Friday, November 28, 2014

Blues players welcome Brodeur with open arms

One wasn't even born when goalie's NHL career began

ST. LOUIS -- Imagine being Jaden Schwartz walking into the Blues' locker room on Friday morning and the first glance he got was of a guy who's career started before he was even born.

That's what Schwartz was faced with when he met future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur for the first time.

Brodeur, who was brought in by the Blues for a tryout with hopes of eventually landing a contract with the loss of Brian Elliott (lower-body) to injury on a week to week basis, was on the ice with Blues players for the first time at the morning skate prior to the Blues playing the Edmonton Oilers.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Martin Brodeur donned the Bluenote for the first time Friday at
Scottrade Center.

"I never met him before, but it's pretty cool for a guy who's had such a great career to be able to come in here," Schwartz said of Brodeur. "I've watched him growing up a lot. Obviously seen him play a lot of hockey."

Brodeur, with his 688 wins, three Stanley Cups and 124 shutouts started his career in the 1991-92 season. Schwartz wasn't born until June 25, 1992.

"His accolades that he's collected, championships and stuff like that ... for me as a young guy, it's probably a little cooler," Schwartz said.

Brodeur, who arrived in St. Louis Thanksgiving morning and spent the American holiday away from family and friends, spent his first day with the team getting to know players and those in the organization, signing memorabilia, getting his first workout on the ice and being the consummate player.

"Just off professionalism and his love for the game, he's picking up pucks at the end of practice," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Brodeur. "That's a Hall of Famer doing that type of stuff. I think that rubs off on a really good way with a lot of players."

Indeed it does.

"It's pretty special," captain David Backes said. "It's not every day you get a Hall of Famer come to the rink and try and stop pucks. It's almost a little unnerving. You don't want to hit him in the head and make the old man mad. I think Jax is the happiest guy here knowing he's not the oldest guy anymore. It's great to have him out there. He battles his butt off. He knows where you're shooting it before you're shooting it.

"The sad thing about my knowledge of Marty is he's been in the East and I've been in the West and we barely played each other. I think the most I saw of him was Olympics in 2010. His goaltending abilities, his record speaks for itself and I think his competitive nature is second to none. A guy that can move the puck with the best of them too. I don't know how much he's got left. He obviously thinks he can still play. I'm nobody to tell him he can't."

But before he even got to the rink, it was bestowed upon fellow French Canadian Maxim Lapierre, who hails from Brodeur's town of Saint-Leonard, Quebec, to escort Brodeur to the rink. Needless to say, Lapierre was in awe.

"I'm not going to lie, when the team text me last night to drive him to the practice this morning, I was pretty nervous," Lapierre said. "I was telling my wife last night, 'I don't know what I'm going to tell him.' It was the first time I feel kind of shy a little bit. But it went well like we expect. He's a great guy and I think he looked pretty good today."

To which Brodeur joked about Lapierre, "Usually you think French guys, we all know each other, but it's not true. It was really nice of him, but I've got to get my own car here now."

Brodeur becomes the oldest player at 42 in the locker room, much to Barret Jackman's delight.

"Marty's got me by a couple years," the 34-year-old Jackman joked, before referring to Steve Ott. "Otter's first comment was, 'You're not the oldest guy anymore.' His experience speaks volumes for how good of a teammate and how good of a player he is. It's going to be fun to pick his brain on some things. It's fun to have him around.

"He's one of the best goaltenders to ever play the game. Hopefully things work out for him and he's here for a while. It's fun for the guys in the dressing room right now."

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo agreed.

"He certainly has a good track record," Pietrangelo said. "To have 688 wins, that's pretty impressive. He's one of the best all-time. To see him sitting in our room is pretty special.

"He's obviously a guy I grew up watching. It's pretty cool to see him sitting in your dressing room. A little different being in a Blues uniform, but we're obviously excited to have him. We know the experience that he brings. It's going to be great for Jake (Allen) and Binner (Jordan Binnington) both to have a guy like that here. ... We know what he can do on the ice. Jake's been playing great, and we've got a lot of confidence in Jake. Having a guy like that sitting beside Binner too, it'll be good for him to pick his brain a little bit."

Besides throwing on Blues colors for the first time, or another NHL colors and logo for the first time in his career being strange, signing that John Hancock on memorabilia was just as weird.

"Yeah. Especially the first puck I signed that was St. Louis Blues, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to sign it or not," Brodeur joked. "I've got to get used to it quickly.

"I made sure I'm all decked out right away ... just to make sure how I feel right away (in Blues gear). It's weird. There's no doubt about that."

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