I just returned home from Montreal after a long, memorable night at Bell Centre.
In case you hadn't figured it out by now, the Devils are not practicing today. They will get back to work at 10:30 a.m. Monday to prepare for Tuesday night's game against Chicago at Prudential Center and Martin Brodeur's first shot at breaking his tie with Patrick Roy at the top of the NHL's all-time wins list.
I tried to give you all the reactions to Brodeur tying Roy's record after Saturday's game. Now, I thought I'd pass along my own
I can't say I was completely surprised by standing ovation Brodeur received from the Canadiens' fans after the game, but I wasn't sure what they would do. Only minutes before they were booing and chanting "Carbo! Carbo!" for fired coach Guy Carbonneau.
The great thing about the ovation was that it was completely spontaneous. It reminded me a little of being in Ottawa for Wayne Gretzky's final NHL game in Canada in 1999. At the time, Gretzky hadn't officially announced that he was going to retire, but everyone suspected that it was his last trip to Canada, so there was a great atmosphere the entire game.
I don't even remember who won that game, but I remember well the long ovation Gretzky received at the end of the game. It continued long after Gretzky left the ice and he graciously came back out to take another bow.
It's a moment from this job that I will never forget. Saturday's game also falls into that category.
The reaction of the fans and Brodeur's teammates, who formed a mini receiving line for Brodeur as he left the ice, were not pre-planned, but were perfect. Often at the end of a game, I'll rush out of the press box as soon as the final buzzer sounds to get down to the locker room as quickly as possible and some other reporters did that Saturday. I made sure to stick around to take in the whole scene and am glad I did.
I have no idea how things will go Tuesday night at Prudential Center if Brodeur breaks Roy's record that night. It would be disappointing if that game is not sold out.
Commissioner Gary Bettman plans to attend and follow Brodeur wherever he goes if he doesn't break the record Tuesday (I have a feeling Kevin Weekes will start in Carolina on Wednesday regardless of what happens Tuesday).
Brodeur's father, Denis, who had a great seat near the glass with his camera on Saturday, also said he'd travel to see his son break the record, wherever and whenever that takes place. Brodeur's children will also be able to attend Tuesday after missing Saturday's game.
Still, Brodeur tying Roy's record Saturday night in his hometown at Montreal could not have worked out better. Having him break the record at home would put the cherry on top.
It would be difficult to match the atmosphere of Saturday, though. There is no better city in the NHL to see a game than Montreal. Saturday proved to be another example of that.
I was just watching between periods on NBC and Mike Milbury referrred to Brodeur as No. 35. Maybe he was thinking of Scott Clemmensen.
In case you were wondering, the telecast of Tuesday's game will remain on MSG Plus locally. According to the Devils, there is no plan for Versus to pick up the game.