Brodeur's life intersected with Carter's
By Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency
MONTREAL -- It was an interesting moment Sunday evening when, during a pre-game ceremony to honour late Expos great Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher's picture was projected onto the Bell Centre ice.
Moving out of his net, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur was bathed in the light of the image.
It was interesting because, again, the lives of the two intersected and, as we would find out after Brodeur helped the Devils to a 3-1 victory over the Habs, there was even an undercurrent of sad irony to the moment.
First, the Canadiens deserve credit for a classy remembrance of Carter, a player who helped the Expos rival the Habs for the affections, passion and loyalty of Montrealers in the late 1970s. That's saying something, given the Canadiens were winning four Stanley Cups at the time.
The Canadiens wore Carter's No. 8 for the warmup (the sweaters will be used as fundraisers for the Gary Carter Foundation; details are to be made available at canadiens.nhl.com) and showed the highlights of Carter's career. As one of the images of Carter, who lost his battle with brain cancer at age 57 Thursday, was projected on the ice, it looked like he was reaching out with his glove to touch Brodeur.
Brodeur was probably one of the few players on the ice who actually knew who Carter was, never mind having got to know him personally. Brodeur's dad, Denis, was the official photographer for the Expos (and the Habs) and forged a personal relationship with Carter over the years.
After Carter's passing and with Brodeur visiting with the Devils, a picture made the rounds on the Internet of a young Martin with his brother, posed on either side of a kneeling Carter.
"For us, he was a part of our family. He was really a gentleman, a nice guy," Brodeur told reporters after the game. "My brother showed me a picture (Saturday) that he signed to me and my brother with a message wishing us good luck. I just remember him coming over and looking at pictures with my dad and talking to my dad. I didn't know much English when I was young, so it was a little hard to understand what was going on. But we knew who he was, so it was fun to be a part of that."
Denis Brodeur wasn't at Sunday's game, even though it might have been his son's last here. Brodeur hasn't made his intentions for next season clear (though it would be a surprise if he called it a career). The uncertainty of impending CBA talks raise the possibility that some players of Brodeur's vintage might be robbed of another season.
Denis wasn't at the Bell Centre because he had brain surgery Friday, which Martin revealed after the game.
Brodeur, who will be looking to improve his 7-0-1 record since the all-star break against the Leafs Tuesday night, kept the situation pretty much to himself and told only a few teammates about his dad's condition, which was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago.
"He should be home tomorrow if everything goes well," Brodeur told reporters in Toronto Monday. "He started walking yesterday and he walked more today. It's amazing the improvement. They said he'll recover as well as he was before. Even better maybe."
If that happened to be the last performance by Brodeur at the Bell Centre, Canadiens fans saw much of what they have seen over the years. Brodeur improved his record to 43-18-5 against the Habs.
It turns out win 43 was all the more impressive given the circumstances, his father's condition and the intersection of the Brodeurs' lives with Carter's life and death.