Martin Brodeur's success began with his father, Denis, who himself was a goaltender on Canada's 1956 Olympic team that won a bronze medal at the Cortina Olympics in Italy. But when Martin was small, he played as a forward, but at one tournament he was asked to be the team's backup goalie. "The next season," Martin explained, "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."
Martin was doubly blessed by his father, for not only had Denis been a goalie, he was also the longtime photographer of the Montreal Canadiens. For more than 20 years, Denis had been going to all Montreal games and practises, and of course when Martin was old enough he got to come along. Martin dreamed of playing for the Habs, but just as importantly he idolized Patrick Roy. "He was a young guy from Montreal, like me." Brodeur explained. "I idolized him because he came in (to the NHL) so young and he showed he could do the job. He made me see the possibility of doing it myself."
Although there were some bumps along the way, Brodeur made it to the QMJHL to play for St. Hyacinthe for three years, the same league that produced Roy, Felix Potvin, and an ever-increasing number of the world's best goalies. At the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Martin became one of the few goalies to be selected in the first round when the Devils selected him 20th overall, and after a year with Utica in the AHL he became New Jersey's starting goalie. His first game was against Boston, a night indelibly stamped in his memory. "I was 19, and I couldn't stop a puck in warm-up. The coaches came up to me and said, 'Don't worry, kid, just go out there and have fun.' So I did. The first shot I stopped was a long one by Don Sweeney. We won the game 4-2."
Brodeur brought tremendous stability to the Devils. He played a standup style, challenged shooters, and had fantastic mobility from side to side and high crease-to-goal line. With positioning, he was so strong that he did not need to flop. he relied on being in the right place at the right time. Because of his early years as a forward, he was also among the very best skaters and stickhandlers in the league, and he had one personal dream above all others when he knew he could play in the NHL, to score a goal
That chance came during the 1997 playoffs against Montreal. With his team up by two goals late in the game of April 17, 1997, he fired the puck the length of the ice and into the net to ensure a 5-2 win in the opening game of the series. Only the aforementioned Ron Hextall had ever scored a playoff goal previously.
The NHL's 1994-95 season was for a long time in jeopardy. The owners had locked the players out during heated contract negotiations, and it was not certain there would be a season at all. Eventually, a 48-game schedule was drawn up to begin in January, and the short season was under way. New Jersey finished with a very average .500 record, but in the playoffs they got stronger and stronger and Brodeur took his playing to another level. In the finals against Detroit he allowed just seven goals in four games and the Devils won the Stanley Cup in a clean sweep. Although he did not win the Conn Smythe Trophy, it was Brodeur's play that allowed the team to win.
Since then, Brodeur has won 300 career game in near-record quickness, has won 30-or-more games for eight successive seasons -- one of only seven goalies ever to do so, and has added additional Stanley Cup titles in 2000 and 2003 and a Vezina Trophy in 2003. In 2003-04, Brodeur continued his strong play between the pipes for New Jersey, winning his second straight Vezina Trophy as well as the William M. Jennings Trophy, leading the league with 11 shutouts and extending his streak of 30-or-more wins to nine straight years.
In the summer of 2006, the New Jersey Devils signed the netminder to a six-year contract. The following season Brodeur earned his pay by winning a NHL record 48 games while leading the league in shutouts with 12. The Devils were eliminated in the second round of the NHL playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators, but all was not lost for Brodeur. At the 2007 NHL awards the veteran netminder was once again named the Vezina Trophy winner. The following season he posted a 44-27-6 record with a sparkling 2.17 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage and was among the league leaders in victories, and minutes played. During the season he became only the second goaltender in NHL history to record 500 wins, following only Patrick Roy. He extended NHL records by recording his third consecutive and seventh career 40-win season, and 10th consecutive campaign with 70-or-more games. He was awarded the Vezina for the the fourth time in five seasons.
Approaching the end of the 2008-09 season, Brodeur was closing in on Patrick Roy's all-time victories record. On March 17, 2009 he posted win number 552, setting the new record.
The 2009-10 season would be a record shattering year for Brodeur. In December he broke another of Patrick Roy's records when he played in game number 1,030 and just days later he broke Terry Sawchuk's long-held shut-out record. With a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Brodeur earned shut-out number 105, breaking the record many thought would stand forever.
In addition to the records, Brodeur led the NHL in wins in 2009-10 with 45 and had the league's third best goals against average.
On the international stage, Brodeur is a two-time member of Canada's World Cup team (1996 and 2004), a two-time member of its World Championship team (1996 and 2005) and a four-time member of its Olympic team (1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010), twice winning the gold medal.