NEWARK, N.J. -- Before Martin Brodeur has his No. 30 retired by the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday prior to their game against the Edmonton Oilers (8 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNOL, MSG, NHL.TV), he had the pleasure of instructing a few future hockey stars during a junior clinic at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Saturday.
Brodeur, retired NHL goaltender Chico Resch and several USA Hockey coaches were on the ice working with approximately 40 children 12-and-under who play youth hockey in New Jersey. Brodeur also was on hand to drop the ceremonial puck prior to the Devils' matinee against the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center.
"It was great," Brodeur said. "Every time you go through clinics like this and see some young goalies, it brings back some good memories. I've done it so much with my own kids and two of them (Anthony and Jeremy) are goalies, so I've spent a lot of time. To see the faces on these kids and their excitement; I don't know how much they know about me, but I'm sure their parents might have told them."
Eli Pawlika of Glen Rock was one player who had a good idea about the legacy Brodeur left after 20-plus seasons with the Devils. "It was great to see Marty and Chico out there," Pawlika, 11, said. "It was really cool to see him in person. I've learned a lot more about Marty and you always hear that he's such a nice guy, but meeting him in person confirmed that for me. I learned so much about goalie stance."
The clinic, which lasted 45 minutes, concluded with a question-and-answer session with Brodeur at center ice. "I saw the rise of hockey in New Jersey first hand with my kids, going around all the minor hockey rinks around the state, and it was great," Brodeur said. "Hockey in this state is really healthy. The Devils are doing a great job with [the grassroots] part to promote the game, help these kids and have days like [Saturday]."
Pawlika plays goalie for the North Jersey Avalanche out of the Ice House in Hackensack. "[Brodeur] helped me a lot on when to go down into the butterfly and the certain positions you have to use," Pawlika said. "He was really nice. I'm used to my coach being on hard on me, so this was a nice change."
Brodeur was impressed with how attentive the players were during the clinic.
"It was definitely more listening when I spoke when I was talking one-on-one with them," Brodeur said. "They had a few questions here and there but nothing big. They were a little shy, and I would be, too."
When Brodeur announced his retirement as a player, he joined the Blues front office as a senior adviser in January 2015 and signed a three-year contract to become assistant general manager on May 20, 2015. He is in New Jersey to partake in several engagements prior to the ceremony.
"This weekend means a lot," Brodeur said. "It's a long weekend with a lot of stuff to do and going to end up having my jersey retired. I'm excited about it. I can't say it brings closure because I'm in a happy place in St. Louis with what I'm doing now. But definitely for the side of my playing career, it's a great honor. When you play hockey, you don't expect things like this to happen because you just want to play hockey, so for me to be recognized like this is very special for my entire family."
The process of arranging a day to celebrate Brodeur's 21 seasons with the Devils was in the works for quite some time. Lou Lamoriello, who was Devils general manager before accepting the same position with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 23, made public before his departure from New Jersey that Brodeur eventually would get his due at the appropriate time.
Lamoriello was the architect of the three Stanley Cup championships with Brodeur during his 28-year tenure as president/GM in New Jersey and will be in attendance Tuesday.