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The Stanley Cup Journal

(August 22, 2003) — In the area around Lac-Sainte-Marie, Quebec, Martin Brodeur is known as a brilliant chef, an engaging raconteur, a great Dad and occasionally, a wedding planner. Wouldn't the locals be surprised to discover that he is also the best goaltender in the National Hockey League? Three days after leading the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup, Brodeur's third since joining the NHL, he carried away the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in 2002-03, the Jennings Trophy for having the best goals against average in the league (shared with the Philadelphia Flyers' goaltending tandem) and was selected to the NHL's First All-Star Team. Martin's 41 wins and 9 shutouts were best in the NHL last season and a big reason why he was also a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.

On a hot, summer day, there is no better feeling than a cool, Quebec lake.
The Stanley Cup arrived in Lac-Ste-Marie, Quebec at 9:45 on the morning of Friday, August 15 and was met by the All-Star netminder himself. Residents dub Lac-Sainte-Marie the 'best-kept secret in Quebec,' and you can certainly see why - rolling mountains, incredible natural forests and brilliant waterways. Brodeur clearly adores this town in the Laurentians and it is evident why. Close to Sainte-Adele, Lac-Sainte-Marie is just north of the beautiful resort town of Saint-Saveur, and only 60 kms. north of Montreal. His home is amazing, and Martin and his four children are very comfortable spending their summers in the area. Family and friends were waiting for the arrival of the Stanley Cup, and although this is the third championship for Martin, neither he nor the people closest to him ever grow tired of these visits.

Brodeur rented a pontoon boat and took the group, including the Stanley Cup, through the water canals that crisscross the area around Martin's home. With the morning sun establishing a template for a gorgeous day, the group had a brilliant time before returning to the house.

Martin Brodeur has four children - Anthony, twins Jeremy and William and little Anabelle - and the kids got a chance to eat their cereal out of the world's oldest (and most incredible) cereal bowl. Dad poured in the cereal, splashed in some cold milk and stuck four spoons into the bowl of the Stanley Cup. "There you go, kids." The Brodeur children gobbled up their breakfast. Anthony asked, "Daddy, can I have some more?" "Sure," Martin laughed as he poured another serving into the sterling silver trophy. Good thing the kids didn't want toast with peanut butter and jelly for breakfast that morning!

Big kids and little kids alike loved toasting marshmallows plucked out of the Stanley Cup.
That Friday evening, Martin donned the chef's apron and whipped up a great dinner of chicken and steak for his twenty or so guests. Just like he'll never divulge his secret 'book' on NHL shooters, Martin equally guards his cooking secrets, but there was a spiciness to the sauce that had Brodeur's friends claiming 'best ever!' After supper, Brodeur and his boys filled the Stanley Cup with marshmallows and carried the trophy out to the firepit. Using old coathangers, straightened, to skewer the marshmallows, the guests would pluck a marshmallow out of the Cup, push it onto the end of the coathanger then hold it over the flame. Some were able to get their treats golden brown and gooey but the kids went for their own recipe - 'marshmallows flambé.' "Dad, that's how I like them," Jeremy claimed, as Martin blew out the flames on yet another marshmallow fireball. "Me too," said William.

"Let's celebrate," said Martin, pouring apple juice into the Stanley Cup, which by then was also adorned with Brodeur's 2002 Olympic gold medal. Each of the children got to sip from the Stanley Cup just like Martin and his mates did last June. Then, when the kids were finished, Brodeur poured champagne into the bowl so the adults could celebrate with their own refreshment.

The incredible evening was winding down magnificently, when Martin shouted, "Everybody's going into the pool!" Next thing you knew, bodies were being tossed into Brodeur's saltwater pool. "There's just one rule," Martin laughed as he avoided being tossed into the pool himself, "No one 65 or older gets thrown in!" Bodies splashed everywhere, but with the safest of fun in mind. It's a brilliant natural-looking pool with lights all around and barstools built right into one end to form a pool bar. The salt in the water is subtle, but much better for your skin than chlorinated tapwater. For those thrashing about after being tossed in, they could be assured that saltwater is better for clothes, too!

