March 07, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Martin Brodeur and the 1995 Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils got back together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise's first title.

The age of the players wasn't the only big change. The recently retired Brodeur played the first two periods of the reunion game on Saturday at center instead of at his usual place in the crease as the star goalie.

The NHL's career leader in wins and shutouts donned the goalie gear in the third period and allowed five goals. But during his time at forward, Brodeur had a goal and assist. It just wasn't enough as his White Team lost 10-6 to the Red Team.

Standout defenseman Bruce Driver got his desired time in goal, freeing Brodeur to play up front.

''I know Bruce wanted to play a little in net,'' Brodeur said. ''I'm sure that they all expected to see me in goal.''

Driver said the decision was made earlier in the week, but it was kept a secret until game time.

''Marty said that he was looking forward to coming in,'' said Driver, who helps to organize charity fundraising events involving former Devils. ''We kept it quiet on our end. At first, we sort of laughed about it, but then I realized he was serious.

''I knew that he likes to play out front from time to time. I told him that we would do whatever he wanted to do.''

Brian Rolston scored four goals to lead the Red Team. Claude Lemieux, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP 20 years ago, paced the White Team with two goals.

Brodeur was a main attraction for the approximately 3,000 fans at AmeriHealth Pavilion, the Devils' practice rink. He had been a stalwart for the team until the end of last season. He had a brief stay this season with the St. Louis Blues before announcing his retirement after nine games.

Brodeur has remained with the Blues as a senior adviser.

There was an air of disappointment Saturday when the starting lineups were announced and Driver, the president of the team's alumni association, came out wearing the goaltending equipment.

Brodeur donned his regular - yet oversized - No. 30 sweater, wore a helmet, and carried a regular-sized stick. Those in attendance weren't happy, especially after they waited nearly two hours for ceremonies to begin.

Brodeur said he is now comfortable in retirement and with his job in the St. Louis front office.

''I'm enjoying myself more now as a member of the Blues organization than I was when I was playing,'' Brodeur said. ''I tested it and made the decision to retire easier. I get to travel, get to watch practice and observe. It's all good.

''I'm having a blast doing what I do.''

Brodeur retired with 1,266 games played, 691 victories and 125 shutouts. He won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie four times and was a nine-time All-Star.

Brodeur said that he was looking forward to returning to New Jersey and seeing all of his teammates.

''It was a great experience,'' Brodeur said. ''I have been skating since November. Some of these guys hadn't skated in a very long time. I think I liked playing forward today more than I did being in goal. I didn't expect anything different coming back here. It's always neat.''

After the game, the players were treated to a dinner together. They will be honored Sunday before a home game between the Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers.

''It was a lot of fun, and it was everything I thought it would be,'' Driver said. ''It was a great day.''

Defenseman Ken Daneyko, who spent the longest tenure with the franchise and currently serves as the team's television analyst, agreed.

''Once everyone got their gear on and got back out there, everything comes right back,'' said Daneyko, one of three members of the first Devils championship team to have his number retired. ''You could see how special the day was to the guys who were out there.

''You don't expect those things until you get out there. There's always going to be a special bond with this team. There were a lot of characters on and off the ice.''

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