Legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur still plays the waiting game
FILE - This June 24, 1995 file photo shows New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur smoking a cigar while talking to reporters after the Devils defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, to win the championship, in East Rutherford, N.J. Seventeen years after making his Stanley Cup Finals debut for New Jersey in a win over the Red Wings, Brodeur, 40, has led this proud franchise back to title round. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm, File)
New Jersey Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur makes a save as New York Rangers' Alexei Kovalev (27) skates in on goal during the first period, Monday night, May 23, 1994 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Brodeur stopped 25 of 26 shots on goal as the Devils beat the Rangers 4-1 to lead the Eastern Conference final series 3-2. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New York Rangers? Stephane Matteau (32) scrambles for a loose puck in front of New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur and Scott Niedermayer (27) on Thursday, May 19, 1994 in game three of the Eastern Conference finals at Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Matteau sent the puck into net to give the Rangers a 3-2 win in double overtime and a 2-1 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
Detroit Red Wings' Bob Errey (21) is roughed up in front of the net by New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur(30) in the first period of game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. (AP Photo/ Ron Frehm)
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur gets knocked down in the crease by Boston Bruins' Glen Murray during first period NHL playoff action at the Boston Garden, Sunday, May 7, 1995. Brodeur shutout the Bruins, 5-0 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
New York Rangers' Wayne Gretzky (99) goes after a loose puck as New Jersey Devils' goalie Martin Brodeaur makes a save during the second period Monday Feb. 17, 1997 in New York. Brodeur made 30 saves in the 2-2 tie, extending his unbeaten streak to 12 games and the Devils' to 11, the longest in team history. Gretzky's goal-scoring drought reached 20 games, the longest in his career, but he assited on both Rangers goals. At left is Devil's Jason Smith.(AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur makes a save against the New York Rangers during the first period Wednesday night, Dec. 16, 1998, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Devils won 6-3. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur drops to the ice and lifts his glove to make a save on a shot during the third period against the Boston Bruins in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 28, 1999. Brodeur, who stopped all 40 shots he faced, helped the Devils beat the Bruins 2-0. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur holds up the Stanley Cup during a celebration in the arena parking lot Saturday , June 14, 2003, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Devils beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to win the cup. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, right, sticks aside the puck as Florida Panthers' Mark Parrish skates in during the first period Sunday night, April 16, 2000, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Devils won 2-1 and lead the Eastern Conference best-of-seven quarterfinal series 2-0. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur smiles after practice Wednesday, June 6, 2001, in East Rutherford , N.J. The Devils lead the Colorado Avalanche three games to two for the Stanley Cup. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
The puck gets by New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur for a goal by Colorado Avalanche winger Alex Tanguay during the second period of the final game of the Stanley Cup in Denver on Saturday, June 9, 2001. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, right, and Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Cole (26) mix it up in the goal crease during the first period Saturday, Oct. 19, 2002, at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.(AP Photo/Bob Jordan)
New Jersey Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur makes a save during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night, Nov. 19, 2002, in East Rutherford, N.J. The devils won, 4-3, in overtime. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) makes a save against the Minnesota Wild during the third period Saturday, Jan. 26, 2002, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild's Pascal Dupuis, center, and New Jersey's Tommy Albelin (6) of Sweden look on. The teams tied 2-2. (AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)
Canada's goalie Martin Brodeur looks at the puck bounce back out after a goal by Belarus' Ruslan Salei during the second period of their semifinals match in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Friday, Feb. 22, 2002 in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, right, is run into by Philadelphia Flyers' Donald Brashear during the second period of a first round NHL playoff game Monday night, April 12, 2004, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Devils won 4-2. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
** THIS CORRECTS THE SPELLING OF ST. PAUL ** FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH YEAR-END STORIES -- FILE -- ** Eastern Conference goalie Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils dives to save a shot as teammate Pavel Kubina (23) of the Tampa Bay Lightning watches during the second period of the NHL All-Star game in St. Paul, Minn., in this February 8, 2004 photo. (AP Photo/Pool,Dave Sandford)
** FOR USE AS DESIRED WITH VANCOUVER OLYMPICS PREVIEW STORIES ** FILE - In this April 30, 2005, file photo, Team Canada's goaltender Martin Brodeur gloves the puck inside the goal on a controversial goal by Latvia's Girts Ankipans during second period action at the IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.Winter sports are a passion in the Great White North. But for many of Canada's 33 million residents, hockey is the only game that matters, the only sport in which a gold medal absolutely, positively must be won for the Vancouver Olympics to be considered a success in the country that invented the game. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) clears the puck from the face-off circle as the Philadelphia Flyers' Simon Gagne (12), chases during overtime as the Flyers defeated the Devils 3-2 in an NHL hockey game at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) reacts in the third period during Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals against the Los Angeles Kings, Wednesday, June 6, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
New Jersey Devils' Jaromir Jagr, right, of the Czech Republic, celebrates with goaltender Martin Brodeur after the Devils defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3, in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Martin Brodeur had the chance to retire in glory as an iconic one-franchise player. Having led the Devils to three Stanley Cup championships and with nearly every career regular season goaltending record attached to his name, Brodeur has nothing left to prove.
