On Tuesday, February 9th, the New Jersey Devils will raise Martin Brodeur’s #30 to the rafters.
Over the course of the next few days, I want to share some of my favorite moments covering one of my favorite all-time hockey players. I was lucky that I spent the majority of my hockey writing career covering Brodeur and his team. Marty (as well as Jacques Lemaire) was sort of my professor of hockey. After almost every game, I’d stand next to his locker, absorbing everything he was saying. He made me see and understand hockey very differently. His book was my Bible in understanding the New Jersey Devils way.
I thought the world of Marty, and I still do.
After my surgery to remove a tumor in my neck back in 2013, one of the side effects was loss of memory. It was one of those possible side effects that doesn’t happen very often, but because I was having cognitive issues prior to the surgery, it was inevitable that I would have some difficulties post-op.
The first time I was in the locker room after the memories had disappeared, I remember looking at Marty thinking there were only two things I remembered about that guy sitting there. I had to keep looking up at his name plate above his head to force myself to remember his name. First, I recognized he was someone very important to me, even if I couldn’t remember why. The two memories I had of him was the night he turned this Rangers fan into his fan, and his 552nd win. Everything else about him came back much later over the course of a year.
Before those memories returned, I kept looking at Marty throughout the season thinking how sad I was that I could not remember why this man was important to me beyond those two memories. This was during Marty’s last season as a Devil. Every single game that season was about saying goodbye to him, just in case.
The reason why Marty was so important to me was because he was the person I considered my professor of hockey. I learned so much from him every single time he spoke. Marty also gave me an incredible moment to share with him beyond covering him and witnessing him break all of those records. Marty made me part of a prank he played on one of my favorite Devils, David Clarkson. This prank went on for a good three years. Each time he added to the prank, it would just make me laugh hysterically. Yet, Marty was always so calm, cool and collective about it…like he didn’t do anything. But it was all Marty. He was secretly enjoying the hell out of this.
I have to say, he has no idea what including me in on this prank meant to me. There really are no words to explain what it meant to me. There are very few women that cover the New Jersey Devils. I was met with a lot of adversity in the beginning because I was a) female, b) new to the press box (it was very rare they let anyone new in), and c) some reporters thought I was a threat so they were mean and nasty towards me. I represented change because this was the first time a completely internet based news site was allowed into the press box. I represented the future of hockey media, which meant that a lot of old school media would be phased out if their publications didn’t evolve (or if the reporter didn’t evolve). I wrote about hockey very differently than the rest of my peers. I struggled to be accepted during those first years, so I kept my head down and did the work, barely even looking up. I was trying to prove that I was worthy enough to be in that box just like the rest of them.
For someone like Brodeur to break the mold of what was expected of a New Jersey Devil (because we all know that Lou Lamoriello ran a very tight ship) and to publicly do this prank, including me in on it, he helped me out in a way that I can’t even begin to explain. I think it was the first time someone actually helped me to feel accepted, because what Brodeur did in this one post…it was part of changing how the Devils would be covered from there on out. It was the moment he showed a side of himself that fans had never been able to see before, especially in the media.
After the summer I ran this post, I was in the press box watching the jumbotron when they aired this video:
I about died laughing. I couldn’t believe Marty did that. He was continuing the prank! I had this feeling that David Clarkson had no idea what he had done, so after the game, I mentioned to Clarkson he should probably watch the latest video. I was right, he hadn’t seen the video and had no idea what Marty had done.
There was also the time I went on the California road trip, and truthfully, the only reason why I did it was because Clarkson had made some remark about me going to Europe to cover some other NHL team. I never went on the road with the Devils. So I went on the road to cover them in San Jose, Anaheim and LA to appease David.
I can’t remember which city we were in, but I was talking with David about his ride with Lance Armstrong (before the big controversy happened). Marty came up behind us and said, “Looking better.” I turned around to look at Marty like…why are you saying I’m looking better? I turned back to look at David and his face had turned beet red in complete embarrassment. I roared with laughter. He was talking about David. David got so upset. He pulled me over after the interview and told me to not listen to what Marty says. He was quite upset.
David later tried to claim that I was fishing for stuff from Marty. I told him, “He just tells me this stuff.” I wasn’t fishing. David just looked at me like…Yeah, right.
The reason why this prank was so effective was because Clarkson and I were such huge fans of each other. To me, David could do no wrong. He was the player I was most proud of because I had seen him playing in the minors. I remember watching David and thinking, that kid is going to make it into the NHL. Sure enough, he did. He’s also the only player to almost make me cry in the locker room. When I interviewed him for his growing up hockey story, we started talking about his organization called Clarky’s Kids. He had told me how over the summer one of the kids called him and told him he was going to die soon. He had pulled his car over to the side of the road and…yeah, we were both fighting back tears. That interview changed him from being what fans thought was a worthless goon to a respectable player that you can fall in love with. That interview changed people’s perception of him. They finally got to see the David Clarkson I saw.
