Brodeur was a standup-goalie in the butterfly era, challenging shooters, and his side-to-side movement was among the best.
“He did some amazing things,” said Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier, who came up from the Montreal goalie pipeline that produced Brodeur and so many others. “Twenty-one years in one organization, winning Cups. To me he was probably the best at his position.
Brodeur’s puck-handling ability prevented teams from playing dump-and-chase hockey against the New Jersey Devils, where he played for 21 seasons. He sometimes acted like a third defenceman, chasing down and clearing pucks.
Because so many goalies emulated Brodeur’s stickhandling, the NHL changed its rules, creating a penalty if a goalie handles the puck in the corners of his own zone, the so-called non-trapezoidal areas.
“He was a leader in the room,” said Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson, Brodeur’s former teammate in New Jersey. “He worked so hard in practice, he made you better as a player. It was an honour to play with him.
“When you have a guy like that in net, well, the numbers stand for themselves as to what he did.”
Brodeur is best remembered for his exploits with the New Jersey Devils — taking what was once a laughingstock team and turning them into a perennial contender — and his many appearances on Team Canada.
He holds regular-season NHL goaltending records for wins, shutouts, games played and minutes played (74,438) while in post-season history, he ranks first in starts (204) and shutouts (24) and second in wins (113).
Brodeur led the NHL in wins nine times, shutouts five times and games played six times, including appearing in 70 or more games in 10 consecutive seasons from 1997-98 to 2007-08.
He won the 1994 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, and went on to earn the Vezina Trophy four times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008) and the Jennings Trophy five times (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2010).
Brodeur was also a three-time Stanley Cup champion with New Jersey (1995, 2000, 2003) and a two-time Olympic gold medallist with Team Canada (2002, 2010).
It seemed an odd choice for Brodeur to switch to the Blues as a free agent. But he grew up in hockey. His father, Denis, was a goalie and later the official photographer of the Montreal Canadiens, and Brodeur wanted to stay active for as long as possible.
“He could have come here if he wanted,” Lamoriello told NJ Advance Media. “I don’t think this is a case of him choosing (between the two organizations). He’s been there with the players. The (Blues) players and administration asked him to stay . . . he had an impact in that dressing room.
“He’s going to be travelling with the team and staying with the team. It keeps him as close to playing for the rest of this year as he can get. He’s doing this because he made that commitment there this year.
“There is no disrespect (to the Devils) whatsoever.”