You can almost hear the words coming out of Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland’s mouth now—comments about Hall of Fame credentials, references to being a Stanley Cup champion, something about him being the best of his generation and a national hero.
Yes, it’s not too hard to imagine a scenario by which the Detroit Red Wings seek to acquire a veteran free agent looking for one last kick at the can. Indeed, this has been a tried and (not always) true strategy in Detroit for decades.
42-year-old Martin Brodeur says he wants to play one more season and will become a free agent on July 1. » http://t.co/I2rskFZrXc— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 7, 2014
In this case, the veteran free-agent may well be Martin Brodeur.
Given his pedigree, considering Brodeur as a free-agent option in goal is certainly understandable.
No goalie has won more games (801 in the regular season and playoffs) or has posted more shutouts (105) than Brodeur.
Again, this is the kind of resume that one can easily imagine Holland highlighting alongside Brodeur at a Red Wings’ press conference this summer.
After all, this has been a common scene in Detroit.
Just last summer, the Red Wings made a big splash in signing a 40-year-old Daniel Alfredsson, who, like Brodeur, had played his entire 17-year NHL career to that point with just one team—the Ottawa Senators.
Daniel Alfredsson leaves Ottawa Senators to sign with Detroit Red Wings http://t.co/CPzPRQJv81— ESPN NHL coverage (@ESPN_NHL) July 5, 2013
Though Alfredsson’s goal of winning the Stanley Cup fell short by about 15 games (not that we’re counting), he led the team in scoring with 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 68 games played.
Given his performance, there’s no question Alfredsson’s was a successful signing.
Still, one need not go too far back to find examples of Detroit engaging in high-profile veteran busts.
Indeed, in the summer of 2010, this observer accurately predicted that the Red Wings would pursue Mike Modano but would be ill-advised in doing so.
As it shook out, Modano’s time in Detroit was a rather ignoble end to the 40-year-old’s otherwise brilliant career.
A wrist injury limited him to just 40 games in the 2010-11 season in which he managed just four goals, 11 assists and a minus-four rating.
Referencing both Alfredsson and Modano not only establishes Detroit’s historical penchant for bringing in legendary names attached to 40-year-old bodies, but it proves that doing so can have wildly different outcomes.
So what about the 42-year-old Brodeur?
The Detroit Red Wings need a backup goalie and as Brodeur commented to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, that’s a role he’d consider playing with another team:
I've got to see what the opportunities are. I'm not going to go somewhere where I don't feel comfortable. If I go somewhere as a No. 2 goalie, it's going to be a team that has a really good chance to win a Stanley Cup. If I go for a No. 1 job, it's going to depend on the situation. I think there are teams that can use me.
At present, Detroit’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup are hard to handicap, but it’s safe to say the odds-makers will place several teams ahead of them at the start of the 2014-15 season. So, even if Detroit ends up pursuing Brodeur, he may not consider them an option given his stated criteria.
Nevertheless, given Detroit’s geezer-chasing history, their need for a backup goalie and Brodeur’s living-legend status, Ken Holland may find the thought of pursuing Brodeur too enticing to resist.
*All statistics courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted.