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NHL Centennial

Martin Brodeur's memory of record victory still vivid

Passed Patrick Roy for most NHL regular-season wins by goaltender on March 17, 2009

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

The memories remain so vivid and feel so recent that former goaltender Martin Brodeur can't believe that it's been eight years since he passed Patrick Roy and became the NHL all-time leader in wins.

Brodeur made 30 saves for the New Jersey Devils in a 3-2 victory against Chicago Blackhawks at Prudential Center on March 17, 2009. It was his 552nd win, one more than Roy.

"It's almost mind-boggling how time flies," Brodeur said. "There's such great things that happened that you remember clearly, but you turn around and all that time already has passed."

Of Brodeur's many accomplishments during his 22 seasons in the NHL, he takes the most pride in winning the Stanley Cup three times with the Devils. But as far as regular-season achievements, what always mattered most to him were wins.

Brodeur, who also is the NHL leader with 125 shutouts, had a League-record eight 40-win seasons. That included a League-record 48 wins in 2006-07, a mark Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals tied last season.

He retired following a seven-game stint with the St. Louis Blues in 2014-15 with 691 wins, 140 more than Roy, who remains No. 2.

"On the personal level, it's hard for a goalie," said Brodeur, a four-time Vezina Trophy winner. "You don't get awards for save percentage or anything like that. Your work is really put into how many wins you can get, how many times you can get your team in the playoffs and all that. So I took a lot of pride in winning. I couldn't care less lots of times about getting scored on late in a game because it would affect my goals-against average or my save percentage. At the end of the day, I wanted to make sure everybody had a big smile on their face and winning usually does that."

Now an assistant general manager and goalie coach with the Blues, Brodeur entered the 2008-09 season needing 14 wins to break Roy's record. He was on pace to get there in early December until fate stepped in.

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

Brodeur tore a biceps tendon in his left arm during a game against the Atlanta Thrashers on Nov. 1, 2008, and required surgery, sidelining him for 50 games. When he came back Feb. 26 against the Colorado Avalanche, he was eight wins away from Roy's record.

Beginning with a 4-0 victory against the Avalanche, Brodeur won eight of his first nine starts following his return to pass Roy.

If not for the first major injury of his NHL career, Brodeur would not have been in position to tie Roy against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre in his hometown of Montreal on March 14. With Roy in attendance, Brodeur made 22 saves in the Devils' 3-1 victory.


[RELATED: Martin Brodeur: 100 Greatest NHL Players]


His first chance to break the record came against the Blackhawks on St. Patrick's Day.

"I wanted to get it over with because there was so much talk about it leading up to it," Brodeur said. "So next thing you know I had a lot of people from Montreal coming in and my dad came in. It was kind of one of those things that, hopefully, you get it done and enjoy it with your family. I know the fans were really excited about it. "

With 3:04 remaining in the second period Patrik Elias set up Brian Gionta for a shorthanded goal that gave the Devils a 3-0 lead. The assist was the 702nd point of Elias' NHL career, moving him ahead of John MacLean for the most in Devils history.

"The fact that Patrik also had something special the same night; it was kind of pretty cool to have those two experiences together," Brodeur said.

With Elias' milestone out of the way, Brodeur appeared to have a clear path to his own. The Blackhawks had other ideas.

Cam Barker's power-play goal with 2:32 left in the second period cut the Devils' lead to 3-1. Even after that, Brodeur had a relatively stress-free third period until Dustin Byfuglien scored with 2:03 remaining.

"They got a goal late and it was a little tight there at the end," Brodeur said. "That was probably a little more nerve-wracking than a regular regular-season game."

After getting through those final 123 seconds, it was time for Brodeur to celebrate. But before he could take his victory lap, someone handed him a pair of scissors to cut the net off the goal frame as a souvenir.

"That was so hard," Brodeur said. "That's why I really appreciate that [backup Kevin Weekes] said to me, 'Just go skate around. I'll try to finish it up.' But I was like, 'This is going to be a while here to cut the net off.'"

Brodeur said he kept the "bulk of" that net, but gave away little pieces to friends, family and teammates so they'd also have something to remember that night by.

"It was a great night," he said "It was just the way it happened too, the fact that I was able to tie [the record] up in Montreal when [Roy] was at the game and the following game do it in front of our fans in New Jersey. If I had waited one more game, I'm doing it in Carolina and it's not the same experience."

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