March 26, 1992.
“Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams was No. 1 on the pop charts. It was three days before the release of “White Men Can’t Jump,” which would supplant “Basic Instinct” as the top-grossing movie in America.
Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was still locked in a fierce battle with former California Gov. Jerry Brown for the Democratic presidential nomination and the right to challenge incumbent President George H.W. Bush in the fall.
And a gallon of gas went for about $1.01.
That was the same day a 19-year-old goalie skated into the New Jersey Devils’ net for the first time. Martin Brodeur made 24 saves on 26 shots as the Devils beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 at what was still known as Brendan Byrne Arena.
Now 42, Brodeur is the NHL’s career leader in just about every major statistical category for goaltenders, including 688 wins (137 more than second-place Patrick Roy), 1,259 games (230 more than Roy), and shutouts (124, 21 more than No. 2 Terry Sawchuk).
Brodeur is also the all-time leader with 24 shutouts in the playoffs and is second with 113 playoff wins.
He also collected four Vezina trophies and a Calder Trophy and even scored a goal in a playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens in 1997.
That’s not even mentioning the three Stanley Cups (1995, 2000 and 2003). And he did all of it in a New Jersey Devils’ sweater, which were still red and green (with the spiffy green pants) back in 1992.
How long has Martin Brodeur been in the NHL? Scott Niedermayer, who spent 12 full seasons in front of Brodeur as a Devils’ defenseman, debuted the same season Brodeur did.
Niedermayer was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
That all but ends Brodeur’s tenure in New Jersey, even though he wants to play another season.
Brodeur’s 39 games last season were his fewest in a full season since he was limited to 31 in 2008-09 because of an elbow injury. Schneider played in 45 games.
It’s one of those times where we are reminded that, for all the talk among fans and the pundits about players’ legacies and whether or not they’re being tarnished, ultimately it won’t matter.
The truth of it is that not everyone can be Steve Yzerman and spent an entire two-decade career in one city, with one team. In an age of free agency and salary caps, precious few athletes ever get to live that.
Counting this year’s Hall of Fame class, of the 16 NHL players indicted in the last five years, one of them spent their entire career with the same organization—Joe Sakic, who played for both the Quebec Nordiques and the Colorado Avalanche.
Before Yzerman was inducted in 2009, you have to go back to 1997 Hall of Fame inductee Mario Lemieux to find a player enshrined in Toronto who played for just one team.
So while it will be a shock at first to see Martin Brodeur skate out to his net wearing something other than the red-and-black of the New Jersey Devils, we’ll get used to it.
And when he retires, we’ll seldom think about him as anything else but the goalie for the Devils.