Marty starting the prank in my personal blog was his way of outing the fact that Clarkson read my blog. Kevin Weekes told me later that this prank really upset Clarkson. He was so sensitive about this issue. I know Kevin was trying to help his pal out, but it made what Marty did even funnier.
The prank didn’t stop when David headed to Toronto. When the man with the Devilish looks of a God posed for the cover of Men’s Fashion Canada, he should have known we would have said something about that Willy Wonka coat. Marty told me he had said something directly to Clarky about it. What was said…only those two know. But the way Marty tried to not smile when I asked him…you know what he said was really good.
Here is the post that officially started the prank.
[Originally published on June 28, 2010]
A couple of players that made the best dressed list last year were able to have some input on who they thought were the best/worst dressed players in the NHL. No surprise that they would pick their own teammates to headline that list.
There are a few additions and deletions. There’s even a practical joke being played in this year’s list. But rest assured, the long awaited list is here and ready to be unveiled.
And once again…Vincent LeCavalier did not make the list. Read on to figure out why.
5. Donald Brashear (New York Rangers). I never would have guessed that Mike Green would choose Donald Brashear as the guy he thought was the best dressed in the NHL. Believe it or not, Green wasn’t joking.
I had to do a Google search on Brashear just to sit back and say…WHOA…now that’s a man that can dress well. Kind of in a…Shanahan stopped me dead in my tracks…kind of dress (read last year’s list for the #1 best dressed position to understand the reference).
Very sharp, very debonaire, very much what I was not expecting from him. But I will say this about black male athletes…they know how to dress. Just look at Kevin Weekes!
4. Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers).
Like the King could ever lose a best dressed spot. He actually climbs one notch this year. Why? Because of the photos released by the New York Rangers this year.
If Henrik wasn’t a Rangers goalie, he really could qualify as a supermodel. He has the right look. I’m surprised he’s not been approached by Ralph Lauren or Nautica to pose for them.
He’s so photogenic…I’ve never seen a single picture where Henrik actually looked bad. Even the photos that #1 Worst Dressed has taken of Henrik on his phone…they were all really good. Henrik doesn’t take a bad photo.
As for the clothes…it doesn’t matter what the man wears. I still say the same thing…who wears who? Do the clothes wear Henrik or does Henrik wear the clothes. It’s the person, not the clothes he wears that makes this best dressed list.
3. Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins).
Crosby may look simplistic in his clothing, but if you look closely, you’ll notice the fine details in the clothing that he wears. Granted, that’s what I look for in the clothing that I buy. Sid apparently does too. Never did I think Crosby would make this list, but when I saw the details in a polo he was wearing in Vegas, followed by the suit he wore the next day, I realized this kid knows a thing or two about fine clothing. It’s in the finer details. His eye for great clothing puts him on this list.2. Yann Danis (New Jersey Devils).
Would you believe that this is Martin Brodeur’s pick for best dressed this year?
Now, I got a good look at what Yann was wearing (without realizing it), and I’m going to have to agree with Marty. There’s something about the way the Devils backup goalie dresses that is worth taking note.
“I think Yann Danis dresses pretty sharp,” Brodeur said. “I really don’t look at guys and the way they dress. Outside, I don’t see many other players on other teams because we don’t get to see them all dressed up. On our team, probably Yann is one of the top guys.”
1. Garnet Exelby (Toronto Maple Leafs). Now, how does this guy make the list? While I was sitting up in the press box at MSG, Garnet and a couple of the Leafs players sat down next to me. They kept looking over at me…only God knows why. When they got up at the end of the second period to head back down to the visiting team’s locker room, I looked over at them getting ready to head down the stairs, that was when I saw Garnet looking right at me. He put his fedora on and tipped his hat to me. I sat back and said to myself, ‘that right there is what qualifies as #1 best dressed on my list.’
You can’t just wear nice clothes to qualify for this list, you have to work the clothes. The clothes help define your character. Exelby knew how to work it, thus the reason why he is #1 this year.
5. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres).
My dear Ryan Miller just hasn’t been the same since he chopped off his long locks and opted for a shorter cut.
He could be all grungy with the long locks…and he still would have looked like a man deserving of the top honors on the best dressed list…but chop off the locks and Samson’s just not as interesting as he used to be to Delilah.
Now, I have a lot of respect for Ryan Miller but I have to say…seeing him over this past week, I had to cringe and say…you’re not that same Ryan Miller anymore. He just doesn’t have what it takes anymore to pull off any outfit.
4. Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers).
