NHL Playoffs 2012: Why Game 7 May Be Martin Brodeur's Last

Steven Slivka@@StevenSlivkaCorrespondent IIIApril 25, 2012

Martin Brodeur has been the face of New Jersey for the last two decades.
Martin Brodeur has been the face of New Jersey for the last two decades.Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The end of a career for any illustrious player is always bittersweet.

For those who grew up watching them, idolizing their every move for the sake of being able to emulate them in any way, seeing them finally call it quits is something dedicated fans have a hard time dealing with.

Martin Brodeur, the heart and sole of the New Jersey Devils franchise, is writing the final chapter of one of the best NHL novels ever written.

The Devils will face the Florida Panthers in Game 7 which could possibly be the end of Brodeur's long, successful career.

Brodeur has played in 1,191 regular season games, holds the record for wins with 656, has a lifetime save percentage of .913 and has won three Stanley Cups—thus having arguably the most successful career in goaltending history.

The Devils are one game away from being shipped out of the first round, and although Brodeur's postseason play has been shaky thus far, he still seems to have the fire deep down inside his 39-year-old belly.

The question is: Will he call it quits after this season?

If New Jersey gets bounced in the first round, retirement has to be running through Brodeur's mind. He has accomplished everything a goalie could ever accomplish.

He's the youngest goalie to reach 300, 400 and 500 wins and he's won two gold medals for his native Canada in the Olympics.

Saves, minutes played, you name it. Chances are he holds the record.

Watching Brett Favre retire, then unretire, then seeing him play with two different teams in the midst of him going through a scandal was one of the most difficult things a sports fan has ever had to see.

Brodeur is the exact opposite.

He told the New York Post he's leaning more towards coming back next season, but only for New Jersey.

How fitting that a goaltender who holds pretty much every record at his position will eventually retire with the same team he played 20 years for.

It would not be surprising to see Brodeur hang up the pads after this season. His elbow surgery in 2008 put him on the shelf for several months, limiting him to only 31 starts for the 2008-09 season.

His body isn't getting any younger.

Everybody in America saw the Colts self-destruct after Peyton Manning was lost for the entire season.

With Brodeur turning 40 in two weeks, the Devils have to think about the future of their franchise without upsetting their star goaltender.

After all, the guy can still play. His 31 wins this season were fifth-best in the NHL and after New Jersey blanked Florida 4-0 in Game 4, Brodeur passed Patrick Roy for the most shutouts in postseason history.

There is nothing left for Brodeur to do, except continue to play the game he loves so much and plays so extremely well.

The Devils realize that Brodeur is near the end of his career. The clock is ticking biologically for Brodeur, and financially for New Jersey.