In a January interview on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast featuring Jeff Marek of Sports Net and Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports (Puck Daddy), ex Devils goalie Kevin Weekes discussed his feelings on current Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. He said,
"I think one of the biggest challenges for him was he didn't want to adapt his style and like anything else, you know, nothing waits for you. You always have to continue to evolve ... I think the challenge with Marty is, when I played with him, he was always adamant about ‘no I'm going to use these pads, no I'm going to use these gloves. It doesn't matter if I use smaller equipment, it's a big advantage for me,' he looked at it as a big advantage for him."
He then went on to note that it is important for goalies to maximize the size of their equipment and to use the NHL goalie equipment size rules to their advantage. He also discusses the importance of the butterfly style in the game today, but notes that it is tough to argue with a great like Brodeur when he fights changing his style to fit into the modern game. How can you expect arguably the best goalie of all time to change when he's had so much success with what he's always been doing? But in the last few years it seemed as though Brodeur wasn't playing like his old self, according to Kevin. Weekes' final conclusion was that he feels Brodeur would have more success now if he had adapted his style and equipment along with the evolution of hockey. Since he is still an extremely athletic individual, he would be able to keep up easier as the game changes.
Fast forward to the 2012 All Star break. Goalie Martin Brodeur got new equipment and when the regular season resumed his stats went up considerably. He added about an inch in each direction to his leg guards, going from 36" to 37" high and 9 ½" to 10 ½" wide (11" is the maximum). Brodeur told Rich Chere of the Star Ledger,
"For me, I think it protects a little more the five hole, When I go down on the butterfly there's a little more pad there then I used to have. I always played with my pads wider at the bottom and tapered at the top like goalies did in the 1990s... Now I'm more in line with what other goalies wear around the league. I just wanted to see if I was able to play with something a little bigger and cover a little more net. It feels pretty good."
After taking a game or two to get used to the new pads, Brodeur started feeling much more comfortable and went on a 4-0-1 streak. Brodeur didn't want to accredit his success to the new pads, but he said it definitely didn't hurt. It seemed that after the break, Brodeur returned to his old self and was putting up much better numbers. His goals against average improved along with his save percentage. Before the All Star Break Brodeur saw action in 29 games. His W% was .483, while his GAA was 2.69 with a SV% of .894. After the break his W% rose to .611 and his GAA was 1.94 with a SV% of .925 after playing 18 games. He also had a shutout against the Rangers, which is always a good thing. And he never seemed to go back to the "pre-All Star Break Brodeur," either. The Devils got hot after the All Star Break and it carried them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. The team went 22-9-3 during the second half of the regular season.
Going back to the interview with Kevin Weekes, Greg Wyshynski - a noted Devils fan, said he thought Marty should hang up the pads after the season. This was before Brodeur got his new equipment and before the Devils miraculous run to the Stanley Cup Finals, so his opinion may have changed since then - but he was not alone with this thinking. Many fans were calling for Marty to hang up his pads and call it a career. After he got his larger pads, he returned to old form. Is this all one big happy coincidence or do you think changing his equipment is what brought so much success to Brodeur and the Devils after the All Star Break?