Sunday in Montreal:
Canadiens, Brodeur, Robinson remember Gary Carter
By Dave Stubbs, The GazetteFebruary 19, 2012
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur watches as the Montreal Canadiens play tribute to former
Montreal Expos legend Gary Carter during NHL action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Sunday, February 19, 2012.
Photograph by: (Allen McInnis / THE GAZETTE)
MONTREAL - New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur remembers the days when Expos catcher Gary Carter would stop by the Brodeurs’ St. Léonard home, dropping in on the man who many times froze the Kid’s megawatt smile.
Denis Brodeur, Martin’s dad, was for years the Expos’ photographer, snapping the ballplayers’ Florida mug shots and their exploits on the diamond in Montreal.
Carter, needless to say, was in many of those photos.
And young Marty often tagged along when his dad headed down to West Palm Beach for the spring-training assignment.
On Sunday night, Martin Brodeur stood in his goal crease before his team’s 3-1 victory over the Canadiens and watched the emotional scoreboard tribute to Carter, who died last Thursday of brain cancer at age 57.
Denis Brodeur wasn’t in his usual spot at the glass taking photos of his son. He himself had undergone brain surgery Friday and was said postgame by his son to be doing well.
“Gary came to our house a lot and autographed pictures for me and my brothers,” Martin Brodeur said. “He was really close to our family. We were very saddened by the news (of his illness and death).”
Canadiens legend Larry Robinson had his own special memories of Carter, the Hall-of-Fame-bound defenceman and his wife, Jeanette, having been practically Kirkland neighbours of the Kid and his wife, Sandy.
“We knew them well,” said Robinson, a Devils assistant coach. “We’d been over to his and Sandy’s place on a few occasions. He was just a tremendous man. This was a very, very sad day. We miss him dearly.”
Robinson, who shared the Montreal sports spotlight with Carter during the latter’s 1974-84 Expos days, recalled doing various events with the Kid at CFCF-TV, and of taking his own son to the ballgames they both loved.
The Canadiens organized a tasteful and emotional tribute to Carter before their 6 p.m. game.
It began with the warmup shortly after 5:30, organist Diane Bibeau playing the Expos’ old theme song as the Habs skated onto the ice.
Every Canadien wore a sweater with their own number on the sleeves but with “Carter” nameplated across the shoulder blades and the Kid’s No. 8 on the back. Each helmet bore a No. 8 sticker.
Players were to autograph their jerseys and this week they’ll be auctioned at canadiens.com, proceeds going to the Gary Carter Foundation.
(A curious piece of trivia: centreman Bill Carter played eight games for the Canadiens in 1958-59 and 1961-62. During his brief stay he wore No. 25 and, yes, No. 8.)
The start of the game was delayed for a five-minute celebration of Gary Carter’s life, house announcer Michel Lacroix relating many of the Hall of Famer’s career highlights.
Canadiens mascot Youppi!, adopted by the Habs after the ballclub left town in 2004, appeared on the ice wearing an Expos uniform; he’d be back in his Habs jersey before long, but kept his Expos cap on to the end.
And then to the Eagles’ 1976 Hotel California album track New Kid In Town, a monster hit during Carter’s days in Montreal, a slideshow of photos and video of the Kid appeared on the scoreboard and flashed on the ice, followed by a moment of silence.
Brodeur would improve his lifetime record against the Canadiens to 43-18-5-0 with a goals-against average of 1.81, a save percentage of .931 and nine shutouts.
This wasn’t Brodeur’s busiest night, the first star’s opponent managing only four shots through the first 26:12 of the game.
The 39-year-old hasn’t committed himself to returning to hockey next season, an unrestricted free agent come July 1, but before Sunday’s game he said he’s leaning to another year.
Surely he’s discovered the fountain of youth?
“I don’t know about that when I wake up in the morning,” Brodeur said, laughing. “I want to concentrate on doing my best to get myself into a better state of mind to make my decision about my future.
“It will be how consistent I can be. That’s harder as you get older. Winning is a big part of it and being a family with this team has been a lot of fun. If that continues, it will help me make a good decision.”
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