There has been a lot of chatter lately about Martin Brodeur and what the Devils should do with him as he nears the end of his illustrious career. There are quite a few things I could say to those who think he should be traded or forced into retirement, but I will reserve those statements for another time.
As the Devils continue their drive to return to the playoffs this season, the approach to goaltending has been different than it was in recent years. Over his 19 seasons with the Devils, Brodeur has started fewer than 67 games just five times in that span. One season was due to injury in 2008-09, so that can be thrown out in terms of this discussion.
Another instance was in 1991-92 where Brodeur started four games while he grew up in the Devils' farm system, so that one is out as well.
Finally, in 1994-95, the season was shortened due to a lockout.
Now, for the 1993-94 season, which was officially Brodeur's rookie season. Marty split time with Chris Terreri. This was also the season in which Marty won the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie and he only started 47 games.
He posted a 2.40 goals against average, a .915 save percentage and helped the Devils to the Eastern Conference Finals before they were ousted in Game 7 by the Rangers (I can still hear the announcer shouting, "Matteau! Matteau!" and it makes me sick).
Flash forward to the current season and we find Brodeur in a similar situation with Johan Hedberg. The journeyman and perennial back up has proven to be a solid second option when called upon, and so far this season is outperforming Brodeur statistically in almost every category.
Many have made the argument that after 18 loyal and dedicated seasons in New Jersey, that the Devils should take a businessman's perspective on things and deal Brodeur while he still has some value in order to prepare for the future.
On Tuesday night, the Devils will face off against their rivals from across the river, the New York Rangers. New Jersey is gaining some real ground in the Eastern Conference, but if they want some help making a goaltending decision, they should look no further than toward the other bench.
The Rangers acquired Martin Biron, a similar journeyman goaltender to Hedberg. Biron started his career in Buffalo under a similar situation with current Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller. Long story short: Biron got the boot and Miller has become a star. In terms of experience though, the Rangers got a good deal on Biron to help ease the workload for their number one, Henrik Lundqvist.
So far, the results have been somewhat similar. Biron is 6-1-0 in his seven starts and has a goals against average of 1.82. Right now, Biron is statistically better than Lundqvist, who posts a 2.07 goals against, but the two are finding ways to feed off of one another, which is why those numbers are so low.
The Devils are utilizing the two goalie system successfully right now and it could help them when it comes time for the playoffs. Brodeur and Hedberg are both keeping it together and the team is on an upswing. If they can each improve their individual play, the Devils will be able to continue gathering speed in the Eastern Conference.
Martin Brodeur's status is legendary. He is a record setting goaltender that has dedicated his life to his craft. With so many extraordinary seasons under his belt, it is only a matter of time before the gas tank runs on empty and his jersey is hanging from the rafters. However, now is not that time and shame on those who think it right to get rid of him after such a loyal career.
I think he deserves loyalty in return from his fans.
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