Brodeur's greatness shaped by his father's advice

Monday, 03.9.2009 / 9:13 AM ET / Features
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Brodeur\'s greatness shaped by his father\'s advice
A few simple words from his dad shaped Martin Brodeur into the consummate professional, on and off the ice.
NHL.com Staff Writer

Martin Brodeur
Two pieces of fatherly advice wound up paying off in an unimaginable way for Denis Brodeur's youngest son.

"I don't want to take all the credit," Martin Brodeur's 78-year-old father told NHL.com, "but that's the truth."

Denis, a goaltender on Canada's 1956 Olympic team, said the only time he ever went on the ice with Martin was when his son was 13 and playing pee-wee hockey. Denis laced 'em up so he could give Martin a few pointers on how to play the puck behind the net.

Five years later, only hours after Martin was selected by the Devils with the 20th pick in the 1990 Entry Draft, Denis told him that if he was going to be respected as a professional, he had to be himself, which meant being polite, friendly and available to the media. Also, never, ever say anything that gets a teammate in trouble.

Play the puck. Be yourself.

"These are the two things that I stressed to him," Denis said.

Dad did a pretty good job, eh?

Not only is Brodeur known as arguably the best puck-handling goaltender in NHL history, he also is an incredibly likeable and jovial player, one who always is willing to share his time and thoughts to anyone with a pen or a microphone.

"My dad showed me the ropes of how to conduct myself around the game," Brodeur told NHL.com. "It's one thing to play the game. A lot of people do. But one of the things my dad really stressed is how I am with people and how I deal with having reporters around me and how you need to have the respect of the other people.   

"It's part of who I am."

It's part of who he always has been.

Martin Brodeur was born into the professional sports world. For years, Denis was one of Canada's leading sports photographers. He started his career in the newspaper business, and then became the team photographer for the Montreal Canadiens and Expos.

Denis always shared the stories of his day's work with his youngest son, hoping they would serve as a guide should he one day find himself in the spotlight as a professional athlete.

"I was able to have a feel of (being a pro athlete) because my dad had to work with them," Martin said. "He would come back from work and we would talk about it. He would say, this guy was not shaven, or this guy made me wait for two hours, or this guy was the nicest guy. I didn't want to be the guy that the photographer went back and talked about. Not that my dad was doing it in a bad way; he was just saying it the way it was."

Denis said most of his negative stories about professional athletes centered around baseball players, some of which Martin and his brother, Denis Jr., saw unfold. Each spring, the brothers would fly south to West Palm Beach, Fla., to spend time at the Expos' spring training facility.

"(Martin) would see me work and I used to tell him all the time, when training camp started in hockey the Montreal Canadiens gave me a list of players and each of them came one after one to my room and it was really well organized," Denis said. "When I was in Florida, I told him to notice the change. Baseball players are not the same as hockey players. They would say, 'I don't feel like taking pictures today. I'll do it tomorrow.' In baseball the guys were a little more -- how can I say the right word -- fancy. I would have to tell the PR guy I would never work with the player again. In hockey, I never had to say anything. These are the little things he heard me talking about."

Denis' work was on display throughout their house in the Montreal suburb of St-Leonard. It was as if hockey and baseball history was playing out in a story with each passing step from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen.

Players also would visit on occasion to work and dine. Martin specifically remembers Guy Lafleur coming over.

"He has seen hockey pictures in the house all his life," Denis said. "The guys used to come here for some pictures, so he has seen sports people around my place all the time."

Ironically, Denis said, "When I was taking hockey pictures, my main focus was on goaltenders. I think Martin is the kind of guy that reacts to others, and he used to see many goaltenders around the house."

Martin also put in his own photo requests. When he was in his early teens, he asked his father for three specific photos to hang in his bedroom as a collage.   

"Patrick Roy. Ron Hextall. Sean Burke," Denis said. "They were in black and white. These are the three guys that inspired him."

Why those three?

"It was the positioning and poise of Sean Burke, Patrick Roy for his butterfly style, and Ron Hextall for his ability to play with the puck and for his edge," Denis Brodeur Jr., Martin's brother, explained to NHL.com. "Oh, but it was Patrick (he idolized the most). For every Montreal kid, Patrick was their guy."

Maybe so, but the true idol in the Brodeur household is a man, now 78, whose advice from two decades ago still serves his superstar son well.

"My dad is a cool guy," Denis Brodeur Jr. said. "Maybe Marty doesn't know it, but he's a lot like my dad."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com.




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54


A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59