It’s a familiar Bell Centre sight: A Brodeur sitting along the glass, just a few feet away from the Zamboni entrance, snapping photos of Martin Brodeur in action on the ice.
On this Monday afternoon, the man behind the camera was Denis Brodeur, Jr. He was in the same corner of the rink where his late father, Denis Sr., former long-time Canadiens photographer, was a regular fixture every time Martin and the New Jersey Devils were in town.
“My brother does what my dad did so it’s kind of nice for him to be able to come in here and take some pictures,” the netminder said after taking part in a light practice with a handful of teammates. “We’re never here a day before a game so I took advantage. I gave him a call and he came down.”
Tuesday’s tilt against the Canadiens will mark Martin’s second visit to Montreal without his father, who passed away in September after a battle with brain cancer. It might also be the final time the future Hall of Famer will return to his hometown as an NHL player.
“At some point during the game tomorrow, either during the national anthems or a TV timeout, I’ll stop to look around. I’ve been doing it in a few arenas because I don’t know if it’ll be the last time I play there,” Brodeur, 41, said. “Last year, our last game of the season was at Madison Square Garden; I’ve played there a lot and loved it.
“At one point I stopped, looked around me and took it all in. I do it in buildings I like to play in.”
Playing the Canadiens has been good to Brodeur over the course of his 20-year career. Heading into Tuesday’s matchup, he’s posted a 44-19-5-1 record, including nine shutouts, with a 1.85 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.
While Devils head coach wasn’t available to confirm who would get the start, expectation on Monday was that Brodeur would get his 70th career start against the Canadiens.
“Montreal, especially the Montreal Canadiens, have always been a big part of my family,” he said. “I’ve never played for them and probably never will play for them but it’s a big part of me growing up and career of my dad so it’s definitely appreciated what people think about it.”
In the final year of his contract, Brodeur has been splitting the crease this season with Cory Schneider. It’s a change of routine for the veteran stopper who, for the bulk of his career, has appeared in – and mostly started – no fewer than 70 games in a season when healthy.
There are still plenty of games left in the season and, for now, a decision on the future has yet to be made.
“If I keep playing, I want to be in a comfortable situation, whether here (with the Devils) or elsewhere,” he said. “Time will tell; I don’t know if I’ll play next year. Right now I’m enjoying myself. We’re in battle for the playoffs and I want to be a part of it.”
“I feel healthier, physically and mentally (compared to the last few years),” Brodeur added. “For me, the gauge is how I feel physically to see where I’m going to go and what I’m going to do in the future.”