Eastern Conference, NHL

End of An Era

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Posted: June 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm   /   by   /   comments (1)

Casey Bryant

 
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Martin Brodeur is gone and is not coming back to Newark.

 

If you’re shocked or surprised even in the slightest bit, I laugh at your naivete. This has been coming for a year now. It’s no secret that Brodeur’s relationship with management soured by the end of his tenure, namely with Pete DeBoer and Lou Lamoriello. And Cory Schneider’s arrival meant that Brodeur’s days were numbered.

 

But honestly, if I were a Devils diehard, the prospect of Marty being on another team would not sit well with me. At all.

 

Brodeur has constantly repeated that no one will remember him on another team, and it won’t take anything away from his legacy. In many ways, he is right. But in order for that to happen, Marty would have had to have kept his mouth shut and accepted his role as the aging backup mentor, accept his parting gifts at the end of the year, then gracefully and quietly show himself to the door.

 

He did not.

 

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Instead, he demanded a trade to a team that actually had a chance to make the playoffs halfway through the season (odd, considering the Devils were pretty darn close to slipping into a wild card spot). He constantly complained about his lack of playing time even though he had the worst season of his career, and Cory Schneider was statistically one of the best in the league.

 

Brodeur seems unable or unwilling to accept the fact that no team that wants to make a legitimate Stanley Cup run can afford to start him for more than 40 games in a season, which seems to be the role he wants. The three teams that have been linked to him most recently, Chicago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, all have starting goaltenders that are frankly better than Brodeur.

 

Corey Crawford on Chicago had a higher save percentage than Brodeur has had in the past six years this season. He just inked a lengthy contract extension before this past season, and played in 59 games. He might have played in more, had he not taken some time off for injury. Marty would be looking at less than 30 games a season, which he apparently does not want.

 

Minnesota has a revolving door of the oft-injured Nick Backstrom, Josh Harding, who has vowed to be healthy for training camp after putting up remarkable numbers in limited time, and the option to retain either restricted free agent Darcy Kuemper or unrestricted free agent Ilya Bryzgalov. It would make no sense to add Brodeur to the merry-go-round, when they would be better suited to go after Ryan Miller, who would definitively hold the number one job.

 

Philadelphia has Steve Mason, who signed an extension mid-season and put up the best numbers of his career since his rookie season. Believe it or not, Philly would be the most logical landing destination for both sides, since backup Ray Emery’s contract is up, Brodeur could probably play 30-40 games in the season, and Mason’s lighter workload would mean more rest and a potentially better output.

 

But, then again, it would be a sacrilege to see Brodeur in orange and black. That would be like Derek Jeter strapping on a Red Sox uniform after a spat with manager Joe Girardi.

 

Hey, you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain, right?
I realize its wrong to fault an athlete for wanting to keep playing the game he loves. It’s all he’s known for twenty years, and I firmly believe, whether you’re at the pee-wee level or you rise through the ranks to the NHL, you should make the world rip the jersey off your back. So, my critique of Mr. Brodeur is not that he’s trying to desperately cling onto his career until he’s a shell of his former self, even though that is exactly what he’s doing (COUGH Brett Favre COUGH).

 

My issue is with the way he is leaving. To me, it’s a bit unceremonious and distasteful. All the while, he has claimed that he means no disrespect to the fans. While that may not be the intention, it seems like it is a result. All season, he asked to be moved to a contender, even though many players and fans alike saw this team as one that could make a run at a wild card spot, and they very nearly did. Dedication to the cause is what endeared Jaromir Jagr to the crowd that had rooted against him for so many years. People are calling for Jagr to don the captain’s “C” now.

 

So was Brodeur the only one that didn’t see this team as a contender? In hindsight, they really weren’t, and their spot in the standings was largely due to a bad division. But at the time, that wasn’t so obvious. As a fan, I’d consider that a slap to the face, and frankly, a little selfish. Everyone else seems on board and devoted to this team, but “Mr. Devil” isn’t, even though it’s a long way from the end of the year and NJD is still in striking distance? Huh?

 

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My buddy Rob, a Devils fanatic, insists that when Marty does return to the Rock, he’ll get a standing ovation, and rightfully so. I agreed, but still found it a bit odd that Newark has to wait until he comes back in an opposing jersey to celebrate him. I contest that, had this whole melodrama of asking out, and so very nearly getting his wish at the deadline after a rumored trade was about to go through with the Wild, not been such a constant ongoing distraction, his sendoff at the end of the season would have been much grander. Instead, there was little to no fanfare other than a few extra “Marty” chants, since he decided to keep the entire franchise on the hook, never really deciding if he was staying, going, or retiring.

 

J.S. Giguere got a better sendoff at Anaheim. What sense does that make?

 

Rob asked me if, in eight years, Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t believe the Rangers have the legs to go the distance and asks out, whether I’d react the same way. I smugly responded, “He’d never do that, so I don’t have to worry. He’s above that.”

 

But in the back of my mind, I know there’s always a chance any athlete could do something like this at any point. It could happen to anyone on any team. In the sports world, athletes want two things: to win, and to get paid doing so. These trump “loyalty,” in the grand scheme of things.

 

I guess that’s why New Jersey is so forgiving of their legendary goalie, Brett Favre-like tactics and all. He’s already won in Jersey. He wants one more where he’s a key factor.

 

There’s just a more tactful way of going about that, is all.

 

  • Kiwi

    It is painstakingly clear this was poorly written by a Rags fan.