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On This Date in Sports March 17, 2009: Devilish Milestones

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

It's two milestones for the price of one for the New Jersey Devils, as Martin Brodeur becomes NHL’s All-Time leader in wins for a goalie at 552, while Patrik Elias becomes the leading scorer in franchise history. Elias’ record of 702 points breaks the record of John MacLean, coming on an assist to Brian Gionta as the Devils beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 at the Prudential Center, with Brodeur moving past Patrick Roy.

The 2008/09 season was expected to be one of several milestones for Martin Brodeur, the longtime goalie for the New Jersey Devils. Born on May 6, 1972, in Montreal, Martin Brodeur followed in the footsteps of his father. Denis won a Bronze Medal for Canada at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. The elder Brodeur later became a team photographer for the Montreal Canadiens, leaving young Martin to have access to the team and learn how to play goalie from many resources, including his favorite player Patrick Roy.

Martin Brodeur continued to be a student of the art of goaltending while playing in the QMJHL for the Saint-Hyacinthe Laser. There he attended a camp held by Soviet Legend Vladislav Tretiak. Martin Brodeur would be drafted 20th overall in the 1990 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils. Two years later, he made his debut, earning his first win as the Devils beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 at the Meadowlands on Mach 26, 1992.

After spending the entire 1992/92 season in the minors, Martin Brodeur made it up to the NHL to stay in 1993/94 and became one of the top goalies in the NHL right away. Brodeur led the Devils to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first full season while winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. A year later, he helped the Devils win their first Stanley Cup. Brodeur, who began his early days on the ice as a forward, had a unique gift for handling the puck, so much so that the NHL created a trapezoid behind the net to limit a goalie’s ability to move the puck.

Martin Brodeur and the Devils added two Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003. That year also saw Brodeur win his first Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL. He would win four Vezina’s in the next five seasons, leading into the 2008/09 season. That year was expected to be filled with milestones for Martin Brodeur, who was moving up the NHL’s leaderboard in all the major goaltending categories. However, torn bicep on November 1st would sideline him for nearly four months. After returning to action, Martin Brodeur picked up the pace, tying Patrick Roy for the most career wins in NHL history on March 14th in his hometown Montreal.

While Martin Brodeur was looking to become the all-time wins leader in NHL history, Patrik Elias entered the St. Patrick’s Day meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks at the Prudential Center in Newark tied as the franchise-leading scorer with John MacLean. Jamie Langenbrunner gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead 36 seconds into the game. The Devils would add a second goal from Travis Zajac to make it 2-0 in the first period. From there, it was vintage Marty, as the Devils goalie was on top of his game. Late in the second period, the Devils made it 3-0 on a shorthanded goal by Brian Gionta, with an assist from Patrik Elias. That assist helped Elias to become the leading scorer in franchise history. The Blackhawks would get a goal on the power play by Cam Barker. In the third period, they cut the margin to one on a goal by Dustin Byfuglien. The Devils would win the game 3-2, with Marin Brodeur stopping 30 of 32 shots.

It was the first of many milestones Martin Brodeur would set in rapid sensation, as he became the NHL’s leader in games played by a goalie and shutouts. Martin Brodeur would play with the Devils for another five years before finishing his career with the St. Louis Blues in 2015. He finished his career with a record of 691-397-105 and 125 career shutouts.