Lessons Learned from Martin Brodeur: It's Better to be Different

I recently finished watching Season One of Mr. Robot. It’s about a group of computer programmers out to even the score with the corporate world. One of the show’s leading actors, Rami Malek, recently won a 2016 Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. During his acceptance speech Malek said, “It’s not just good to be different. It’s better to be different.”

I thought to myself, “What a powerful statement.” And, naturally, I thought about how it applies to goaltending. Fast forward to just last week, when the New Jersey Devils retired Martin Brodeur’s iconic #30 to the rafters in the Prudential Center. It was the grande finale to Brodeur’s career, which lasted 21 years and is highlighted by many accomplishments:

-Three Stanley Cup rings

-Two Olympic gold medals

-Four Vezina Trophy wins

-The most regular season wins of all time

-The most regular season and playoff shutouts

But, this blog isn’t about Brodeur’s great career. Or about how awesome the ceremonial face-off was with Brodeur, current Devils goalie Cory Schneider, and Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. It was pretty awesome, wasn’t it?

Instead, I want to talk about what is means to be different. When we typically think about goalies who had a “different” style, Dominik Hasek usually comes to mind. The flopping. The gumby-like joints. The helmet.

However, Brodeur played the complete opposite of almost any other Canadian goalie during the modern NHL era. Not to mention, one of Brodeur’s best qualities was how relaxed he was before and after games. He always looked like he was having more fun than anyone else on the ice.

Much of what we will remember about Brodeur’s style - less butterfly movements, patience on his skates, and a wide range of save selections - is attributed to the Devils’ longtime goalie coach, Jacques Caron.