Martin Pierre Brodeur (born May 6, 1972) is a Canadian ice hockey goaltender from Montreal, Quebec, who has played his entire National Hockey League (NHL) career with the New Jersey Devils. In his 19-year tenure with the Devils, he has led the team to three Stanley Cup championships and has taken them to the playoffs every year but one. Brodeur has won two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada in the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games, as well as several other medals with the team in other international competitions.
Brodeur is the NHL’s all-time leader in regular season wins, shutouts, and games played, and holds numerous other league and franchise records. Brodeur won at least 35 games in every season between 1996–97 and 2007–08, and is the only goalie in NHL history with eight 40-win seasons. He is a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, a four-time Jennings Trophy winner, a ten-time NHL All-Star, a Calder Memorial Trophy winner, and one of only two NHL goaltenders to have scored goals in both the regular season and the playoffs.
Brodeur uses a hybrid style of goaltending by standing up more than butterfly style goalies. He is known for his puck handling, his positional play, and his reflexes, especially with his glove hand. Brodeur’s prowess in puck handling directly led the NHL to change its rules regarding when goalies were allowed the handle the puck outside of the goal crease.
Brodeur’s success followed his father Denis, who was considered an outstanding goaltender. He played in the 1956 Olympics for Team Canada and won a bronze medal. After his playing career was over, Denis was a longtime photographer for the Montreal Canadiens. For more than 20 years, he attended all Montreal games and practices, and when Martin was old enough he came along. Martin idolized their goaltender Patrick Roy.
However, Martin did not start out as a goalie himself, but rather, as a forward. His goaltending career began when his coach asked him if he wanted to play as a backup at the position in a youth tournament. Martin explained:
|“||The next season my coach came up to me and said, ‘Do you want to be a goalie or forward this year?’ It was the biggest decision of my life, and I was seven years old. I don’t know why I decided, but I thought it would be fun to play goal.||”|
Brodeur’s play in goal soon got him noticed by fans and scouts. In 1990, he made it to the Quebec Major Junior League. While playing with the Saint-Hyacinthe Laser, Brodeur made the QMJHL All-Rookie team and the QMJHL 2nd All-Star Team in 1992.
In the 1991–92 NHL season, he was called up to the Devils on an emergency basis for four games when Devils’ goaltenders Chris Terreri and Craig Billington became injured. Brodeur won his NHL debut against the Boston Bruins, 4–2, and played in one playoff game that season. He spent most of the season and the entire following season with the Utica Devils of the AHL. However, in the 1993–94 season, Brodeur gained recognition when he won the Calder Trophy, an annual award for the best rookie in the NHL, after leading the Devils to the second best record in the league and the Eastern Conference Finals in the playoffs, where they lost to the New York Rangers in seven games. He finished 2nd in goals against average and 4th in save percentage during the regular season, helping him eventually land the starting job over Terreri.
The next season, which was shortened to forty-eight games due to a four month lockout that was focused on salary cap issues, the Devils finished tied for 9th overall, 5th in their conference, and were not considered a Stanley Cup contender. However, with the leadership of Brodeur, they defeated the Boston Bruins in the 1st round after shutting them out in three of their four wins. Brodeur had another stellar performance in the second round against Pittsburgh, where he gave up only eight goals and helped the Devils soundly defeat the Penguins in five games. In the third round the Devils defeated Philadelphia in six games, giving them their first Stanley Cup finals appearance in franchise history, opposite the heavily favoured Detroit Red Wings. But the strong play of Brodeur and the Devils’ infamous “trap” method would make this series lopsided in favour of New Jersey, who would go on to sweep the Red Wings while holding them to only seven goals in four games. Brodeur now had a Stanley Cup in only his second full season in the NHL. After the victory, he was quoted as saying the following:
|“||In the last game against Detroit, the time from ten minutes left to one minute left was probably the longest nine minutes of my life. But from one to zero was probably the greatest time I’ve ever had. I didn’t want the clock to run out. It was such a great feeling: people crying in the stands, people jumping up and down, people cheering. Guys couldn’t even sit up on the bench. It was probably the best minute of my life.||”|
After a year of success, the Devils were in the middle of the pack for most of the 1995–96 season and barely missed the playoffs. Brodeur played in 74 (of a possible 82) games, setting a single-season record for most minutes played by a goalie, while having the 2nd most shutouts in the league. He was named the starter in the All-Star game for the Eastern Conference, and stopped all 12 shots he faced. He finished fourth in voting for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the league’s top goaltender. Brodeur also played on Team Canada during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where Canada lost to the United States in the gold medal match.
