Martin Brodeur Made Me a Hockey Fan and a Devils Fan


Martin Brodeur helped me fall in love with hockey (with a little help from Doug Gilmour). I’m sure it’s probably the same for a lot of New Jersey Devils fans around my age.

I’m not going to lie though. I started out a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. It wasn’t really my fault. I didn’t have cable as a kid, only got one channel – CBS – and they weren’t exactly known for their hockey coverage in the 1990’s.

A couple of years ago I did a piece for Penalty Box Radio, and I’m going to share some of it here for you.

When I was a kid, my knowledge of video games was limited to ColecoVision and my Atari 2600. That all changed when I moved and my new best friend had a Super Nintendo. He of course had Super Mario Brothers, but my favorite game to play was NHL ’94. Pong was the only “sports game” that I had on Atari, so just being able to play one of the big four sports was a HUGE deal for 10-year old me.

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For whatever reason, the Toronto Maple Leafs appealed to me. Was I unknowingly a student of the game and wanted to play with one of the original six? Was it the aesthetics of Toronto’s sweater? Was it because they were a darn good team (they had lost to the Canucks in the Western Conference Finals in ’93)? Honestly, the reason I kept going back to the Maple Leafs was number 93. Number 93 of course was Doug Gilmour, left-handed first line center and recently named Captain of the Maple Leafs. Gilmour was a scoring machine in NHL ’94. I’m not sure if it was the same for everyone else, but Gilmour for me was the equivalent of Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. Gilmour single-handedly turned me into a hockey fan.

Although the NHL was on strike in ’94 [a lockout, I know], at my best friend’s house it was constantly the Maple Leafs vs. the Kings. 93 vs. 99. “Killer” vs. “The Great One.” Doug Gilmour vs. Wayne Gretzky. I couldn’t tell you who won more games in the battle, but if you had asked me, someone who had never even seen an NHL game on TV at the time, I would have told you that Gilmour was my favorite player. The most ridiculous aspect to all of this was that 1) I didn’t even know what Gilmour looked like (remember the days before you could Google everything?), and 2) I got one channel, CBS, so as a sports fan I lived for March and the Madness that ensued.

Fast forward four years to a different house, a different school and CABLE!!! I was flipping through channels, one of my favorites being the original Fox Sports NY, and happened across a New Jersey Devils game. Who took the ice for the Devils that night? Who else? Number 93, Doug Gilmour himself. 14-year old me instantly became a Devils fan.

Jump ahead to  June 10th 2000 to the second overtime of game six, and Jason Arnott’s Stanley Cup winning goal. Scott Stevens may have been named MVP of that series, but you could make an excellent case that number 30, Martin Brodeur, should have won it. After giving up three goals in a game one win, Marty shut the Stars down, allowing only six over the next five games.

This game, this series, this cup winning team with Marty between the pipes is what made me love hockey. I think I remember reading that Marty has said that the ’95 Cup was his favorite, and I can totally understand that. I understand it because for me, the ’00 Cup was my first as a Devils fan.

As we come up on Marty’s jersey retirement ceremony in a little over two weeks I’m sure a lot of people will be reliving the ’95, ’00 and ’03 Cups, but for me ’00 win will be a memory that will always be stuck in my head. I remember where I was sitting when it happened, the only one in my house still awake, ready to yell but stopping myself so I didn’t wake everyone up.

Next: Devils Top 10 Games of All-Time

What about you? What’s your favorite Marty memory? Or your favorite Devils memory? Feel free to comment and let me know!