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Jersey Retirement

Chance to pass Roy made wins record special for Brodeur

Devils goalie cherished opportunity to surpass his idol

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

The New Jersey Devils will honor Martin Brodeur by unveiling a statue in his honor outside Prudential Center on Feb. 8 and retiring his No. 30 prior to a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 9. 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 tying and breaking Patrick Roy's record for most wins: 

The setting was surreal, the feeling euphoric.

Nearly 23 years after cutting school on a warm June day to stand on the corner of Ste-Catherine and Peel streets in Montreal so he could see goaltender Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens parading down the street with the Stanley Cup, Martin Brodeur was in a building not far from that very spot attempting to break his idol's NHL record.

It was March 14, 2009. Brodeur was sitting on 550 wins, needing one more to tie Roy for the most in NHL history. The New Jersey Devils were in Montreal. So was Roy.

"You couldn't write a better script than that," Brodeur said. "I'm there and I'm like, 'What a great opportunity.'"

Brodeur seized it, making 22 saves in a 3-1 win to tie Roy at 551. Three nights later, back home at Prudential Center, he broke the record with 30 saves in a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was St. Patrick's Day.

Brodeur finished his NHL career with 691 wins, 140 more than Roy, who remains second on the all-time list. The closest active player is Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers, who has 424 wins.

"I knew it was going to happen, but the script was so nice," Brodeur said. "If I don't win that one in Montreal, I can tie it in New Jersey against Chicago, and after that, we're going on the road and playing in Carolina the next day. Not the same. Everything worked out perfectly."

Record-breaking performances traditionally are the ones remembered and celebrated. Not this time, not for Brodeur. Tying this record, in his hometown of Montreal, with his family, friends and his idol, Roy, in attendance; that was hard to top.

He even received a standing ovation after the game from the Canadiens fans.

"The fans over there, I never had issues with them and people always really liked me, but I still was not a Hab," Brodeur said. "But they were unbelievable after the game with the standing ovation I got from them. Everybody knew what was going on at that time."

Brodeur spent time with Roy before and after the game. He cherished every minute of the audiences.

"That was just as classy as it gets," Brodeur said.

Roy said after the game he would one day tell his grandchildren that he was there the night Brodeur tied him.

Speaking to this week about his memories of the night, Roy said he went to the game because he remembered how much it meant to him to have Terry Sawchuk's son, Jerry, in the building the night he broke Sawchuk's record for wins.

"I was going to follow Marty until he tied the record," Roy said.

Winning in Montreal gave Brodeur the chance to break the record at home. That was his wish all along.

"It's great for the fans because they're the ones that supported me all the years and saw a lot of the wins," he said. "New Jersey is a big state with all the people, but we're a small hockey market, to a certain extent, and people really care about each other. The fans take a lot of pride in their team, and they're fun to be a part of it with them. It was nice to get it at home. They seemed to have a lot of fun that night."

Forward Zach Parise, who was New Jersey's captain at the time, remembers the buzz in the building and how it energized the Devils.

"It was so much fun to play in that game and be a part of that record," said Parise, now with the Minnesota Wild. "I don't know if anyone is ever going to get there to tie him."

Brodeur said other than rewriting the record book, the best part of the entire experience, both in Montreal and at home against Chicago, was how his teammates embraced him and the history he was making.

It even put Patrik Elias' milestones on the backburner. Elias tied John MacLean's record for most points in Devils history in Montreal and broke the record against Chicago.

"I mean, these guys wanted it as much as I wanted it, and that made me feel really good about the whole thing," Brodeur said. "I know I was getting a lot of the attention, and that's the last thing I wanted to do as a player. People who know me well enough know that I just wanted to play hockey and the attention just comes with what I accomplished. For that to happen, to see all these guys really playing their hearts out for me, made me feel really good about the whole process."

Parise said the feeling was the same the next season, when Brodeur was attempting to break Sawchuk's record for the most shutouts in NHL history. He broke the record with his 104th on Dec. 21, 2009, a 35-save performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena. 

"I remember in the third period, the way guys were blocking shots late in the game," Parise said. "We were so committed to helping him get that record, because it's fun to be a part of and it brings a team together." 

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