At 41, Martin Brodeur is still a figure to be reckoned with.
Just ask Sergei Bobrovsky, Pavel Datsyuk, James van Riemsdyk and Anze Kopitar.
The veteran New Jersey Devils goalie beat them all head-to-head in a fan vote to decide the cover athlete for EA Sports’ made-in-Canada “NHL 14” video game.
Much has happened since Brodeur’s name was revealed as the first goalie since John Vanbiesbrouck of the Florida Panthers in 1997 to grace the game cover.
Just hours after Brodeur met reporters at the Devils’ Prudential Center home to talk up his video game honour on the day of the NHL draft, New Jersey traded for Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider. The Devils wrapped up an eventful day with Brodeur taking the podium to select son Anthony, also a goalie, with the 208th pick.
The elder Brodeur, in the last year of his contract, said he understood the club’s rationale in acquiring the 27-year-old Schneider for the ninth-overall pick (which tuned out to be London Knights forward Bo Horvat). He knows he can’t play for ever.
Still Brodeur promises to fight for his starting job. The Devils have said he is still their No. 1 although it is likely they will split time.
As for Brodeur, he says he still loves what he does.
“I really appreciate every day of it,” he said. “Because I know one day it’s going to stop.”
“So far it’s been good. The body’s got to hold up. The mind’s still there,” he added.
Being a video game cover boy is the latest addition to a resume that includes three Stanley Cups, four Vezina and five Jennings Trophies, two Olympic medals and a World Cup of Hockey championship.
The 20-year-NHL veteran has also been credited with three goals.
But Brodeur says he never expected this honour.
“Not really. It’s exciting to finally get a goalie on the cover,” he said in a recent interview. “Goalies, we got snubbed in the last 10 years or so it’s definitely nice to be on the cover.”
Brodeur says he played video games when he was younger, reeling off the names of old-school consoles.
“Lately these graphics are too complex for me to follow,” he said with a laugh. “It’s real-life, from the way they skate, the way they hit and the way goalies make saves, it’s unbelievable.”
His familiarity these days comes through his kids, especially with the NHL game.
“They always played for the Devils, that’s for sure,” he said.
And why not? Brodeur leads the NHL in most games played by a goalie (1,220), minutes played (71,786), wins (669), saves made (30,569) and shutouts (121).
In the playoffs, he has another 205 games, 113 wins and 24 shutouts.
So is the Martin Brodeur in the game as good as in real-life?
“I like to believe I’m a little bit better than that,” he laughed, “but they’re pretty good.”
The fan vote campaign to select the cover athlete – it started with 60 candidates –garnered 22 million votes online and another million via Twitter.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux was on the cover of last year’s game.
“NHL 14” is slated for release Sept. 10 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.