The event everyone waited for was the third Brodeur ball hockey tournament with the Stanley Cup on the line. Martin's team took the honours in a tight contest.
Saturday morning at ten was the event everyone was waiting for. It was Martin Brodeur's third ball hockey tournament. Each year that the Devils have won the Stanley Cup, Martin has gathered his childhood friends to continue their ball hockey tradition from childhood. If you lived north of the streetlight in Brodeur's Montreal neighbourhood, you played on one team; south of the lamp post, you were on the other team. In 1995, Martin and his team lost the tournament but in 2000, they exacted revenge and took the championship. It's now 2003 and the deciding tournament, winner receiving bragging rights and the Stanley Cup. Each game goes to 7 goals, and the tournament is a best of five.

During these ball hockey games, Martin Brodeur, the world's greatest goaltender, plays forward (or, to use street hockey parlance, Brodeur plays 'out'). Virtually the same teams compete today as the ones that played in the neighbourhood when they were all ten. It's great fun and an event eagerly anticipated with each of Martin's Stanley Cup wins.

This year, the tournament went right down to the wire. Each team won two games, and it was a race to 7 in game five that would decide the championship. The spirits were high and the quality of hockey very good. Martin's older brother Denis Jr. had a cannon of a shot and wasn't afraid to use it. Finally, Martin's team defeated its challengers 7-5 to win their second championship. After watching the celebration, one had to wonder what was more exciting for Martin - winning an Olympic gold medal, winning the Stanley Cup or winning the neighbourhood ball hockey championship!

The closeknit Brodeur family --
Denis and Mireille and their children Denis Jr., Claude, Line, Sylvie and the baby, Martin. There's a new addition this year -- named Stanley.
The entire Brodeur family is loaded with talent, and not just of the athletic variety. Martin's oldest brother, Denis Jr., is an outstanding photographer, and all of the photographs you see here were taken by him and his colleague, Jocelyn Chevalier. Martin's other brother, Claude, was a pitcher in the Montreal Expos' system. Martin also has two sisters, Line and Sylvie. Martin's mom is Mireille and his Dad, Denis Brodeur Sr., is acknowledged as one of hockey's finest photographers, and was the official photographer for the Montreal Canadiens for years. He published an outstanding book, 'Goalies - Guardians of the Net,' a couple of years back. Denis Sr. was also an outstanding netminder and part of the Canadian hockey team that won a bronze medal at the Olympic Winter Games held in 1956 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Ball Hockey on a hot day
necessitates cold refreshment. Martin and the kids enjoy Slushies from a special Cup.
After a particularly active game of ball hockey, participants and spectators alike were looking for ways to cool down, and what better way than to drink Slushies…right out of the Stanley Cup! Martin had the bowl filled right to the top. "Drink up," he invited as he placed a numbers of large straws around the Cup's brim. Then, the group sat down to a lunch of fresh roasted corn and hotdogs.

The Devils' star devoted the afternoon to 'friends of friends.' Each of his closest friends was allowed to invite a few friends to visit the Stanley Cup up close and personal, meet Martin Brodeur and his family and to do so in a casual atmosphere with snacks and drinks. The FOAFs (friends of a friend) were absolutely thrilled to get such a privileged vantage point, and Martin's friends were delighted to be able to share their friendship with Martin. A reggae band called Jabjab performed throughout the afternoon, keeping the spirit 'irie, mon.'

At five o'clock, the FOAFs cleared out and about eighty friends and family remained for dinner. But while the guests chatted, Martin and his mother and father went into the town of St-Adolphe d'Howard. Martin signed autographs for forty-five minutes with the Cup at his side under a banner that read 'FELICITATIONS, MARTIN BRODEUR.'