In the 1996–97 season, the Devils finished 3rd in the NHL and played the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. In the first game of the series on April 17, 1997, with the Devils up by a goal late in the game, Brodeur fired the puck the length of the ice and into the Canadiens’ empty net to ensure a 5–2 victory. It was only the second time in NHL history that a goaltender had scored in the playoffs, and the fifth time overall. The Devils went on to win that series, but lost in the second round to the rival New York Rangers. Brodeur was runner-up for the Vezina, was named to his second all-star team, and had the lowest goals-against-average by a goalie in almost thirty years, earning him the Jennings Trophy. He also had 10 shutouts and a .927 save-percentage.
The following year, Brodeur had 43 wins and 10 shutouts in the regular–season. The Devils finished first in the Eastern Conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators. Once again, Brodeur made the All-Star Team, finished as a runner up for the Vezina, and took home the Jennings Trophy.
In the 1998–99 season, the Devils finished first in the Eastern Conference for the third straight year, with Brodeur winning 39 games. He was among the contenders for the Vezina Trophy and started in the All-Star game, making his fourth appearance. However, Devils lost in the first round to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was by far the worst playoff performance in Brodeur’s 5-year career, as he allowed 20 goals in 7 games with an .856 save percentage.
During the 1999–2000 season, on February 15, 2000, Brodeur was credited with his second career goal, as Brodeur was the last Devils player on the ice to touch the puck before Simon Gagne of the Philadelphia Flyers accidentally put the puck into his own empty net during a delayed penalty call against the Devils. Brodeur had previously tapped the puck behind his net, stopping an attempted wrap-around by a Philadelphia Flyer.
That season, Brodeur won 43 games for the second time in his career, and the Devils finished with the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference after losing the division to the Philadelphia Flyers by two points. Brodeur helped the Devils sweep the Florida Panthers in the first round, giving up only six goals in four games. In the next round against the Toronto Maple Leafs he recorded two shutouts, including one in the final game of the series as the Devils went on to win four games to two, setting up a showdown with rival Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Flyers took a commanding 3–1 series lead and had home ice to close out the series, but Brodeur gave up only one goal in each of the remaining three games of the series, propelling the Devils to the surprising come from behind series victory in 7 games. They went on to play the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals, who had a higher seed but fewer regular season points, giving the Devils home ice advantage in the series. After taking game one with a 7-goal rally against Dallas, the Devils were led by Brodeur the rest of the way as he gave up only six goals in the next five games, giving the team their second Stanley Cup Championship in six years.
The next year, Brodeur topped the 40-win mark for the third time in his career, despite having an average GAA and save-percentage throughout the season. He played in the All-Star Game for the 6th consecutive season, and helped the Devils earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference. In the first round Brodeur recorded two shutouts against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Devils took the series in six games. After struggling to beat 7th-seeded Toronto in seven games, the Devils had little trouble defeating the 6th-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals, where Brodeur added two more shutouts, both on the road. In their second straight Stanley Cup finals appearance, the Devils played a back-and-forth series against the top seeded Colorado Avalanche. Despite a 3–2 series lead and a game at Continental Airlines Arena to close out the series, two consecutive losses lead to a Colorado Stanley Cup victory in seven games.
