New Jersey Devils: Thank You Marty

Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

Last night the New Jersey Devils retired Martin Brodeur‘s number 30 to the rafters.

Now as a 23-year old Devils fan, I didn’t just see another great New Jersey Devils player have his number retired. Instead, I saw my hero finally receive the utmost honor an individual player can receive, and it brought a tear to my eye.

Sure “the voice of hockey” Michael “Doc” Emrick made it a point to mention that Martin Brodeur is a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2018, but having your number retired by the team you spent 21-seasons playing for is as good it gets when it comes to the sport of hockey. Especially when you consider everything Martin Brodeur meant to the New Jersey Devils organization.

Put aside the four Vezina Trophies, the 10 NHL All-Star appearances and the chapter he single-handedly wrote by himself in the NHL records book. Put aside the 1995, 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cups – for the kid drafted 20th overall by Lou Lamoriello in 1990 out of Montreal, Quebec would go on to mean so much more than any trophy ever could to the New Jersey Devils and their fans.

After two failed attempts at launching an NHL franchise, the Devils organization was laughed out of Kansas City as the Scouts after just two seasons and again out of Colorado as the Rockies after just four seasons. In 1982 the franchise moved to East Rutherford where they became known as the New Jersey Devils.

Still, with a new name change and playing in their third different sports market in just eight years, the Devils were considered a laughing stock. The franchise reached an all-time low in 1984 when Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, than the spokesman of the NHL, called them a ‘Mickey Mouse Organization’

“They’re ruining the whole league. They better stop running a Mickey Mouse organization and put somebody on the ice.” – Wayne Gretzky

The New Jersey Devils were down in the dumps, but on March 26th, 1992 all that would change. Devils head coach Tom McVie called up Martin Brodeur from the Utica Devils to start a meaningless game at the end of the season, and of course, the 19-year old Martin Brodeur delivered his first regular season win with a 4-2 victory against the Boston Bruins.

The next season Martin Brodeur really kicked off his career as a Devil, playing 47 games while winning 27 of them, recording a 2.40 Goal-Against Average and registering 3 shutouts. That year he went on the become the first rookie in Devils history to earn the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. The only other player to do so in Devils history was Scott Gomez in 2000.

In his sophomore NHL season, Martin Brodeur and the 1995 New Jersey Devils led the organization to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

1,266 regular-season games, 205 career playoff games, an NHL record 691 career regular-season wins and an NHL record 125 career shutouts later and Martin Brodeur stands alone as the backbone of a proud NHL organization that went from nothing to a perennial power for two-straight decades.

Three Stanley Cups in nine years, a dynasty that can be mentioned in the same sentence as the Detroit Red Wings of the ’90s, Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers of ’80s, and the Chicago Blackhawks of recent times – and it’s all only possible because of Martin Brodeur and his teammates.

But perhaps even more iconic is the fact that in an organization trademarked by not idolizing it’s star players, Martin Brodeur stood alone as the face of the New Jersey Devils for over twenty-years.

And even so, Marty Brodeur will tell you straight to your face that the only reason for his success is because of all the great teammates that played in front of him, including Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer and Sergei Brylin – just to name a few.

Lou Lamoriello said during last night’s ceremony that more important than the individual milestones and franchise statistics, was the type of person Martin Brodeur was.

"“You’ve heard Ken [Danyko] and Patrik [Elias] say as far as how he was as a teammate… well he [Marty] was the same off the ice. He was what we call a pure prototype Devil” and Lou Lamoriello would go on to compare Marty to Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Danyko. “What I mean by what I would call a prototype Devil is that the name in the back of the shirt never got confused with what it meant for the logo on the front, and that whatever was done, was for the team, and that was Marty.”"

And for the duration of my childhood and for as long as I played this beautiful game of hockey idolizing the New Jersey Devils growing up, I had the great Martin Brodeur and his teammates to look up to for who they were both on and off the ice, and for that, I’m forever grateful.

Next: Devils Top Three All-Star Performances

Martin Brodeur went on thank Lou Lamoriello in his speech for making him a champion, but I wanted to take this time to thank Marty for making me and the rest of the New Jersey Devils organization champions!

Thank you Marty.

Forever number 30.