-- On another cold, rainy day in Trenton, the State House was filled with sunshine as the Senate and General Assembly honored a New Jersey icon with "Martin Brodeur
Day," in recognition of his becoming the NHL's all-time leader in regular-season victories.
Brodeur surpassed former Montreal Canadiens
and Colorado Avalanche
goalie Patrick Roy
on March 17 with his 552nd regular-season victory, a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks
Senate President and former Governor Richard J. Codey hailed Brodeur as a West Orange resident.
"He's a class act, in every way, shape or form," Codey said. "This man set an NHL record as a goalie, something that will stay with him for his lifetime, and with his teammates, those who run the team and own the team."
Joking that the legislature can do some things in a bipartisan fashion, Codey's Republican counterpart joined in the praise.
"We're celebrating a New Jersey resident who has been making New Jersey proud for 15 years," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. "He knows about New Jersey pride, knows about loyalty, cares passionately about the fans. New Jersey is a far, far better place because of what Martin does and the pride he's shown in our great state and the great team and the citizens of this great state."
"We're celebrating a New Jersey resident who has been making New Jersey proud for 15 years. He knows about New Jersey pride, knows about loyalty, cares passionately about the fans. New Jersey is a far, far better place because of what Martin does and the pride he's shown in our great state and the great team and the citizens of this great state."
-- New Jersey Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr.
Codey then introduced Brodeur's boss, Devils CEO, President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello as "the most professional general manager hockey has ever known … right, Lou?"
Lamoriello was asked how his life had changed by drafting Brodeur No. 20 in the first round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. With Brodeur in goal, the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
"I think every player we've drafted, my life has changed, in one way or another," Lamoriello said. "Certainly, Marty has been one special individual and one of five of our players who shared three Cups."
Codey praised Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek for keeping the team in New Jersey. Vanderbeek became an investor in the Devils in 2000 and purchased the team outright in 2004.
"We are so honored to be invited down here for this day," Vanderbeek said. "We have over 300 fans who came here on the train with us from Newark. We have a tremendous group of passionate fans. This is New Jersey's team."
Brodeur noted that the Devils wear the state logo on their uniforms when they travel to play against all 30 NHL teams in the United States and Canada. He said that although he was born in Quebec, he has become a New Jerseyan by virtue of living most of the year in the state and by playing his entire career with the Devils.
"My four children live here, go to school here and were born here in New Jersey hospitals," Brodeur said. "I think that's as New Jersey as you can get."
"And you pay taxes here in New Jersey," Codey reminded him.
"Ah, yeah, I've been meaning to talk to you about that," Brodeur cracked.
Codey's familiarity with the Devils and his assistance in getting the Devils' home arena, Newark's Prudential Center, built was evident as he called Brodeur, Lamoriello and former Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko his "friend" at various points in the session. He recalled a July 4 golf foursome one year with Daneyko and said that as a golfer, Daneyko "resembles a hockey player, it's all slap shots."
Until the Prudential Center was built, with a practice rink, the Devils held practices at Essex County's South Mountain Arena, renamed a few years ago after Codey. The Senate President thanked the Devils for "practicing in my rink" for many years.
Brodeur said he got an inkling early in his career that New Jersey was a great place for an athlete by watching the love the fans had for Daneyko, a career Devil. He said his goal remains to bring another Stanley Cup back to the fans of New Jersey.
To that end, Brodeur was asked what he thought of reports that the Devils might be interested in re-signing coach Jacques Lemaire
, who led them to the 1995 Stanley Cup. Lemaire recently resigned as coach of the Minnesota Wild
"He's a guy that I have a lot of respect for," Brodeur said. "He's the guy that gave me my first chance to play in the NHL. Hearing his name puts a smile on my face because we do have a relationship with him."