Through His Lens: Denis Brodeur’s Photos Leave Lasting Impact on NHL

Dave Turner

It is said that a picture says a thousand words.

One can only begin to imagine eloquent prose that the timeless images of Denis Brodeur express.

Yesterday, the hockey world lost a true legend with the passing of Brodeur, the father of Martin, at the age of 82.

As a photographer for the Montreal Canadiens during their glory years, Denis captured some of the most timeless images in NHL history, photographing countless hall-of-fame players.

My father, Jim Turner, was the Devils team photographer from 1987-1995. He shared some of his memories of Denis, who would frequent the Meadowlands early on in Martin’s career.

“Denis came to one of the first games that Marty ever played in and Marty introduced me to him and said to take care of him, so I had Denis sit next to me in the photographer’s box that was next to the Devils bench. Denis would always say that he didn’t want to make Martin nervous, so he didn’t bring a camera to the first few games, but I always said that Martin was too cool to ever be nervous,” he said.

Little did they both know that two decades later, Martin would be the considered one of the best goaltenders in NHL history.

“I had taken some pictures of Martin that I had mailed to him and in return he sent me a picture back,” my dad said. “When I opened it up, it was a black and white signed picture of Maurice Richard with the Conn-Smythe trophy. It was his way of saying thank you, and it is something that I still cherish today.”

Today, in the world of speedy digital cameras and well-lit arenas, photography is vastly different than it was when photographers were shooting with available light in poorly lit arenas. Back when the elder Brodeur manned a camera, film had to be developed the next day, and when strobe lights were finally implemented, you weren’t able to just hold the shutter and create multiple images in a row — you had to be much more precise.

That’s what makes the images of Denis Brodeur that much more impressive. In 2006, the Montreal native sold his entire library of over 110,000 images, spanning over 40 years, to the NHL. That move ensures that his work will live on forever.

My father also recalled the kindness of Denis during the Devils Stanley Cup Run in 1995. Of course, as the Montreal team photographer, Denis was part of many cup-winning celebrations, so he knew to soak in the moment.

“Denis made it a point to get me to be involved in the celebration when the Devils won the Eastern Conference and he sat me down with Martin and Prince of Wales trophy and took my camera and took a picture of us with the trophy, that’s a memory that I cherish,” he said. “After they won they won the Stanley Cup, he made it a point that I was in the locker room and he put me over with Martin and we both drank from the Stanley Cup. That was quite a moment.”

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That sort of kindness exemplifies the character of the former Team Canada goalie, who won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics.

“He was really proud of Martin and Martin was really proud of him. I went to Martin’s apartment to photograph his mask for a project and sitting on his coffee table were some of Denis’s books full of photographs and Martin couldn’t wait to show them to me. He was just as proud of his dad as his dad was of him,” added Turner.

There’s no doubt that the entire Brodeur family is immensely proud of the legacy that Denis leaves behind.  His work has made an immeasurable contribution to the history of the National Hockey League.

Through those images and the countless people who’s lives he has impacted, the legacy of Denis Brodeur will live on, eternally.

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