By Matt Rosen
Cheers rocked The Rock as the New Jersey Devils retired the jersey of Martin Brodeur, celebrating the career of arguably the greatest goaltender of all time. For perhaps the first time in his career, the living legend looked flustered.
“Probably the first time I’ve ever been nervous on that ice,” he said.
The crowd watched in awe as highlights of this storied career played on the Jumbotron, transfixing members of the media as well as the thousands of fans.
“Oh man! It’s, I can’t, I can’t let it go! I can’t!” said Andrew Huntington of Middletown. “Ah! I almost didn’t make it here!”
“Marty’s a legend! Number 30, baby! Holds all the records!” said a fan.
“I met kids 20 years ago. It’s such a difference now. You come in, and they’re 22 years older, and they’re still around. It’s pretty amazing. I think if you go to the markets like the Montreal or New York or Toronto, they’re so big that you have zero personal touch with their fans. Here, it’s unbelievable, because I looked around. Even today, I was walking around, and I recognized people from my playing days,” Brodeur said.
“I always said since I was little I was going to be at Marty’s retirement night,” said Joe Bruno of Hackensack.
“I actually spent an entire day with him. We went out to a signing and I we went out to eat, we had dinner together, then dropped him off at the airport,” said Thomas Fragoso.
“Having the Devils be our only New Jersey team now, having the best goaltender of all time who reinvented the way this position is played coming from New Jersey? It’s an honor. It’s awesome,” said Chris Ross of Red Bank.
After decades of success, Brodeur reflected on his transition from the ice to the front office as assistant general manager of the St. Louis Blues. It’s a bittersweet closure to an historic career.
“It’s hard as a former player. You think your career is going to be forever, you know? You take it for granted when people yell your name and do this. When it ends, it ends pretty suddenly, you know. So it was definitely nice for me to hear that again, but I know I’m probably not. I don’t know what I have to do for them to chant my name again,” he said.
“No, we’re always going to cheer him as long as he’s alive and long after he’s dead,” said a fan from Brewville.
“I think you’re still going to hear the Marty chants going around every game, no matter where you are, home or away. It’ll always be there,” said John Marone of Belleville.
You can see the outpouring of love for one of the greatest athletes of all time. Marty can say what he wants, but I know this Devils fan will still be cheering.