A New Era: Devils Begin Camp Sans Brodeur


As the Devils took part in their first full team workout of training camp, they saw 64 players hit the ice – minus the player that had become the face of their franchise for the past 21 years.

Martin Brodeur is still without an NHL contract, despite expressing his desire to play one more season in the league. He has made it clear that he wants a chance at a starting role, a role that no team has yet to offer.

When the Devils acquired Cory Schneider in exchange for their first-round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, it all but signaled the end was near for Brodeur, who’s skills have quickly faded since his near-impeccable run during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The 42-year-old goalie appeared in 39 games for New Jersey a season ago, posting a 19-14-6 record while recording a .907 Save Percentage and a sub-par 2.51 Goals Against Average. His counterpart, Schneider, posted a 16-15-12 record in 45 games, with a .921 Save Percentage and a  1.97 Goals Against Average – the third-best mark in the NHL.

Apr 10, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) deflects a shot in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Devils 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils this summer seemingly made the decision that Marty’s time has come to an end with the team, as they inked Schneider (pictured right) to a seven-year/$42 million contract extension, entrenching him in the starting spot for years to come. They also brought former Devil Scott Clemmensen back into the fold to compete for the back-up goaltender job with Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood.

Devils’ General Manager Lou Lamoriello has made it public that if the four-time Vezina Trophy winner does decide to hang up the skates for good, he would have a job waiting for him in Newark.

"“He knows that,” Lamoriello said in August, according to Star-Ledger reporter Rich Chere. “He knows he’ll be a Devil for the rest of his life. What Marty has done and the type of personality he is, and what his experience is, it’s a no brainer. He’s a Devil.”"

But Chere also reported that Lamoriello is unsure of Brodeur’s future intentions. “You always have to find out if former players want to work,” Lamoriello said. “They’re used to playing, that’s the bottom line. I know Marty doesn’t want to coach. I don’t know if Marty wants to work.”

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If Brodeur does indeed continue to pursue a new contract in the NHL, he may find it tough to land a regular role with any team. All 30 NHL teams have a starting goaltender, and with names such as Tim Thomas, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Tomas Vokoun still available, all of whom would most likely costs less to sign than Brodeur, teams in the market for a goaltender may be more inclined to take a chance on them rather than the nine-time all-star.

Last week, Brodeur told Canada’s Sun News Network that he would welcome a chance to play with his hometown team – the Montreal Canadiens – and possibly embrace a potential back-up role.

"“If the Canadiens made me an offer, it goes without saying that I would listen to what they have to offer me … I would definitely still want to be the number one goalie, but it wouldn’t bother me to play in only 20 to 25 games during the season if I know I’ll have fun playing within a winning team.”"

There is also speculation that as a result of Wild goalie Josh Harding suffering a foot fracture, Brodeur may receive a call from Minnesota. Nothing has yet been discussed, however.

Although a long-shot, if Brodeur was to accept a back-up role in his pursuit of 700 career victories, it would make sense for New Jersey to, at minimum, explore the possibility of bringing him on as Schneider’s backup, as Brodeur’s skills are still within the realm of a plausible NHL back-up goaltender.

No matter the end result, Brodeur will forever loom over the Devils team, as his number will be lifted to the rafters of Prudential Center as soon as he does decide to retire. But as we enter this upcoming season, the reality is beginning to sink in the Brodeur is no longer a player for the Devils, officially beginning a new era in New Jersey.

If Brodeur does play with another team this season, will he hurt his legacy with the Devils? Vote in our poll below and join the conversation in the comments section. As always, stay tuned to Pucks & Pitchforks for more Devils news and opinions.