June 16th isn’t a particularly important day in the lives of many NHL fans.
But for Devils fans, it should ring a bell and hold a special place in our hearts. Because, 20 years ago today, the team drafted their biggest star ever – Martin Brodeur.
On June 16, 1990, the Devils pulled off one of the greatest draft day trades of all time. The teams exchanged five draft picks, including first-round selections, which moved the Devils from the 11th slot down to the 20th. The Flames went on to use the 11th pick to draft Trevor Kidd. The Devils, eyeing Brodeur throughout the draft, got their goalie at #20.
After drafting the future Hall of Famer, the Devils began to build the core of their three Stanley Cup championships. The previous October the team acquired a first-round draft selection, which brought in Scott Niedermayer. Scott Stevens came to the team from St. Louis as compensation, giving the team two of the best defenders to ever suit up for the franchise.
Brodeur took over the number one role during the 1994 season, leading the Devils to the conference finals. The next year, the team won the Stanley Cup. And the rest has been history.
Since Brodeur became the Devils number one goalie, the team has only missed the playoffs once. They’ve won three Stanley Cup titles, four Eastern Conference championships, and nine Atlantic Division titles. During this time, Brodeur has also achieved several individual milestones. He tops the goaltending record book in wins (602), games played (1, 076), shutouts (110) and minutes played (63,521). He enters the 2010-2011 season 1,013 saves shy of Patrick Roy’s all-time saves record (25,803).
When he was drafted, Brodeur could never imagine the impact he’d have on his position.
“You don’t realize it when you get drafted what path you’re going to take,” Brodeur said in an NHL.com interview. “This is the first step into doing something. I think you have to get drafted, to a certain extent. That’s the easiest way to get to the NHL. Definitely, when you do get drafted in the first round, usually teams will do everything they can to give you a chance to make it or be part of the organization, so I was really excited about that.”
Growing up in the 1990s, I began to embrace the Devils. One of the biggest reasons for choosing the Devils over my family’s team, the Rangers, was because of Brodeur. Whether it was the incredible saves or his steely confidence in net, he always seemed to be the team’s rock. No matter the situation, “Marty” always stood tall. Those qualities drew me in, and they continue to astound me today. Whenever he makes an incredible glove save or flares out his pad to deny a goal, I get that childhood giddiness and jump out my seat.
So Devils fans everywhere should celebrate today and remember today as a turning point in the history of the New Jersey Devils.
Photo Credit: NewJerseyDevils.com