The end of an era may be coming for the New Jersey Devils. This coming offseason, Martin Brodeur is set to become a free agent. The 39-year-old has expressed interest in staying in the league for at least next season, and, as I've said in the past, it may not be in the Devils' best interest to re-sign him.
Is it possible Martin Brodeur could end up in a Peyton Manning-esque situation? There are certainly similarities between the two: Both would be/are being left behind by the only franchises they've ever known. Over their illustrious careers, both have been the definition of consistent, turning their teams into perennial playoff threats. Both have also won at least one championship for their respective teams.
And while the quarterback is a very different position from goaltender—one is the ringleader of the offense, the other is the defense's last resort—both are instrumental to their teams in a way no other position can be. A QB in the zone or a hot goalie in net is capable of winning a game, or multiple games for a team. Likewise, a football team without a good quarterback is going to be as successful as a team with a sieve for a goalie.
But there are too many differences between the two situations to really compare them. It does lead one to wonder though, where will Brodeur find himself at season's end?
An important note, first: I have no insider news to relay. I am simply taking what information is out there, and seeing where it leads.
Well to start, the most obvious difference between the Colts and Devils is backups. The Colts cut ties sitting comfortably with the knowledge that they have a highly-touted prospect waiting for them in the draft.
The Devils do not have an Andrew Luck. The reason the Devils have continued to lean on Brodeur into his late 30s is that they haven't found a suitable replacement. Prospects haven't yet panned out, and it never made sense to try to bring in another No. 1 goalie.
When Brodeur does hit free agency, the Devils will likely be more than happy to have him back, assuming he's reasonable salary-wise—and there's no reason yet to think he won't be. But for a man who's won three Stanley Cups, four Vezinas and enjoyed years on one of the NHL's elite teams, what more could he want from his career?
The simplest answer is that he just wants to keep playing while he can. That seems to be the message he's sent so far, and if that's the case, he'd have the Devils as an option.
But something else is possible too: the one obvious thing that's missing would be playing for his childhood-favorite Montreal Canadiens.
Marty grew up in Quebec, where his father worked as a photographer for the Canadiens. It's no secret that Marty loves playing against the Canadiens, especially in Montreal, where family and friends can watch him live.
It's unclear if the Canadiens would want him. On the one hand, it would be a great PR move, bringing home one of the greatest goalies ever to skate in front of his hometown fans. I think a great deal of Canadiens fans would embrace him, and he could start the games Carey Price doesn't—probably around a dozen or so.
On the other hand, Carey Price is their goalie of the future, and it seems unlikely that Brodeur would come back just to play a dozen games. It's also unlikely that both goalies would be happy with their workload, while also achieving what's best for the team.
Seemingly, the only way that Brodeur would end up fielding multiple offers from teams league-wide would be if he agreed to take on a mentor-type role as a backup, or the starting job for a desperate team.
More realistically, when he finds himself an unsigned player, the Devils will likely be clamoring to have him back—though what role he'd play depends heavily on whether the Devils have any other goalie prospects.
If he chooses to leave New Jersey, he'd assuredly have an offer waiting from Montreal, but there wouldn't be the Manning frenzy to secure his talents. Moving forward in his career, Marty's presence on a team will be much more important than his presence on the ice.
It will be interesting to see how he handles the situation, but there's no reason to suspect surprises will spring up. Marty's always been a humble, traditional, affable guy, and he'll likely handle the situation as quickly and quietly as he can.
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