In one fell swoop, the New Jersey Devils' playoff hopes have vanished. Martin Brodeur, originally diagnosed with a bruised elbow, actually has a torn bicep tendon that will require surgery.
He will miss three to four months. This sucks for hockey, and it sucks a hell of a lot worse for the Devils.
Brodeur was on the verge of breaking two huge records (career wins and shutouts) that could have drawn a little attention to the league. It's always nice to have a good story to follow, and now that story has been put on hold for a while.
Obviously, this is a bigger blow to the Devils than the league. The Devils have a decent team without Marty: Zach Parise has been superb, Dainius Zubrus has played well, Brian Rolston should help out when he gets back, and Paul Martin and Bryce Salvador are solid defensemen.
But the real driving force on this team, the guy that guarantees them a playoff berth, is the man between the pipes, and the Devils now face life without him.
Kevin Weekes is the starter of the moment, and he looked very good in both of his games so far, against Atlanta and Buffalo. But there's a reason he's the backup: he won't be this good forever.
Weekes is a very good backup for sure, and a nice option. However, he's not Martin Brodeur, and won't be able to carry this team.
The Devils could pursue a trade, perhaps for Manny Fernandez or Tim Thomas from Boston. Nikolai Khabibulin of Chicago is another option. Either way, like Weekes, these guys won't be able to fill in for Brodeur.
There are many different reactions running through my head right now. One is to punt the season: trade expiring contracts like Brian Gionta's, and prepare for next year.
Another is that Marty should never have changed his mask. Yet a third is barking that we should not have called for Marty to get more rest, because we just got exactly what we wished for.
But there's nothing we can do now except cross our fingers and pray. Maybe the Devils will trade for a shutdown defenseman to help Weekes out, and maybe Marty progresses well (the man is a warrior, you know).
There's also the possiblity that perhaps a refreshed Martin Brodeur can carry a team that barely squeaks into the playoffs. Despite my first reaction, I don't think the team can quit yet, and they have to play through this.