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Is this Martin Brodeur’s final season?

Sep 16, 2011, 10:34 PM EDT

Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

Asking the question “is this Marty Brodeur’s final year?” isn’t something most Devils fans want to even think about. But that doesn’t mean the netminder hasn’t been thinking about it himself. The truth is that Brodeur has been saying for a while that he was going to play out his current contract and make a decision on his future after the deal expired. Newsflash: that six-year deal that he signed before the 2006-07 deal only has a single year on it. It’s time for the Devils faithful to face that uncomfortable reality—the Brodeur era in New Jersey is eventually going to end.

By no means has Brodeur announced anything specifically about his future plans. He has, however, publically acknowledged that retirement is something he considers nowadays. On the first day of training camp for the Devils, Brodeur spoke to Tom Gulitti of the Fire and Ice blog about his future:

“It’s been a few years that I know it’s going to happen eventually. Now, it’s the last year of the contract, so we’ll see. But it doesn’t change my approach at all mentally about anything. You just go through it and you have different feelings about different things and I’m looking forward to playing and having fun this year and we’ll see.”

(snip)

“Whenever I’m going to be ready to make a decision, I’ll make a decision,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be now. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be in the middle of the season. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be at the end. I’ll listen to everything, but it’s going to be what I’m at peace with when the time comes. I could be the one asking them. Who knows? I’ll see how the season is going to go and how I’m going to feel and how everything pans out.”

Apparently, Brodeur has already started doing his due diligence on the retirement front. Over and over, we hear about guys who voluntarily step away from the game—only to miss the competition and camaraderie once they’re on the outside looking in. Brodeur revealed that he’s asking around make sure he isn’t in the same boat when he finally retires.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys that retired just to see how it feels because I know I’m coming close to it, so I want to make sure I make the right decision and won’t regret it either,” he explained. “I don’t want to jump the gun too quick then regret it a year [later].”

It’s no secret that last season was a struggle for the New Jersey Devils and the legendary netminder was no exception. His 2.45 goals against average as 14th in the league; but his mediocre .903 save percentage was 35th in the NHL. Those aren’t the type of numbers that people have come to expect in Newark and it’s certainly not what people expect from a goaltender that is playing on a $31.5 million contract.

Here’s the part of the situation that has the potential to get messy. What if Brodeur decides that he wants to come back for another year even though his game continues to slip this season? There’s no way his numbers last season warranted a $5.3 million cap hit. But after all Brodeur has given to the organization, would they be obligated to keep him around as long as he wants to play? After all, it’s not like the Devils have a budding superstar waiting for his chance.

That’s a question Lou Lamoriello and the Devils won’t have to worry about for at least seven more months. Who knows? Maybe Brodeur will make the decision for them.

  1. stakex - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    As a Rangers fan, let me say what very few Devils fans are willing to:. The Devils will not be a winning team again until Brodeur retires. Sure he was at a time the best goalie in the NHL, but over the last 4 years his numbers have really begun to slide. Last year was a great example. Yes, the Devils were an all around bad team last year, but the old (actually, young) Brodeur likely would have AT LEAST helped make their season look somewhat respectable. Instead he played ugly for most of the year and only helped the Devils on their plunge into the basement.

    Will he play again? Not if he has another bad year… which seems likely given his play the past few years. I can’t see Brodeur wanting to play again if his game is clearly in a state of decline. Should he have a decent year, I would expect him to give it another shot. At which point as this article points out, the Devils owners would be in a bit of an odd spot. Id have to imagine Brodeur can stay in NJ as long as he wants given what hes done for the team over the years. That however, isn’t very fair to the fans since the owners have a responsibility to built the best team possible… and there are a lot of other goalies out there currently better then Martin Brodeur.

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