IN THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE, retiring a player’s number is often the highest honor a team can bestow. Once a legendary player retires, a team recognizes him by lifting his number to the rafters of the arena, never to be worn again.
Some players, however, make such an impact on their franchise that a simple retirement ceremony is not enough. Such is the case for former New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, arguably the greatest netminder in the history of the league.
The Devils have announced they will not only retire Brodeur’s number, but have also commissioned a statue of Brodeur to be built and placed outside of the Devils’ home arena, Prudential Center, in downtown Newark, New Jersey.
Enter Jon Krawczyk ’92, a native of Boonton Township, New Jersey, a lifelong Devils fan and, as it happens, a world-class sculptor.
Krawczyk was hired by the Devils in 2015 to create a lifelike sculpture of Brodeur, which will be unveiled in early February. The statue of Brodeur, unofficially dubbed The Salute, is of the goalie raising his stick in the air with his facemask tilted back on his head after a Devils victory— an image Brodeur and Krawczyk chose together.
The piece is a dream come true for Krawczyk, who as a child attended Devils games with his father. “The Devils were a way for my father and I to communicate,” he told The New York Times. “And Marty Brodeur was the big guy on campus—the No. 1 guy.”
Krawczyk, who now lives in Malibu, California, is familiar with creating sculptures for the Devils. In 2009, he created a 22-foot, 6,000-pound stainless-steel sculpture of a hockey player taking a slap shot that now stands outside of the Prudential Center.
But creating a piece of art for his favorite team’s greatest player? “It makes you work a little harder and a little better,” Krawczyk told The New York Times.
An economics major, Krawczyk studied fine art throughout Europe after graduating from Conn. His work has been featured at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Deloitte & Touche in New York City and AT&T Park, home of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.