When I saw the news the other day that Martin Brodeur had walked into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, I was not at all surprised. In fact, I would have been surprised if he did not get in on his first year. We all know how good he was, I do not need to make that argument on this website.
Seeing that news, however, got me interested. I was not sure off the top of my head what other players to have donned a uniform for the New Jersey Devils are also in the Hall. I knew that Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer were in, Brendan Shanahan as well, but otherwise I was only guessing.
When I looked it up, I was decently surprised to see that 11 players who have donned a Devils uniform are enshrined. Brodeur is the only goaltender on that list, but when you see the list, it starts to make a little more sense. Here they are:
What a quality list, huh. You have players with NJ going as far back as 1987 with Shanahan, and going all the way to 2014 with Brodeur. At least one hall of famer was on the team every year in the middle there, which would be 27 straight years. If Patrik Elias gets in one day, that number can expand even further. At the max, in both 1991 and 1995, you had six future hall of famers on the team at one time. Of course, in 1991 Brodeur and Niedermayer barely played, so if you want to say ’95 is the better year for that, I would not be against it.
In terms of impact they had specifically for the Devils, no one can deny that Brodeur is the most important name on that list. I think you could make the argument that he is the best and most important name on that list period, but that is a good debate to have. Of course, Brodeur is the only real true lifer for the Devils. Yes he had that short stint in St. Louis, but as a player, I think we can easily say he was a career Devil. The other two players who had their biggest impact in the NHL while playing for NJ would be Stevens and Niedermayer, the other two on this list who have their numbers retired by the team.
As for everyone else, it is debatable to say that any one of them would consider themselves a Devil above any other team. To go down that list from the top down, Statsny certainly would not. He was a Nordique first and foremost. Fetisov in a real interesting case. His best years were in the former Soviet Union, but in the NHL, he split his time fairly evenly between NJ and Detroit. His better years were in NJ, but he won his cup in Detroit. You could debate that I guess. Larionov only played in NJ for one year, his last in the NHL. Gilmour only played in NJ for a year and a half. Nieuwendyk won a cup here, but was only on the team for a season and a half. Shanahan was drafted in NJ and was one of the key players who brought the team from a Mickey Mouse organization into a true contender, but he is most certainly a Red Wing. Housley was literally only on the team for 22 games in 1996, while Andreychuk was on the team for 3 and a half seasons in between Cup #1 and Cup #2. Most of his time, however, was with Buffalo. So on that list, it is hard to say anyone is a real Devil above all else.
Therefore, while 11 players in the Hall have donned the NJ sweater at some point, I think it is fairly safe to say that with the addition of Brodeur this year, only three players enshrined are true Devils. Elias would make four if he gets inducted one day, but that is a definite debate. I certainly hope he does at some point. Also of note, Lou Lamoriello is in the Hall of Fame as a builder, and while he is now onto his 2nd organization since leaving New Jersey, he is most certainly a lifelong Devil as well, as well as the long time namesake of this blog.
What does this all mean? Well simply put, that the induction of Brodeur is real special moment for the Devils organization. With Stevens and Niedermayer they were the main team, no question, but Washington and Anaheim also had reason to celebrate. With Brodeur, it is just the Devils. St. Louis should and will celebrate it given his position in the front office, but this is a celebration for our team, period. And that, without a doubt, is a reason to dust off those old #30 jerseys and wear them again with pride come the start of the season. In my opinion, any time we can celebrate the greatness of Marty, and the greatness of the 3 Cup teams, we absolutely should, and the induction of #30 into the Hall is certainly a viable reason to do so.