In the 2001–02 season, Brodeur finished among the league leaders in wins and GAA. Brodeur continued to lead the league in victories and remained a Vezina and MVP candidate. The next season, in 2002–03, Brodeur finally achieved what had been eluding him his whole career: the Vezina Trophy. He also won the Jennings Trophy again, was a Hart Memorial Trophy finalist for the league’s Most Valuable Player, and was named a 1st Team All-Star and started in the All-Star Game. With one of the most impressive playoff performances of his career, Brodeur guided the Devils to their third Stanley Cup victory after dramatic seven-game series wins against the top-seeded Ottawa Senators and the surprising 7th-seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He posted 3 shutouts against Anaheim and had a playoff total of 7 overall, breaking Dominik Hašek‘s NHL record of 6 (Hasek had recorded his 6 shutouts for Detroit the previous year). Despite this, the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP was awarded to Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who became the first player not on the championship team to be named playoff MVP since Ron Hextall of Philadelphia in 1987. Some hockey writers speculated a New Jersey player did not win because there were multiple candidates, resulting in a split vote among the sportswriters who selected the winner.
In the 2003–04 season, Brodeur won his second consecutive Vezina Trophy and Jennings trophy. He was also a first Team All-Star, a starter in the NHL All-Star Game, and a finalist for the Hart Trophy again. The Devils lost the Atlantic Division title by 1 point to the Philadelphia Flyers, who had obtained the 3-seed and home ice advantage against the sixth seeded Devils in the first round of the playoffs. This would be too much for Brodeur and the Devils to overcome, as the Flyers went on to defeat them in five games.
After the 2004–05 NHL lockout canceled the 2004–05 season, Brodeur signed a contract extension with the Devils on January 27, 2006, that will pay him $31.2 million over six years. In the 2005–06 season he posted 43 wins, adding on to his NHL records of what was now five 40-win seasons and ten consecutive 30-win seasons. After struggling early in the season, his impressive play later on made him a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the third straight year, and helped lead the Devils to a surprising comeback in the last two months of the season that resulted in them winning the Atlantic Division in the final game of the year. In the first round of the playoffs, he beat the Rangers for the first time in his career, leading the Devils to a four-game sweep. But a 4–1 series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes eliminated the Devils in the next round.
In the 2006–07 season, Brodeur made his ninth NHL All-Star Game appearance in Dallas, Texas, won his third Vezina Trophy and rose on several NHL records lists. On December 9, 2006, he posted a 2–0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers for his 462nd career win, moving him into 2nd place on the all-time list ahead of active goalie Ed Belfour of the Florida Panthers. Just a few weeks later, on December 26, Brodeur beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3–0 to record his 85th career shutout, moving him past Glenn Hall for 3rd place on that all-time list and 1st place among all active goalies. On February 1, 2007, Brodeur beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6–5 in overtime to take the all-time lead in overtime (non-shootout) wins with 45, passing childhood idol Patrick Roy. The Devils first 38 wins of the season were all with Brodeur in net, leading him to set a NHL record for most consecutive wins for a team.
On April 3, 2007, Brodeur tied the NHL record for most wins in a single season with 47, set by Bernie Parent in 1973–74, in a 2–1 shootout victory against the Ottawa Senators. Two days later, he broke the record with his 48th win in a 3–2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, which helped the Devils clinch their seventh Atlantic Division title and the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
In the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the seventh-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning, Brodeur started out shaky and the Devils fell behind two games to one. He would come back strong, however, to finish the series, and helped the team advance in six games while passing Grant Fuhr for second place in all-time playoff victories. In the second round against the Ottawa Senators, Brodeur could not continue his stellar play and allowed 15 goals in only 5 games en route to a 4–1 series victory for the Senators.
In the 2007–08 season, Brodeur became the second goalie in NHL history to reach 500 wins with a victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 17, 2007. The only other goalie to achieve the feat is Patrick Roy. Brodeur was also named the starting goalie for the Eastern Conference in the 2007–08 NHL All Star Game in Atlanta. However, he was unable to participate because of a family obligation. New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro took over as starter of the game, while Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas took the last spot for goalies.
