After 21 magical seasons with the New Jersey Devils, future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur will spend the twilight of his career elsewhere after signing a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues.
NHL on NBC reported the news:
Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports passed along the details of Brodeur's agreement in St. Louis:
Dan Rosen of NHL.com weighed in on Brodeur's decision to join the Blue:
It has long felt as though the 42-year-old netminder would be a Devil for life, but with Cory Schneider clearly ready to take over as New Jersey's full-time goalie, the Devils could no longer allow Brodeur to cut into his playing time significantly.
In many ways, Brodeur endured a roller-coaster season. His goals against average of 2.51 was solid; however, that can be attributed to the strong defensive play in front of him. His .901 save percentage was below average, and he hasn't boasted a save percentage above .908 since 2009-10.
Despite his eroding skills, Brodeur made it clear that he wanted to play at least one more season in the NHL and was willing to go elsewhere in order to do so, per ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun:
I've come to the conclusion that I'm definitely going to be available July 1. I want to play one more season and I want to see what's out there. ... I've had a lot of good conversations with the Devils, but I'm not inclined at going back at this point. I just feel that with (Schneider) the organization has to move on. Me being around might be tough a little bit for them. I don't completely put it out of the question (returning to New Jersey), but I don't want to mess up the cards for the Devils.
Brodeur found himself in an unfamiliar situation this past season splitting time with Schneider. It is blatantly obvious that the Devils tabbed Schneider as their goalie of the future after trading for him last offseason, but he appears to be the goalie of the present as well.
Brodeur played 39 games to Schneider's 45, but the younger Schneider clearly became head coach Peter DeBoer's preferred netminder. With a 1.97 goals against average and .921 save percentage in 2013-14, it is essentially a no-brainer that the Devils need to give Schneider more playing time despite Brodeur's veteran status.
Schneider himself has voiced his desire to play more as well and has requested to play the vast majority of the games next season, according to Rich Chere of NJ.com:
Some interpreted that as a case of Schneider making demands and trying to facilitate Brodeur's departure, but he insisted that isn't the case, per Tom Gulitti of The Record:
People said I was demanding this or that. It has nothing to do with that. There have been no demands. I think just personally for me I would like the opportunity to be a starting goalie—however many games that may be, however you define a starting goalie. I would just like that opportunity. I think I've at least earned a look and if they agree then we'll go from there. ... It's something I would like to be able to do at some point.
While the 28-year-old Schneider is clearly ready to take the reins, he has the utmost respect for Brodeur.
Rather than pushing his competition out the door through the media this past season, Schneider had nothing but good things to say about Brodeur, especially when trade rumors exploding leading up to the deadline, according to Randy Miller of NJ.com:
You know, there are far worse things than having two very good goalies on the same team heading into a playoff stretch here ... He's been itching to play. I know you guys (in the media) are just doing your job, but he's had to sit here and answer questions every day about what's going to happen. He doesn't know. He's answered the questions and I'm sure he's a little tired of it.
Brodeur proved that he still had some magic left in 2011-12 when he led the Devils on a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final. Although New Jersey fell short against the Los Angeles Kings, Brodeur played superbly throughout the playoffs that season.
That doesn't mean that Brodeur is still capable of reaching that form, but it is tough to argue against taking a chance on a player with a track record as impressive as his.
With three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies to his credit, Brodeur boasts a resume that is essentially unmatched. He may not be the same goalie that he once was, but there is reason to believe that there is enough magic left for one more run.
Nobody ever believed that iconic Boston Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque would don another sweater, but he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche near the end of his career, and it resulted in a Stanley Cup triumph.
The same would be true for Brodeur in a perfect world, but fairy-tale endings don't always come to fruition in hockey.
All Brodeur wants is one last chance at glory, though, and his pursuit of it will be one of the biggest storylines of the 2014-15 season.
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