So his hair has been the butt of jokes lately. But what I find interesting is that I posted a picture of this guy waving at me at the NHL Awards…put up that it was Scott Hartnell…and NO ONE caught on that it wasn’t him!
That was the GEICO Caveman’s picture that I posted up…and NO ONE caught on that was not Scott Hartnell. They just assumed that Scott Hartnell was waving at me at the NHL Awards.
So seriously…it’s not a joke…Hartnell apparently looks like a caveman and no one can tell the difference anymore.
I will say this though…the GEICO Caveman cleans up way better than Hartnell. I’m just saying…look at the two photos.
Marty Brodeur put him on that list. When Marty told me that his pick for worst dressed in the NHL was David Clarkson, I had to think about that one. Then I realized…oh yeah…that Kangol hat he was wearing for the Clarky’s Kids photoshoot made him look as old as my grandpa.
Now that I take a closer look at the clothes…yep…yeah…DON’T. Actually, that shirt that you’re wearing in that photo…find it and burn it. Don’t donate it to charity for some other poor bloke to think it was cool to wear. Just do away with it altogether. I will let this Green Faux Pas pass if you just burn its ugliness out of existence.
Clarky may have the looks of a Devilish God, but not the fashion sense of a Devil in Disguise. Old Man…yeah…Clarky…that’s how Jeremy Roenick made last year’s list! He dressed like an old man, got put on this list and next…the man is OFF THE LIST COMPLETELY because someone told him why he made the list. He doesn’t dress like that anymore!
“Worst dressed?” Marty Brodeur asked. “Probably David Clarkson.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah. Just because he’s going to be pissed off because he’s going to hear that I said that about him.”
[Oh, and David, Marty expects you to call him now that he’s embarrassed the hell out of you in my blog. Gotta say, goalies have a way of embarrassing the hell out of David Clarkson in front of me. Marty…Weekes…yeah…we’re still laughing.]
Strangely enough, I can see Clarky’s face turning red right now after reading his placement on this list (and everyone else on the team laughing hysterically). That’s what makes it even funnier.
So take some fashion advice from last year’s honorable mention for #1 best dressed last year…he’s not just a great veteran, but apparently he’s got a great tailor. I think you should get the address for Marty’s tailor and GO!
Consider this an intervention.
2. Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals).
Now if last year’s #3 best dressed hadn’t pointed this out to me, I never would have thought of putting Ovi on this list. But he made his point and it was loud and clear.
I then realized…oooh…he makes a very strong point. Even the media guys were remarking on how bad Ovechkin looked (and they didn’t even know about this list).
Ovi…whatever hair product you’re using…you may want to steer clear from it because it’s grossing your teammate out.
Then again, I think you grossed out the media this past week too. Granted, I thought the clothes you were in during the Awards were pretty hot…but it was the clothes that were hot…I’m afraid Mike’s right…the greasy part made ya a NOT.
1. Sean Avery (New York Rangers). Like he could fall off of this list! Now, I had hopes for Sean. I really did. Until I saw him coming out of the Rangers locker room in a leprechaun green suit in PLAID. I don’t care what affiliation of plaid it comes from…it was plaid.
Plaid seems to be the ongoing theme for Avery…like it barfed all over his closet.
Avery can be hot when NOT IN PLAID. But IN PLAID…God help his wardrobe.
Here is the best and worst of Avery…the HOTs and NOTs of Mr. Fashionisto of the NHL. (Sorry Sean, I borrowed the pics from your Tweetphoto. After all, my comments to you every single time you wore plaid was about to culminate into one single post!)
Just for the record…that last pic…that’s a shirt…not a cardigan/shirt. The plaid/sweater combo…all one shirt. I think someone cut up a sweater and sewed it onto the plaid shirt. Ironically enough…I want to say it was Sean, because I’ve seen that red plaid shirt and that gray cardigan before.
But you get my drift here…the HOT photos are Sean NOT IN PLAID. The NOTs are ALL IN PLAID. Then again…everyone still talks about this photo (from Vogue):
Actually, Buddy Oakes from Preds On The Glass mentioned it after the Awards in Vegas on Wednesday. Even he was disgusted by it! (And Buddy has been aiming for the #1 spot in worst dressed in the media.)
I won’t even go into how ugly the shoes are. I think they speak for themselves.
So Sean…stay away from the plaids in every shape and form it comes in and maybe, just maybe I won’t be able to find a gazillion plaid photos of you from the past 6 months alone…and you’ll actually make #1 on the Best Dressed List. I will make an exception to the plaid. If you wear ONLY Burberry plaid, I will let it slide.
Once again, Sean Avery dominates the Dork Couture of the NHL. (For the record, I had more NOT photos than HOT photos…took a while to find a HOT photo to balance out the list)
[Thanks to Vanessa Perry for the weird sweater/plaid shirt combo.]