After losing a bitter series against the rival New York Rangers in the opening round of the 2008 NHL playoffs, Brodeur refused to shake Sean Avery‘s hand. During game three of the series, in an unusual move, Avery turned to face Brodeur during a 5-on-3 power play, and began waving his hands and stick in front of Brodeur’s face in an effort to distract him. The day after this game the NHL announced that it had revised its unsportsmanlike conduct rule, now known as The Sean Avery Rule, effectively outlawing such antics.
Brodeur started wearing a new painted mask design for the 2008–09 NHL season with a stylized “MB30” on the front, replacing the “J” that had been on his mask for his entire NHL career. During a game on November 1, 2008, Brodeur suffered a “bruised elbow” which would later be diagnosed as a torn distal biceps tendon, the first major injury in his career. Following surgery on November 6, he would miss 16 weeks of the season before playing his next game on February 26, 2009. Upon returning from the injury, Brodeur registered a 4–0 shutout against the Colorado Avalanche for his 99th career shutout. Three days later, he recorded his 100th career shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers, three short of Terry Sawchuk‘s NHL record.
The calendar year 2009 was a good one for Brodeur as he broke or tied a number of career records for goaltenders including:
- Most career wins, breaking Patrick Roy’s record of 551.
- Most playoff shutouts, tying Patrick Roy’s record of 23.
- Most minutes played, breaking Patrick Roy’s record of 60,235 minutes.
- Most games played, surpassing Patrick Roy’s record of 1029.
- Most regular-season shutouts, breaking Terry Sawchuk‘s record of 103.
On December 30, 2009, Brodeur and the Devils shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2–0. It was Martin’s 105th career shutout, giving him the all-time professional record, surpassing George Hainsworth‘s total of 104 combined in the NHL (94) and Western Canada Hockey League (10).
The Brodeur Rule
After the 2004–05 lockout and before the start of the 2005–06 season, the league instituted a new rule preventing goaltenders from playing the puck behind the goal line, except within a trapezoid-shaped zone located behind the net. The trapezoid begins at the goal line with angled lines six feet from each goal post and widens to 28 feet at the end boards. Former Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke was one of the leaders in getting the trapezoid implemented. This was viewed by many as singling out Brodeur, who was one of the best at getting behind the net to handle the puck, and has come to be known as the “Brodeur Rule”.
At the 2009 NHL General Managers’ Meeting it was discussed whether the rule should be eliminated as a solution to the increasing number of injuries on defensemen who are being hit hard by forechecking forwards. The forecheckers were no longer impeded by defensemen holding them up because of the crackdown on interference which created situations where defensemen were being hit at high speeds. Brodeur believed that revoking the trapezoid could result in more scoring and more exciting games. He explained, “If you give the liberty to the goalies to play the puck, they’ll mess up more than they’re successful.” He also expressed his concern for defensemen, “It’s a no-brainer if they want to start to eliminate these huge hits for the defensemen… Whenever my defensemen or somebody was getting a big hit, I felt guilty that I let that guy get hit like that. Now, I’ve got to sit and watch all the time… You’ve got to try to find something because so many guys are getting hurt.” At the time of his statement, Devils defensemen Paul Martin, Johnny Oduya and Bryce Salvador were all out with injuries. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire supported removing the trapezoid and commented that, “They never put a rule against Wayne Gretzky because he was so great… To me, it’s good and it’s a gamble that having the goaltender come out, and it’s – hey, you’ve got to play smart against them.”
Ultimately the suggestion was rejected and the rule stayed in place. Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke said, “We had originally approved a rule where the goaltenders couldn’t handle the puck behind the net at all. The game was turning into a tennis match. You’d dump it in and the goalie would throw it out and now with the soft chip into the corner it turns into a puck battle and a forecheck opportunity, which is what we wanted. So we will leave that rule the way it is.”
