End of an Era: Martin Brodeur and the Devils Part Ways

The New Jersey Devils have had #30 between the pipes for the better part of two decades. Martin Brodeur won three Stanley Cups for the Devils, while amassing four Vezina Trophies as the league’s top goalie in the process.

With the recent signings of goaltenders Cory Schneider and former back up Scott Clemmensen, the end of Brodeur’s tenure in New Jersey is imminent. The Devils re-signed Schneider to a multi-year contract (reportedly a seven-year, $42 million deal) which solidifies him as the clear No. 1 goalie in Devil-land. He has very large skates to fill as he replaces a legend; “a challenge that he seemed more than equal to last season as he took the majority of reps while Brodeur played second fiddle for the first time in twenty years,’’ according to CBSSports Hockey Writer Chris Peters, July 2014.

Schneider had 16 wins and 15 losses in 45 games, playing on a very bad and aging Devils squad. What numbers really stand out are his sparkling 1.97 GAA and .921 SV%. If he can maintain these numbers over the term of his contract, as the Devils become younger and faster around him, there is a strong formula for success here.

The true writing on the wall may have been dated back to when Devils GM Lou Lamoriello traded for Schneider in the 2013 Draft. Schneider was the odd man out in Vancouver when Roberto Luongo decided to find his game again and create a turbulent carousel for the Canucks (ironically, now both goaltenders are donning other teams’ sweaters). Lamoriello brought the once Canuck starter to New Jersey because he took note of what no one in the organization wanted to admit: Brodeur’s numbers have been on the decline over the last four seasons, causing rumblings and banter that the 42-year-old should have called it quits while he was on top.

His rebound season of 2009-10 should have been his last, but he’s certainly a proud man and feels a retirement may still be premature. The fire is still there to play for one more contender. The man does boast the most regular season wins with 688, regular season shutouts with 124, and career saves with an eye-gouging 28,508! However, as we see below, a majority of that high production came from his rookie season in 1991-92 through the 2009-10 season.

Martin Brodeur Regular Season Stats

Martin Brodeur 91-92/2009-10 2010-11/2013-14
Record 602-324 86-70
SV% 0.913 0.903
GAA 2.21 2.41
SO 110 14

It will be hard to imagine Brodeur playing second fiddle again if he chooses to sign on with another team. Well, save Florida, meet your new starting goaltender! One possibility looms… the Montreal Canadiens. To finish his career in front of his hometown fans as back up to Carey Price could serve as a nice swan song to a storied career.  However, with both Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski already behind Price, and Joey MacDonald looking like he will be the starting goalie for the Montreal’s AHL Affiliate, (the Hamilton Bulldogs), there may not be room for Brodeur in a crowded Montreal crease.

Maybe, he will take a shot with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs to serve as mentor-by-example for young Jonathan Bernier. Only time will tell but, at this point, Brodeur is mulling over his options as he participates in the American Century Championship golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

Brodeur has said that he is fairly sure a resolution will not come till this fall. If he does decide to hang ‘em up after 20-plus seasons in the NHL, the Devils would almost certainly give him employment within the organization. He sees himself as more of a suit than behind the bench as a goalie coach. “It’s more in the office kind of job,” said Brodeur. “I’ve been doing this, the day-to-day operation as far as playing the game, for a long time, and I don’t know if I want to get back in coaching. It will be something different than coaching; but again, I don’t close any doors on anything that Lou would approach me [with] in the future’ (Yahoo! Sports, July 2014).

Currently, neither Brodeur nor his agent has received any calls from the other twenty-nine teams.

As a Flyers fan, I have to say I’m not too disappointed if this man walks away to another team or from the NHL all-together. He has been responsible for so many heart-wrenching moments that at this point I’ve lost count. All in all, Brodeur does demand respect and admiration. This first ballot Hall of Famer will go down amongst the best goaltenders in NHL history.

 

Main Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images