While there’s an exodus of players heading to Europe because of the stalemate between the NHL & NHLPA, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur isn’t getting off his lazy boy just yet. Since the current CBA expired on September 15, I would not consider “progress” as a choice word to use for the two sides to try and resolve this matter. While owners are crying poor and claiming they aren’t getting enough of the pie, the players seem to be content on not giving in.
After the 2011-12 NHL season came to close, the Devils fan population was in shock and awe that Martin Brodeur decided to hire a player agent and test the free agency market. While this stomach ache didn’t last very long, it sure got brains racing around the Garden State wondering, will Martin Brodeur end his Hall of Fame career in another sweater? Thank god, he did not. He didn’t want a lockout to end his career or go deal with the publicity and media deflecting retirement questions.
“At the end of the day, that was foremost the first reason why Lou and I didn’t agree on a one-year deal, because I kept telling him that I needed a guarantee I would play hockey. At my age, if I go through a whole lockout without a contract, it would have been tough for me to sign for value I thought I was worth. So I debated with Lou a long time. It took more time than I thought it would. But they came around with it. For me, both mentally and physically, it was the most important thing to get that extra year. Because my experience is that when people talk lockout, it usually happens. That’s the feeling that I had. The second year was a safety valve for me,” Marty continued.
He’s been through this before. The NHL lost the majority of his first full time rookie season when the Devils won their first cup and back in 2004-2005 when the NHL shut down completely. While not many teams have interest in signing an over the hill athlete, Marty was sought out by a few teams but had the loyalty of the front office to keep him in a Devils sweater and finish his Hall of Fame career where it started, in New Jersey. After a couple “off” seasons, Brodeur bounced back with 31 wins, .908 SV%, 2.41 GAA and leading his club to the Stanley Cup Finals with 14 wins where he was clearly the reason the Devils made it that far.
Everyone wants security in their future and athletes are no different. If he did not resign with the Devils and only signed a one-year deal elsewhere, what motivation is there to train and prepare for a new season when theirs whispers of not having one?
“I’m going to wait it out until October, when they’re going to start slashing games, and try to have a sense of where it’s going. I know I’m closing doors in Europe now because I’m going to wait a little bit, but I’d like to go somewhere by November if I can get an opportunity somewhere. Right now, I have no intention of going because while there’s still lines of communication (between NHL & NHLPA) it’s still a positive thing” Marty said.
I laugh when I hear the word communication because it’s an absolute joke how the NHL and Gary Bettman said at a live press conference they were willing to meet anytime anywhere and in the 11th hour when players wanted a meeting before CBA expiration, the league and owners denied that request. For the fans sake and the integrity of the game after an amazing season, I hope a deal is done much sooner than later which is the understatement of the century.
I’m just ecstatic that I get to see the goaltender I grew up watching, end his career in the state I grew up in. Martin Brodeur has been the face of our franchise in the shadow of a franchise that missed the boat on marketing his accolades to make hockey stronger in NJ. But with the help of some diehard fans and a loyal following, the Devils have been able to achieve great success in their 30-year history.