There were whispers going on around the Brodeur home before dinner. Something was going on, but no one was talking out loud about what it was. Out by the pool, Martin has a boulder for a diving platform and the Stanley Cup was sitting up there. Martin's friends Sami Ozeer and Jacqui Wolter had driven up to Brodeur's home from New Jersey, and they were standing up by the Stanley Cup with Mike Bolt from the Hockey Hall of Fame. Mike said, "Jacqui and Sami, the Stanley Cup is filled with magic. For over one hundred years, men have done everything in their power to win this trophy, and once they have captured it, the Stanley Cup has brought them good fortune." Both Jacqui and Sami nodded, and reached out to touch the Cup, hoping a little of the good luck would rub off on them, too. "Inside the bowl of the Stanley Cup there are very special engravings," continued Bolt. "I'd like you to see them up close." Jacqui peered into the bowl of the Stanley Cup and discovered an engagement ring placed inside. "Oh my God," she squealed, and Sami dropped to one knee. "Jacqui, I love you with all of my heart, and on this very magical evening in the presence of all these wonderful people, I want to ask you to be my bride. Will you marry me?" "Yes Sami, yes. I'd be honoured to be your wife," came her answer, and as the two embraced with tears of joy in their eyes, Martin Brodeur and his dinner guests erupted with applause and cheers. "Congratulations you two," said Martin, raising a toast to the couple. "May you enjoy much happiness!" Sami almost fell off the boulder, but his massive smile would have cushioned a tumble.

Dinner was served, and plates of pasta and sushi filled Brodeur's hungry guests. Martin's friend Andre, one of his ball hockey pals, owns a restaurant in Montreal and provided the incredible food for the group on this Saturday night. After supper, guests ventured over to the tennis court, which is where the ball hockey tournament took place. There, they were treated to a high energy concert by Higher Ground. This was no small feat as the concert featured full production - stage, sound, lights. The band had spent five hours setting up their gear and preparing for their show. Higher Ground hit the stage at nine o'clock, and performed versions of well-known hits. By ten, the local police dropped over to investigate the volume level, but when they discovered it was a Stanley Cup celebration with Martin Brodeur, they had no further questions to ask other than, "Can we get a picture with you and the Cup?"

Higher Ground had a new lead singer for this song. "Celebrate good times, come on!"
The crowd was very involved in Higher Ground's outstanding show, but the concert achieved a new plateau when the Devils' goaltender was convinced to take the stage and perform with the band. "Martin! Martin! Come on up here and grab that mic. If anybody deserves to sing this song, it's you. Mes dames et messieurs, here's a big hit that Kool and the Gang made famous a few years ago - 'Celebration'!" Martin was pulled up on stage and seemed quite comfortable holding the microphone. "Hey Martin, as a singer, you make a hell of a goaltender," hollered one of his buddies, and the group howled with laughter.

At 11:15, Higher Ground thanked Martin and his friends for a fun evening and said goodnight to the partiers. Brodeur carried the Stanley Cup over to a tented area and first poured apple juice into the Cup for the kids, then when they were done, poured champagne for the adults. The group toasted an amazing party and an even more terrific host. "Martin, we thank you for sharing your incredible victory with us and want you to know how much you mean to us as a friend," said one of the ladies, raising a glass to toast the All-Star. "Yeah," shouted another guest, laughing. "Why don't you win the Cup again next June so we can do it all over again!"

For the next several hours, Martin and his group of friends sat, the Stanley Cup peering over Brodeur's shoulder, as the host told stories. Martin Brodeur is a great storyteller, and he reminisced with his friends and family about entering the NHL, about his Olympic experience and about how sweet it has been to win the Stanley Cup three times as a member of the New Jersey Devils' organization. The gathered group would have let Brodeur talk all night, but at 3AM, Martin looked around the circle, smiled and said, "Life is good! Thank you guys for a couple of great days. As for me, it's time for bed." Hugs and handshakes ensued. Martin had arranged for a limousine to take the Stanley Cup into Montreal for its flight back to Toronto. "Hey, say hi to Scotty for me," Martin said. The Stanley Cup would be in the arms of the Devils' captain by breakfast Sunday morning, August 17th.

Kevin Shea is a hockey writer living in Toronto.


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