a lot longer because if your knees go on you, then you're done." He said, "Whatever you want."

When Patrick Roy was with the Montreal Canadiens he had so much success with the butterfly and, of course, all the kids in Canada tried to imitate a winner. When you see success, you try to copy it.

But not everybody has the same flexibility and the reflexes. Marty was kind of half a stand-up goaltender and half butterfly, maybe more than half butterfly.

For him not to be a butterfly goalie, I said, "We have to change a few things." He said, "OK. What I do I have to do?" So we started with mobility exercises and got him to move a lot faster and earlier on the angles and worked on holding his ground.

Video: Memories: Brodeur becomes all-time leader in wins

Marty was always good at handling the puck. It's one thing to go out to play the puck and another to know what to do with the puck when you go out. He seemed to read the play before he left the net. He didn't hesitate and get in trouble.

He knew where to handle the puck and to reverse it around the boards. He could read the plays.
When the NHL put the trapezoid behind the net in 2005-06 to limit where goaltenders can play the puck, it was because of Marty. They wanted him to stay in the net. They thought he was taking away from the flow of the game.

Of course, we practiced around the net, shooting the puck around the net. I'd skate around and he'd have to find me right away and pass it to me on the stick. He got so confident doing it and he was good at it.

Marty was so good with the puck that the forecheckers for the other team wouldn't forecheck as hard. That would help the defense a lot and they wouldn't get hit as much. If Marty went out to play the puck, the defensemen would peel off to the side and he'd give them the puck right away and we wouldn't spend a lot of time in our zone.

One of my best memories from my time working with Marty was his first season when he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. I was so proud of him because of the time he put in.

Then, winning the Stanley Cup in 1995, defeating the Detroit Red Wings in four consecutive games when we were the underdogs, I'll never forget that. I'd been around for so long and I had been waiting all my life to win the Stanley Cup, and to do it with Marty was special.

Marty had so much pride, but he was humble. A lot of athletes change personalities when they have a little success, but he never changed. He was every humble. He cared for his family. He cared for me.

He used to call me his dad. We were very close. He's the son I never had.

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