The best way for Brodeur to have closed his glorious career would have been announcing his retirement prior to last season's April 13 season finale. He would have departed in a fashion befitting his splendiferous résumé. The NHL as a whole would have embraced the final weeks of Brodeur's career. He would have departed with dignity, and symbolically passed the torch to Cory Schneider.
Following the April 13 season finale at Prudential Center, Devils teammates urged Brodeur to salute the fans at center ice. Brodeur raised his stick to the air to rapturous applause. Devils fans were ready to say goodbye, but Brodeur wasn't.
Now, the winningest goalie of all-time appears content playing the waiting game. Brodeur recently told Pierre Durocher Le Journal Montreal that teams have already reached out to him, but none of the offers were "interesting" enough for him to sign.
"Teams have shown interest in my services at the beginning of July, but these destinations were not interesting to me," Brodeur told Le Journal. "I want to be part of a team that has a real chance to win the Stanley Cup. It is certain that I would still act as a number 1 keeper, but it does not bother me to participate in only 20-25 games during the season if I know I'll have fun playing within a winning team."
How out of place did a returning Michael Jordan look in a Washington Wizards jersey? Wasn't it strange when Joe Namath finished his career in the uniform of the Los Angeles Rams?
What's Brodeur's main motivation?
"I want to be part of a team that has a real chance to win the Stanley Cup," he told Le Journal.
This isn't Ray Bourque leaving the Bruins in a search an elusive career-fulfilling Stanley Cup. What Brodeur is doing is desperately hanging on to a game that's clearly passed him by.
Waiting with your fingers crossed for a starting goaltender to get injured should be a strong enough signal for Brodeur to understand that it's time he hang up his equipment and call it a day.
Three Stanley Cups, most regular season and playoff shutouts and an NHL record 688 regular season wins with a single franchise – it's been a glorious ride for Brodeur and a ride that should have ended in New Jersey.
WHY WOULD ANY TEAM WANT A DECLINING BRODEUR?
Last season, Brodeur recorded a .901 save percentage and 2.52 goals-against average. These aren't attractive numbers. Present day Brodeur is slightly below a replacement-level goalie.
Despite losing a heartbreaking 12 of 12 shootouts last season, the Devils would have been better served relegating Brodeur to bench duty earlier in the season. Brodeur played 39 games last season. Switching to Schneider on a full-time basis would have likely made the difference in New Jersey making the playoffs. The Devils finished three points behind the Wild Card-clinching Blue Jackets and Red Wings.
At the advanced age of 42, there isn't any reason to believe that Brodeur is capable of resurgence in the twilight of his career. You would have to look back to 2008-09 as the last season that Brodeur played like an elite goaltender. Brodeur went 45-25-6 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.
Why would any team want to have a sub-replacement level Brodeur on their team? Any team looking to bring in Brodeur in a tandem situation would place intense pressure on a younger goalie who might be the long-term solution between the pipes.
Perhaps, NHL general managers will do Brodeur a favor by saving him from himself. No one wants to see Brodeur leaking in goals as a frustrated backup in an unfamiliar jersey. It's clear that Brodeur doesn't want to play for a non-competitive franchise. As long as a contending team's no. 1 goalie doesn't suffer a long-term injury, Brodeur will have no choice but to retire as a free agent and a career Devil by default.