It’s not so often a father and son appear at the same NHL training camp. There are brothers that have appeared in the same training camp like the Zajac brothers and the Gionta brothers, but a father/son appearance? It’s very rare.
Martin and Anthony Brodeur appeared in net during two separate training sessions at the Devils training camp on Thursday. Marty, the proud father; Anthony, the young goalie just happy to get an opportunity with his first NHL club…this was a happy moment that will go down in both the Devils’ history and the Brodeur family’s history.
“It’s weird,” Marty said of having his son at camp. “I always want to go sit down with him and talk to him. I got to let him be too. I’m sure I wouldn’t like to have my dad around me all the time. It’s kind of a touchy situation, I’ll admit. He likes it. I think we have a greater relationship. It’s really nice for him to live [through] this experience this week.”
The Devils newest backup goaltender, Cory Schneider, played in net during the second session along with Anthony. They made small talk out on the ice during their goalie drills.
Schneider said of Anthony, “I think he’s got a pretty good well [of advice] there with his dad. He’s probably going to go to him [for advice] more than me. He’s great too, very approachable and talkative. He’s not afraid to be friendly. He’s just like his father…pretty laid back. That must be a great experience for them to share this camp together. It doesn’t happen so often, so I’m sure they’re enjoying it.
“He’s only 18 years old,” he said. “I remember my first [NHL] game wasn’t until I was 21. I’m sure I looked out of place myself back then. He seems to be really easygoing and not nervous at all and that’s great.”
How was the first time in Devils training camp for the second generation of Brodeur?
“It was good to get on the ice with the guys that actually play for the team,” Anthony said of his first day with the squad. “It was a little bit different but it took a little bit of getting used to, but it was pretty good. It was pretty fun.”
Did his father provide any pointers before camp began?
“He just told me to play,” Anthony said. “I’m just here to gain experience. I’m not trying to make a team. I know it’s not going to happen.”
Marty isn’t the only legend in the Devils locker room this season. Jaromir Jagr did a couple of rushes in Anthony’s group before he left the ice citing ‘soreness.’ But before he left the ice, Jagr got a shot in on Anthony.
“The first time I saw him coming down I thought ‘Oh my God, he’s actually shooting on me!” Anthony recounted. “It’s pretty cool. He was playing before I was even born. It’s pretty amazing that he’s still playing and playing at such a high level. He’s such a good player. It was definitely pretty cool having him come down the ice and shoot on me.”
“No, it didn’t hurt.”
For Anthony, being in a Devils’ locker room is nothing new to him. This isn’t his first time there or around NHL players, nor will it be his last.
“I know some of the guys,” Anthony said of Patrik Elias and the veterans on the team. “I’ve been in the locker room before. It’s just now that they’re shooting on me. It’s a little weird. They think I play like my dad so they think it’s funny.”
What does he think of that?
“To an extent,” he said. “I’m a little bit of my own goalie, but I still obviously have the genetics that he has so I have some of the same reactions he does, make some of the saves he does. To an extent, yeah, I think I play like him.”
“I’m coming from juniors and now there’s NHL guys shooting on me, so obviously it takes a little adjustment. But it wasn’t that big of an adjustment. It took a little bit of time but at the end I felt pretty good.”
Since Anthony is not trying to make the team because he will be heading to Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL after camp is over, he is using this opportunity to learn from other NHL players firsthand.
“I think the experience of being around the organization and some good high quality players playing against them and also just being around watching how they act on and off the ice,” he said of what he’s learning. “I think it’s going to be pretty important for when it’s my turn. Hopefully I can get the chance to make the team in the near future.”
“It’s different,” he said growing up in a household with the most winningest goaltender of all-time. “I get to go to NHL games all the time. I didn’t really get to go to practices a lot, but when I did I always looked in. You learn a lot from that so I think it helps a lot.”
“I was probably 10 when I started playing goalie. I played forward for three years before that. I wasn’t super young when I started playing, but I’ve been playing for a while.
“Being around [my dad], we played so much when I was younger. I was playing here in New Jersey and then I left home at an early age to go play at boarding school to play prep school hockey over there for Shattuck’s [Saint Mary].
“That was a great experience. I don’t regret that at all. I had a fun time. I had some great coaches over there. I met some great people. I improved my game a lot over there.
“It’s basically eat, sleep, school…hockey,” he said of his life at Shattuck’s. “It’s a great time over there. You practice every day. You get to work on your game a lot. You have 2-3 games a weekend, so it’s a lot of hockey. 50-60 games a year. I had a lot of fun. It’s probably the main reason of improvement in my game from when I left New Jersey to where I am now.”
How were his grades?
“Good,” he said. “School was hard, but it wasn’t extremely hard. I had a good time with it. I got some buddies in the classes and stuff. It’s a lot easier for you. It’s easier to do school.”
Were there any pointers from his dad that stuck out to him as he was growing up?
“Not really what he’s actually told me, but [by] watching him. You can tell a lot by the way he plays. It’s just awesome watching him out on the ice. He’s so different from any other goalie. You learn a lot from watching him every day. You look how he reacts on the ice and how he’s so calm and collected. Pretty much, I think that’s a big part to his success. I think that’s something I’m trying to put into my game.”
As for the youngest Brodeur in the family, how’s he doing as a goalie?
He laughs. “I don’t think he’s started yet. We ask him every once in a while whether he wants to be a goalie or a forward. He changes it pretty much every day. We don’t know where he’s going to go. He’s got time. Hopefully he learns to love the game like we did.”
When Marty was asked if he would be driving Anthony home after camp he replied, “No, but I told him to keep his meal money. I’m going to cook food for him so he’s got some money so I don’t have to pay too much when he goes up to junior.”