Brodeur was selected as Team Canada‘s back-up goalie to Patrick Roy for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan; but did not get to play. Canada failed to win a medal after losing the bronze-medal match to Finland, a game in which many people thought Brodeur should have played.
In the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City, Utah, Brodeur was initially named the backup behind Curtis Joseph, but following Joseph’s losing the tournament opener against Sweden, Brodeur was named the starting goaltender the rest of the way, and won gold for Canada. He had the best GAA in the tournament and went undefeated, stopping 31 of 33 shots in the gold-medal victory over Team USA.
Brodeur then led Team Canada to a World Cup of Hockey championship in 2004, allowing only 5 goals in five games. He led all goalies in GAA and save percentage while going undefeated. He had another impressive performance for the team at the world hockey championships in the following year. After this, The Sports Forecaster 2005–06 said the following:
|“||Brodeur is arguably the top goaltender in the world. Fresh off a World Cup win in 2004 and another strong performance at the 2005 IIHF World hockey championships. He’s the game’s best puck-handling goaltender, though the NHL’s new rules changes may somewhat alter that effectiveness.||”|
He was one of the three goalies on Team Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. He registered a shootout win against Switzerland and a loss to the United States. After the loss to the US, he was benched for the remainder of the 2010 Games in favor of Roberto Luongo.
Brodeur has played for Canada in:
- 1996 IIHF World Championships (silver)
- 1996 World Cup of Hockey (Lost final.)
- 1998 Winter Olympic Games (4th place)
- 2002 Winter Olympic Games (gold)
- 2004 World Cup of Hockey (champion)
- 2005 IIHF World Championships (silver)
- 2006 Winter Olympics (Lost quarterfinal.)
- 2010 Winter Olympics (gold)
Martin and Melanie Dubois (a native of Saint-Liboire, Quebec, Canada) married in 1995 and have four children: Anthony, born in 1995; twin sons, William and Jeremy, born in 1996; and Annabelle Antoinette, born in 2002. Melanie filed for divorce during the 2003 playoffs amid reports that Martin was having an affair with Genevieve Nault, the wife of Melanie’s brother. The incident added some fuel to the fire for hecklers during the playoffs. The reports proved to be true, as Martin and Genevieve got married in June 2008. Their first child together, Maxime Phillipe Brodeur, was born in November 2009.
Brodeur is regarded as a brilliant chef and an engaging raconteur in his spare time. He has hosted a street hockey tournament in his hometown of St. Leonard, Quebec, for each of the Devils’ Stanley Cup championships, where he plays his childhood position of forward. His oldest brother, Denis Jr., is a photographer like their father, and his other older brother, Claude, was a pitcher in the Montreal Expos‘ farm system. Martin also has two sisters, Line and Sylvie.
In 2005, Brodeur began co-authoring his autobiography, Brodeur: Beyond the Crease, with long-time Toronto Star columnist and ESPN contributor Damien Cox, which was released in October 2006. Some of the things Brodeur talks about in the book are player salaries and contracts, NHL marketing, Lou Lamoriello, and the Devils’ new arena in Newark, the Prudential Center. Brodeur also includes his views on the “new NHL” after the lockout, and how it affects his career. The book’s photographs were shot by Martin’s father, Denis.
Brodeur resides in West Orange, New Jersey, near the Devils former practice facility, South Mountain Arena. According to his autobiography, he enjoys spending time in his native Montreal in the off-season, as well as playing golf at his country club, also in West Orange.
Brodeur co-owns a business called “La Pizzeria Etc.” with former teammate Sheldon Souray. The idea came about after Souray was traded to play in Montreal, the city in which the business now operates.
Brodeur is a co-owner of the Spa d’Howard, also based in his native Quebec.
After holding a Working Visa, and later a Green Card for multiple years, Brodeur passed the United States Citizenship Test on December 1, 2009, granting him dual citizenship of the United States and Canada