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Jersey Retirement

Brodeur did best to enjoy last Devils game

Missing Stanley Cup Playoffs, desire to keep playing made it difficult

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

The New Jersey Devils will honor Martin Brodeur by unveiling a statue in his honor outside Prudential Center on Monday and retiring his No. 30 prior to a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. NHL.com is honoring Brodeur by taking a look back at his record-breaking and likely Hall of Fame career in a series of stories counting down to his jersey retirement ceremony.

Here is the story of Brodeur's last game with the Devils:

As much as everyone tries to put on a happy face and get all nostalgic, it's a sad time when an era of greatness comes to an end.
  
For Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, that happened April 13, 2014. It was Brodeur's 1,259th and final regular-season game with the Devils.
  
"No one really wanted to talk about it because it's a sad thing for any great player, for any great team, like Derek Jeter and one day Tom Brady," said Devils goalie Cory Schneider, Brodeur's teammate during that final season. "So you almost don't even talk about it, but then it's there."


  
And it was shocking, especially to the people that know him best.
  
"The writing was on the wall. But to have Marty there for so long, you could never really see that coming, his last game," said former Devils captain Scott Stevens, who was on the Devils' bench as an assistant coach in Brodeur's final season. "You couldn't fathom that as a fan, a coach or a player who played with Marty. You could never see it coming. But it happens to all of us."
  
Brodeur said he tried to soak it in as best as he could. But it was difficult.
  
He knew in his heart he wasn't done playing yet, a point he proved by signing with the St. Louis Blues the following season. But he also knew this was going to be his last game as a Devil because his contract was up and Schneider was the heir apparent.
  
The circumstances that led to him starting against the Boston Bruins in the 2013-14 regular-season finale also bothered him. The Devils were out of the Stanley Cup Playoff race for the fourth time in Brodeur's 20 full NHL seasons.
  
"We were playing for nothing. And you know me, I'm a competitor, so it was just playing because you have to play the game, the season has to go on," Brodeur said. "That was the part I didn't really like about that game."


  
But then Brodeur thought about the irony of the situation.
  
Schneider was better than him that season, and he played more. If the Devils needed to win that game to either get into the playoffs or secure a better playoff position, "I probably don't play, and I would have never enjoyed one last game," Brodeur said.
  
"I knew it was going to be my last game so I really enjoyed it."
  
He won it too, making 16 saves in a 3-2 victory against the Bruins. It was his 688th win with the Devils.
  
When it was over, Brodeur skated around and waved to the fans, who were standing and cheering and chanting his name. His teammates stayed on the ice, banging their sticks in appreciation. Brodeur left for a moment and came back to more cheers from his adoring fans, who were chanting, "Marty, Marty, Marty."
  
"It was special," Schneider said. "I think it was great for the fans. He had a really special bond with the fans there. Even now, a few years later, people come up to me and say, 'Well, I'm a Marty Brodeur fan.' It's not even, 'I'm a Devils fan,' it's a Marty Brodeur fan. That's what people say to me, which I think is pretty unique. You could tell that there was that relationship between him and the fans. So for him to be able to do that and for them to show their appreciation, it's a unique situation. Things work out for a reason, and they worked out well for that."

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