Monday, February 8, 2016

The Franchise

Greatness is exemplified through ones achievements. In sports, this is shown through ones personal records, statistics and championships. Martin Brodeur epitomizes greatness for the New Jersey Devils and for the National Hockey League.

Brodeur made his debut with the Devils as a 19 year old during the 1991-92 season. He broke in for good during the 1993-94 season. He was a mainstay with the Devils for a total of 20 seasons. During that time, Brodeur led the Devils to 9 regular season division titles, 5 conference playoff championships, and 3 Stanley Cups. He was a league leader over several different seasons for both shutouts and wins, including a still-standing league record of 48 regular season wins. He is the career leader in wins (691), shutouts (125), minutes played, shots faced, and saves. His career marks in wins and shutouts may never be equaled. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy, 5 Jennings Trophies and 4 Vezina Trophies. He was an NHL All-Star 9 times. Brodeur also made 3 appearances for Team Canada in the Olympics (2 Gold Medals) and 2 in the World Cup (1 Gold Medal).

Brodeur had a unique style in net, playing a hybrid between butterfly and stand-up. He also established himself as the team's 3rd on-ice defenseman, playing the puck and poking it away, and even at times, setting up the offensive play with long outlet passes. Brodeur holds offensive records for goaltenders as well, including a goal scored in a playoff game. The NHL, coming out of the 2004-05 lockout, established a new rule meant to limit goalies on playing the puck behind the net - "The Brodeur Rule".

Brodeur has established himself as a future NHL Hall of Famer and a New Jersey Devils legend. Tomorrow night, he will have his number 30 retired by the Devils. But the Devils are bestowing on Brodeur a new, higher honor - a statue at Prudential Center.

The Franchise is a moniker in sports given to the player who first legitimized an organization as a championship team, without whom, the long-term success would not have happened. Some teams wait around for a decade or more before finding such player. Some teams never get this arc for various reasons. The impact is almost instantaneous (though the championship may not be). It's a young player who comes up through the minor league system and when they reach the major leagues, there's usually a buzz, if not, soon after.

For the New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur is "The Franchise".

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