Hartnett: Retirement Not On Brodeur’s Mind, Fire Still Burning Strong
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By Sean Hartnett
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Martin Brodeur was hung out to dry after Steve Bernier’s five-minute boarding major opened the floodgates. During that span, the Kings launched a three goal assault on the 40-year-old net-minder.
Whether or not you want to point the finger of blame at Bernier or the referees for driving the largest nail into the Devils’ elimination coffin is entirely up to you. I’m not going add any more fuel to that debate, but it should be noted that a similar incident moments earlier went unpunished when the Kings’ Jarret Stoll boarded Stephen Gionta from behind.
“It’s no one’s fault,” David Clarkson said following the Devils’ playoff exit. “There’s no fingers pointed anywhere at the refs or anybody. We dug ourselves a bit of a hole there and couldn’t come out of it.”
Either way, Brodeur was a helpless victim as the Kings smelled blood and circled his net like a pack of hungry sharks. Their goalscoring blitz continued throughout the remainder of Game 6 as the Devils continued to shoot themselves in the foot by taking undisciplined penalties.
Once the damage was done, Brodeur surrendered five goals in the Kings 6-1 series-ending, Stanley Cup-claiming rout. It was an unfitting end to a season where Brodeur inspired the Devils to many heroic victories and appeared to turn back the hands of time.
Jonathan Quick embraced Brodeur at the handshake line and told him the words the entire hockey world was thinking.
“I told him the game won’t be the same if he retires,” Quick revealed post-game. “It was an honor just playing against him at this stage.”
It felt almost like a passing of the torch when they greeted one another at center ice. At 26, Quick appears ready to ascend Brodeur’s throne as he’s surrounded by teammates capable of delivering future Stanley Cup triumphs.
“I congratulated him,” Brodeur said. “I said he deserved the honor of winning the Stanley Cup and being the goalie to win the Stanley Cup. It’s always kind of nice for young players to relate. I tried to tell him it was important to enjoy this, because you never know when you’re going to get back.”
Brodeur later crushed persistent retirement rumors as he spoke to reporters in the visiting locker room inside Staples Center.
“This season and this playoff run answered a lot of questions. Where my game is at — and I’m really happy to hopefully continue,” Brodeur explained.
“I feel real good. I was two games away (from) winning a Stanley Cup. I like the team in front of me and the system we play in. That really helps my game as far as handling the puck and doing different things.”
After suffering the blow of this unideal ending, the iconic 40-year-old just wants some time off to rest his body and take his mind off the misery of Game 6. He will be become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 should the Devils not re-sign him before that date.
“I’m not saying I’m going to go after midnight. For me this is a time I can take a little time off. I’ll be back in New Jersey in late June and I’ll figure it out then,” he said.
Brodeur expects a deal to get done before that date, but also understands Devils’ General Manager Lou Lamoriello has a list of priorities such as attempting to re-sign upcoming unrestricted free agent Zach Parise who is set to hit free agency on July 1.
“There are circumstances that are going to be out of Lou’s hands and my hands that might (complicate) that,” Brodeur mentioned.
He is not entertaining thoughts of joining any team other than the Devils, the only NHL team Brodeur’s represented since being drafted by the franchise in 1990.
“I don’t see myself at all doing that,” Brodeur said. “But, again, I think circumstances are out of my hands. You never know, I guess. I don’t want to. It will definitely have to be something really weird if I’m going to do that.”
Brodeur considers himself a Devil for life. He wants his young 11-year old daughter Annabelle Antoinette to have memories of him wearing the red, white and black Devils’ uniform.
“I want to play. I’ll talk to my little girl and see what she thinks. I’m sure she’s going to want to see me play. The Devils is what I am. It’s what I believe in. This is where I want to be,” Brodeur stated unequivocally.
The desire to represent the Devils and lead them back to the finals again are ambitions that still burn deeply within Brodeur’s soul. His experiences of facing and defeating old rivals rekindled his fire.
“We took down our two biggest rivals, the Flyers and the Rangers, and we took this series to six games,” Brodeur said. “It’s disappointing, but it’s been a great season. We came a long way to challenge for the Stanley Cup from not making the playoffs last year.”
”There’s only one team that can win. It’s not us this time, but we’re proud of what we’ve done,” he concluded.
Outside of his longtime Atlantic Division rivals, the vast majority of the hockey world will be smiling when Brodeur takes his customary place between the Devils’ pipes for at least one more season.
Allow me to use a phrase or two in French to express my glee at seeing Brodeur’s magnificent career continue forward — “Martin, vous êtes une légende. Allons-y Marty!”
How much longer can Brodeur continue to star for the Devils between the pipes? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.