On Sunday night, TVA reporter Renaud Lavoie tweeted out something that certainly should catch the eye of every New Jersey Devils fan who's been around from 1994 through today.
#devils Martin Brodeur met with Lou Lamoriello Thursday to talk about his future with the team.
— Renaud Lavoie (@LavoieRenaud) February 9, 2014
When I first saw the Tweet, my first thought was "What future? Who's going to want Martin Brodeur? Surely, he'll retire as a Devil." And then I went back to writing something that will now be up on Saturday. Afterwards, I decided to check out the TVA Sports site - the station Lavoie works for. I learned that there are other teams that are apparently somewhat interested in the player. According to this French language article (it is a Quebec-based station), apparently the Wild and Blackhawks are possibilities.
Well. Mike wrote a fantastic post after the Stadium Series game entitled The End of Martin Brodeur. I didn't think he could to be more right than he may have thought.
Personally, I'm still not convinced other teams would want to pick up Martin Brodeur, presuming he waives his no-trade clause. He is a goaltending legend, but he's been anything but in this season. He's rocking an overall save percentage of 89.9%. His even strength save percentage is an even 90%. Considering his initial complaint was not playing - a situation he had a hand in creating - I don't see how any one of the twenty-nine other teams looks at those numbers and thinks "He's got to be our #1." None of those numbers suggest he could help out a team, much less a team with designs on trying to make the playoffs (the Wild) or trying to win it all (the Blackhawks). So this could all be smoke created by Brodeur and/or his people through a favorable French media. Nothing could very well could come from this.
At the same time, it's also a sign of the inevitable. Now is as good time as any to point it out: The end of a legend's career with New Jersey. I'm not going to insult your intelligence by listing why he should have his number retired or why he's the greatest goalie to have played in New Jersey or why he's a legend. All of that is true or will happen. However, that's almost entirely based on the past. While we all know careers eventually come to an end, it doesn't draw any less feelings when it happens. I especially feel the news considering my first year a Devils fan was the same one where Brodeur overtook Chris Terreri's job to begin his illustrious career. I'm very glad the Devils have been honest with themselves and have given the vast majority of the starts to Cory Schneider so far in 2014. I'm glad they have thrown sentimentality totally out the window. But it doesn't make it any less of a downer to know that it's all almost over for Brodeur.
Personally, I made a decision a long time ago to cheer for the jersey over the player, and especially over the man. It may be a cynical point of view, but I could care less if a player is an angel or a scumbag off the ice. I have my favorite players and there are things I would like them to do, but my support is based on what they do in their craft. The great egalitarianism of sports doesn't ask whether you have a socially acceptable opinion or how much you give to charity or how many out-of-wedlock kids you have or if you've been in fights or have an arrest record. It asks whether you can play. And if you can play, then you can play. Given the realities of free agency and, more recently, the salary cap, sticking with a team for only a player isn't likely to last forever. Just look at Scott Niedermayer, as an appropriate example. Brodeur being within the organization for over twenty years is a remarkable and rare feat, especially these days. So while I have a #30 jersey and my early Devils memories were created by #4, #27, and #30, my heart is with the Devils. I can deal with Brodeur in another jersey, as really weird and somewhat discomforting it may be to begin with.
I would prefer that Brodeur retires as a Devil and for all I know, that's exactly what the discussion was about on Thursday. But if a deal is made, then so be it. I'm not going to hold it against Brodeur to want to play elsewhere. That's his right as a player and he deserves to look out for his own interests just as I am to look out for my own. I'm not going to hold it against the team to respect his desires and get something for it - especially if it's an actual, legitimate asset.
That's still a big hypothetical, since, to put it nicely, Brodeur has not been good this season. The history is great but it means nothing in the next appearance. I'd like to think that teams looking to get to the playoffs and do something are not going to move assets for history. Then again, this is a league where a perfectly good defender just got recently traded for a fourth-liner, so I could be wrong. Even if Brodeur remains in New Jersey after March 5, I think the time is nigh for the 41-year old goalie as a Devil. I don't think it's time to say "see you later" just yet, but I suggest accepting the possibility that it could be real soon. That's where my head is at, at least.