Brodeur debuts new mask at practice
Brodeur had used the same mask design since the '93-94 season until trying the new MB30 logo in Wednesday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. (Photo: Denis Brodeur, Jr.)
AUDIO: Brodeur talks to Devils' radio play-by-play announcer Matt Loughlin
newjerseydevils.com – When Martin Brodeur takes to the ice at Prudential Center on Friday, there will be no masking his brand-new look.
The four-time Vezina Trophy winner unveiled a new mask design at Devils practice on Wednesday, and is expected to wear it for the Devils' 2008-09 regular season opener on Friday. Brodeur's brand-new web site, martinbrodeur30.com, is set to launch that same day, when the Devils host the Islanders to start the new campaign.
|See more of the mask on martinbrodeur30.com beginning
Friday, Oct. 10. (Denis Brodeur Jr.)
VIEW BRODEUR'S PAST MASKS
Brodeur believes it's a modest revision that some observers might not even pick up on right away.
"It's going to be hard to notice, I think," Brodeur said. "It's the same color scheme. For people facing me, there really won't be a difference. It's really more for TV or even for people looking up from top. I don't think it should be a big difference for people."
It marks just the third different mask that Brodeur has worn in a Devils uniform since being called up from the now defunct St. Hyacinthe Lasers (QMJHL) during the 1991-92 season. That year, the last in which the Devils wore red and green, Brodeur made four appearances for a 2-1-0 record, donning a simple red mask with a white stripe on the side.
When Brodeur returned to New Jersey for the 1993-94 season, he brought with him the Michel Lefebvre design that has become such an identifying part of his goaltending legacy. Emblazoned with a Devils-inspired "J" on the forehead and red flames on either side, the signature look had been with Brodeur through 536 wins and 96 shutouts, as well as Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
"We talked about it a long time to try and personalize the mask by putting my initials and number on top of it," Brodeur said. It's still the same look, just a little different on top. We wanted to make a change."
The idea for the new design started this past summer, when Brodeur needed a logo to be featured on the towels at his annual charity golf outing. His search led him right back home.
A short drive from Aréna Martin-Brodeur in the goaltender's hometown of St. Leonard are the offices of the Transcontinental Newspaper Group, which serves the Montreal suburb where Brodeur grew up.
Patrick Chartrand, a graphic designer for Transcontinental, had never created a sports logo aside from a Philadelphia Eagles-inspired crest that he'd made up for his men's league hockey team. But what Chartrand had was 15 years of design experience that included working in 1994 alongside Denis Brodeur and Denis Jr., Martin's father and brother, at a newspaper known as Progres de St. Leonard.
|Chartrand with his MB30 design. (Denis Brodeur Jr.)|
When Guy Martin, an associate of Brodeur's, mentioned to men's league teammate Michel Lemire that he was looking for a new logo for use in Brodeur's annual golf outing, Lemire said he knew just the right person for the job. He turned to his cousin: Patrick Chartrand.
"Michel said he could offer them something that would be really amazing," Chartrand said. "Once Guy said OK, Michel came to me and asked me to design it."
Chartrand started with a few sketches and worked out the final tweaks using Photoshop, a graphics software program. After about a half-dozen variations, the MB30 logo was finalized.
The rest has worked out spectacularly for Chartrand, also a native of St. Leonard. The logo was added to the towel given away at Brodeur's summer golf outing, and not long afterward, there were discussions of using it in conjunction with the launch of Brodeur's new site.
"Martin was really happy with the final product, and after that, one thing led to another," Chartrand said. "They wanted to use the logo, which I thought was a pretty minor thing at the time. It turned out to be much bigger."
Chartrand didn't have to look far for a starting point.
"When they started talking about the logo, I checked out his mask because I wanted to be inspired by what Martin already had and what he liked. But I began with the logo on his current mask. Martin, having spent 15 years with that organization, is really a Devil all-around. A lot of the players move around the league, but he really is a New Jersey Devil in his heart."
News of the mask revision had been largely kept quiet as the Devils entered their first training camp at Prudential Center. Brodeur practiced and made three preseason starts with his regular mask.
"At the beginning, I didn't say anything," Chartrand said. "I told a few people that I know, but I don't think they knew how big this was. I've kept it low profile without getting into it much. I work with someone who's a big Martin Brodeur fan, and he knows that this could be a big year for Martin. He's just happy for me that I helped Martin on the logo, and now that logo's going on his helmet."
Guy Martin, who saw the earliest MB30 design at Brodeur's June wedding, recently met up with Chartrand in Montreal to show him early photos of the newly painted mold. That's when reality set in.
"I was really excited," Chartrand said. "We were out at a restaurant and afterward I was driving home thinking 'Wow, this is really cool.' A few months ago it was just a logo on a towel. One thing leads to another and now it's on his helmet."
Unlike Chartrand, Sylvie Poitras already had a background creating the protective pieces of art that NHL goaltenders wear into battle each and every game.
|Poitras with the newly-painted mask.
(Denis Brodeur, Jr.)
When it came time to find an artist to make Brodeur's new design a reality, Reebok turned to Poitras.
"We have three or four artists that we usually send our pro guys to for paint work," said J.C. Bergeron, director of Reebok's goaltending category. "It's a very short list because we want to make sure we have a good, quality product. Sylvie was new this year, and the guys were very pleased with the work that she did. We decided to give her the job for Marty's mask, and I think he will be very happy with the result."
The process required more precision than others that Poitras had worked on, as the graphic shapes on Brodeur's mask didn't allow for a free-form approach. Though simple in concept, the job took 20 hours to complete.
Poitras had only Chartrand's Photoshop file to work with, featuring one, straight-on view. As it turned out, it left some room for error.
"When I made the design the first time, it was too big and had to be redone," Poitras said. (In the airbrush artist's line of work, the customer is always right.)
Once the painting was finished, the mask was off to Reebok, where Lefebvre, a longtime goaltending equipment guru, added a clear glaze to protect the undercoat, and installed the cage and the foam cushioning on the inside of the mask. Every addition was the same that Brodeur has used for the better part of a decade.
"Marty's very simple when it comes to his equipment," Bergeron said. "He doesn't change much, and he's basically using the same product he was 10 years ago. He's not picky, and doesn't spend much time during the summer trying new stuff. He's very much into his own product."
Brodeur goes through more than one set of pads, gloves and blocker in a season, but the construction never changes. Nor, as it turns out, do the specs on his mask. Bergeron recalled learning in August that Brodeur was considering a new design.
"Anytime Marty wants something new it's a surprise," Bergeron said.
Brodeur is set to take the new mask on a journey through what is expected to be a record-setting season. He needs 14 wins to surpass Patrick Roy (551) for the NHL's all-time wins record, and eight shutouts to overtake Terry Sawchuk's league record of 103.
The new mask will also put the stamp on a new record for Brodeur, who is expected to make his 14th consecutive opening-night start for the Devils and pass Tony Esposito for the most with the same club.
Goaltenders are a superstitious bunch, and some are sure to question Brodeur's decision to change things up while standing this close to history. But he's not expecting a different look to have any different effect on the ice.
"If it is changing fate, I'll be changing back," Brodeur said with a chuckle. "It is what it is. I think it's just a new start, trying to create something new. I've had some success wearing a Team Canada mask, so I don't see why I shouldn't have success with the new one."