Three-time Stanley Cup winner and 16-year veteran of the New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur became the NHL's all-time leader in wins by a goaltender last month. Brodeur shares his travel tips and highlights with USA TODAY.
Q: Where have you been recently that you liked or were surprised by?
A: During the season, my favorite city to visit for road games is Chicago. I love Chicago, from the restaurants and places to hang out to the whole makeup of the city. Rush Street has tons of little pubs and restaurants to check out during any time of the year. The team always stays in the best hotels and The Ritz-Carlton is no different. It's right in downtown Chicago and a pretty neat spot.
Q: What's the best place you've ever visited?
A: I loved our vacation in the Turks and Caicos in 2003 the most. We had just won the Stanley Cup and I left a couple of days after the parade. My then girlfriend and now wife, Genevieve, and I stayed at the Point Grace. It was a small hotel — all suites — and it varied from our place right on the beach with a walkout ramp to the sand, to the top floor that went for something like $20,000 a day. It was just a really classy place, but it was also fun and very romantic. We had a chef we could call and say, "Listen, we want to eat some fish." They'd ask what kind we wanted, went out and caught it in the ocean, and brought it to our room. We had a kitchen with a butler. It was great.
I spent time with Dallas Mavericks' forward Dirk Nowitzki. I met him there for the first time. I saw this seven-foot-tall guy coming into the lobby and later I got a voicemail that said, 'Dirk Nowitzki invites you to go to his birthday party.' We went deep sea fishing, scuba diving and tried all kinds of Caribbean water sports. It was a lot of fun.
Q: What's the most surprising/unexpected place you're ever visited?
A: Warsaw. I played a game there during a hockey tour in 2004, and I didn't expect anything of it. But the food, the people, everything was really nice. We stayed in Warsaw for a day and a half, not that long. I didn't expect Poland to be a special stop for us. We went to Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic. I visited 10 countries in 17 days during that tour. The people just appreciated us.
Former NHLer Mariusz Czerkawski was the host and he took care of us as well as any other host that we had. I didn't spend that much time with the people, but it was just the setting and how we were taken care of. You didn't think Poland and hockey really fit, but it was unbelievable — they knew their hockey. As for the food, I actually ate mostly American food. It just happened to be good. I knew nothing at all about Warsaw before I got there. But the history of it was tremendous, looking at the buildings and how old the country was. You could see the differences within the towns, going from one street to another. Great trip.
Q: What's your favorite vacation spot?
A: Orlando because it's just golf, golf, golf. And after a long season of hockey, golf is relaxing for me. I typically go to the ChampionsGate resort in Orlando. I have a five handicap so I obviously play often. During the season, I play some golf in Jersey, early in the season or even in the playoffs on days off, just to relax. For a hockey player, the best thing about golf is it helps you just forget about everything — the pressure of winning or losing, media attention, whatever.
Q: Can you offer an insider tip or recommendation for your favorite vacation place?
A: I know this is an obvious tip but it bears repeating. Make sure you keep your passport on you when you to go to Europe. I saw how tough it is to get around for a couple of my buddies when we were in Europe. It's not fun when you're asked to present your passport or I.D. and you don't have it.