We knew it was coming, and now it’s official: Martin Brodeur does not play hockey in the NHL anymore. The man who rewrote the goaltending record books as a New Jersey Devil will end his brief stint in the St. Louis Blues’ crease and join their front office.
How do we say goodbye to Marty? For starters, let’s fondly reflect on his best career moments. Here are 10 to ponder.
Brodeur became the second goalie in NHL history to score in a playoff game when he fired the puck the length of the ice against Montreal April 17, 1997. Another memorable Brodeur moment from the playoffs? His war with New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery in 2008, during which Avery tried to distract Brodeur by waving his stick repeatedly in his face. The NHL had to immediately create ‘The Avery Rule’ outlawing the tactic.
10. His 1993-94 rookie season
Brodeur tasted four games of the NHL in 1991-92 and didn’t play there at all the next season. In 1993-94, however, he gradually wrestled the Devils’ starting gig from Chris Terreri, going 27-11-8 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. His regular-season heroics earned him the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. He was a force for New Jersey in the playoffs, stopping 49 of 50 shots in an epic four-overtime loss to Dominik Hasek’s Buffalo Sabres and helping the Devils reach the Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.
9. First Vezina Trophy (June 12, 2003)
Hard to believe Marty had hoisted all his career Cups by the time he accepted his first Vezina as the NHL’s top goalie in June 2003. He’d finished no worse than fifth in voting the previous seven seasons, so this one felt extra sweet. It kicked off a run of four Vezinas in five years for Brodeur.
8. Setting the NHL goaltending games played record (Dec. 18, 2009)
Game 1,030 vaulted Brodeur ahead of Patrick Roy, just a few weeks after Brodeur broke Roy’s minutes record. Fittingly, Marty set the mark in a victory, which came against the Ottawa Senators. The games record is among his most untouchable, as the era of goalies starting 70-plus times a year is over. New active leader Roberto Luongo could start 60 games six straight years and still wouldn’t catch Brodeur.
7. The “still got it” 2012 playoff run – and Scorpion Save
Brodeur’s game slipped enough by 42 that he looked ready to retire this season. It’s that much more impressive, then, that he was so good just three seasons ago during New Jersey’s surprise run to the Stanley Cup final, during which he turned 40. He posted a 2.12 GAA and .917 SP over 24 starts, the most memorable of which included the Scorpion Save on the Rangers’ Marian Gaborik in the Eastern Conference final:
6. Second Stanley Cup (June 10, 2000)
Brodeur never won a Conn Smythe Trophy, but no one would’ve sneezed had he received it for the Devils’ 2000 Stanley Cup run. He posted a 1.61 GAA and .927 SP. He also allowed precisely one goal in four straight games to end the final, which culminated in a Jason Arnott overtime winner.
5. Setting the all-time shutout record (Dec. 21, 2009)
Terry Sawchuk’s 103 shutouts seemed untouchable for decades, but Brodeur halted the reign at 45 years. He’s since vaulted 22 donuts ahead of Sawchuk. Luongo is the only active goalie even halfway to Brodeur’s number, and ‘Lu’ needs a whopping 58 shutouts to set the record. For perspective on how impossible that is: Henrik Lundqvist ranks second among active stoppers with 55 career shutouts.
4. Third Stanley Cup (June 9, 2003)
Sticking with shutouts – Marty had an NHL playoff record seven during the Devils’ 2003 Cup run. That’s a shutout in 43.7 percent of his (16) victories and 29.2 percent of his (24) starts. The back-and-forth 2003 final also marked the only time Brodeur won a Game 7 to decide a championship. He allowed five goals on 22 shots to let the Ducks off the mat in Game 6, then responded with a shutout in the deciding contest. No big deal.
3. Breaking the all-time goaltending wins record (March 17, 2009)
The wins record carries more meaning than games played, as it represents not just a long legacy, but a massively successful one. Brodeur was so good for so many years with one of the NHL’s best, most consistently competitive franchises, and we will never see another goaltender duplicate that run. Win No. 552 surpassed Roy, and Brodeur didn’t stop until 691. He’s lapped the field several times.
2. Salt Lake City gold medal (Feb. 24, 2002)
Two Cups weren’t enough to earn Brodeur the Canadian starting job over Curtis Joseph, but that quickly changed. Brodeur took over after the Canucks took a 5-2 beating in their opening game, and he never looked back. His stabling net presence helped Canada end a 50-year gold drought at the Winter Games.
1. First Stanley Cup (June 24, 1995)
If Canada hadn’t tasted gold twice since 2002, the Salt Lake win would probably stand out the most among Marty’s achievements. Still, Canada expects to win every time it competes internationally – and few expected Jacques Lemaire’s upstart Devils to defeat Scotty Bowman’s powerhouse Detroit Red Wings in the 1995 final. The neutral zone trappers prevailed in a sweep. Brodeur didn’t face a ton of shots in that series, but he was steady as can be. He won 16 of 20 starts in a dominant playoffs, including his final six games, and never allowed more than two goals in one night against Detroit. You can’t ask for much more from your stopper. Few goalies were as steady and confident in the net as Brodeur.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin