Okay, so I know I am a day late on this, but it turns out it requires to full two days of binge drinking as many beers as possible to fully honor the career of the best goaltender of all time. That, the corresponding hangover, and ten hours of travel don't exactly lend themselves to the clear head and full heart required to memorialize one of the most special nights in New Jersey Devils history. So this may not be my most timely post, but that doesn't make it any less important.
The funny thing about legendary careers is that we don't fully appreciate them while they are taking place. Sure, there may be a special night or two along the way. For instance, the night that Martin Brodeur became the winningest goaltender of all time. However, in the moment they are nothing but a statistic. An impressive statistic, but a statistic nonetheless. It's not until you look back at a player -after he has hung up his skates for the final time- that you realize just how amazing the culmination of those statistics can be. The wins, the points, the shutouts, the trophies, the championships. Brodeur has created a resume that is unlikely to ever be matched, and that's if you are just looking at the numbers. His numbers don't accurately portray all that he brought to the game, yet they are far and away better than any other person to ever play the game. That's how special the career of Martin Brodeur was. Not only did he master one of the most important positions in professional sports, but he revolutionized it in the process.
Look at the people in attendance on Tuesday. Lou Lamoriello, Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, the late Pat Burns' wife Line, Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer, Patrik Elias, Doc Emrick. That guest list read like a 'Who's Who' of the most important figures in franchise history. The career of the man affectionately known as 'Marty' coincides with that of every person that has ever accomplished anything of note with the New Jersey Devils. I wouldn't exactly call that a coincidence. His banner raising was one of the most extravagant events the Devils have ever put together. Now, that's partially because the new ownership has made it a point to go above and beyond, but it's also because -other than Lou Lamoriello- Marty Brodeur is the most important person in New Jersey Devils history. Lou Lamoriello built the organization from the bottom up, but the man whose number now rests externally in the Prudential Center rafters was the foundation of that construction. It was his dedication to a state that he now calls home that transformed the Devils from a "Mickey Mouse organization" (people don't forget Wayne) to a perennial contender. Not only did he embrace what it meant to be a "Devil" but he was the personification of it.
I know last night was Marty's night, but I'll be damned it it didn't feel like ours too. It was a night where Devils fans -on behalf of the state of New Jersey- got to return the favor for two decades of excellence, and more importantly, loyalty. So as the resounding chants grew louder and nearly everyone's eyes fell heavier, we finally got a chance to emphatically show Marty that not only will he forever be better, but he'll forever be ours.