With an extra day in between Games 5 and 6, one couldn’t totally fault Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise if they started pondering their future beyond the 2012 playoffs. After all, a first round loss to the Florida Panthers might just increase the chances of one or both cornerstone players turning the page on their days with the New Jersey Devils. Tom Gulitti reports that both are focused on the more immediate future instead.
First, let’s start with Brodeur, whose playing future is as much in question as his days in a Devils uniform.
“Career-wise, I don’t feel it’s going to be the last of it, but I think opportunity-wise, you never know,” Brodeur said. “Regardless of what the future will bring me, that’s irrelevant for me right now.”
While Brodeur is aware this might be one of his last chances – if not the last chance – Parise has more control of his situation. At 27 years old, he’ll get to experience the sensation of being courted in the unrestricted free agent market – if he chooses. Yet like Brodeur, Parise isn’t elaborating much on those thoughts.
“It’s blocked out,” Parise said. “I don’t think about it. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
Perhaps both prominent players are just providing lip service, but the Devils really could face a golden opportunity for a deep run. Favorites are dropping like flies, so if they can win the next two games, anything can happen.
It’ll be an inevitable annual question until he’s not playing in the NHL any longer: is this it for Nicklas Lidstrom? While Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said he would be “shocked” if Lidstrom hangs up his skates, the future Hall of Famer hasn’t been showing his hand. In fact, according to this Associated Press story, he might not actually know yet.
“I’m going to take a few weeks,” Lidstrom said. “I’m sure Kenny [Holland] wants to sit down and go over things as well. I’ll see what he wants to do and what timetable he’ll give me for me to make a decision.”
To some extent, he probably has a right to mull things over until the next free agent period begins on July 1. In fact, when you look at scenarios like Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne experienced in twilight years with Anaheim, one could argue that he could even wrestle with the decision a bit longer.
On the other hand, the Red Wings need to put together a plan this off-season. Tomas Holmstrom might retire as well while another key defenseman (Brad Stuart) might bolt to California for family reasons.
That being said, a lot of Detroit’s plans will probably hinge on whether they’ll have Lidstrom around or not. Babcock’s succinct quote explains why they’ll probably be willing to wait:
“He’s too good to quit,” Babcock said.
We’ve all been amazed at what Teemu Selanne has done over his career and during this season. After all, when you’re 41-years-old you shouldn’t be leading your team in scoring. You definitely shouldn’t be doing that when there’s a former MVP (Corey Perry) and a host of other young talent there.
For Orange County Register columnist Jeff Miller, he doesn’t see how Selanne can call it a career after a brilliant season, but Selanne says it all depends on how he feels.
But, before our conversation, I was certain — fairly certain — this would be his final season. Put it this way: I would have been willing to bet your paycheck on it.
Though he committed to nothing Saturday, in doing so — or not doing so, technically — he convinced me he will return.
“There’s more inside me that wants to play than retire,” Selanne admitted. “But it’s got to be 100 percent when I make the decision.”
With 62 points, Selanne is five better than Perry. He’s third on the team in goals with 23 and he’s still playing nearly 18 minutes a game. At 41!
The one hang-up here for Selanne has to be how the Ducks are built to compete. The last thing you want to do at 42-years-old is spend another season on a team that isn’t going to be a playoff threat. That said, doubting Selanne’s drive has been a mistake for anyone to do over the years.
A “one more year” chant at the Ducks’ final home game this season wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
One of the great subplots of the New Jersey Devils’ ascent back into playoff relevance is that Martin Brodeur has gotten his game back together – at least a bit.
To be honest, the Devils are probably guilty of sentimentality when it comes to their starting goalie choices. Johan Hedberg’s numbers are better across the board – far better record, superior save percentage and more shutouts in far fewer starts – but his last name isn’t “Brodeur.”
Yet as much as it seems like New Jersey’s decision making is based off of nostalgia, it’s hard for some to accept the idea that this might be Brodeur’s last season – either with the Devils or in the NHL. The future Hall of Famer is included in that group, as you can see in this Associated Press story.
“We’ll see if they’re going to take me back,” Brodeur said. “”I’m having fun. It’s been a great year so far. But I’m not 100 percent sure what I want do to yet.”
The “if they’re going to take me back” part is the key. Brodeur’s contract expires after this season, and with Zach Parise as the obvious priority to re-sign, it’s hard to fathom the legend getting anywhere near the money he’s being paid right now. With that and his declining stature in mind, the question was posed: would Brodeur play for a different team to keep it going?
Brodeur watched the Manning saga play out from afar and hoped he would never have to consider wearing another team’s sweater. How would Brodeur look in turquoise blue shoulders and black trim?
“It’s a little tricky,” Brodeur said. “The passion for the game is there. But sometimes, organizations are going to go a different way. It happened to the best quarterback in history. It could happen to anybody. It’s a possibility, but it’s unlikely, for me to really have a feeling about thinking about going somewhere else if this team still wants me around.”
Parise’s decision is the most pivotal for the Devils franchise this off-season, but one could argue that Brodeur’s future is just as fascinating – and maybe even more up in the air.
PHT’s own Joe Yerdon has become known for spearheading the “#TeemuForever” campaign, but he’s far from the only person hoping that Teemu Selanne sticks around as long as possible. Fellow famous Finn Jari Kurri had a simple message that relayed to Jeff Miller of the OC Register: “Why stop now?”
“I’m hoping he keeps playing,” Kurri said. “Why stop? I know he wants to win. He wants to do well and he’s playing well. I don’t see any reason for him to stop.”
Selanne scored his 23rd goal of the season as the Anaheim Ducks currently hold a 3-0 lead against the Detroit Red Wings. That tally places him at a tidy 1,400 points, just nine shy of Dale Hawerchuk for 18th all-time. In fact, as PHT discussed earlier this week, Selanne is breathing down the necks of many greats – which would make another campaign that much more compelling.
Here are the players he’s within shouting distance of, points-wise:
14. Stan Mikita (1,467)
15. Bryan Trottier (1,425)
16. Adam Oates (1,420)
17. Doug Gilmour (1,414)
18. Dale Hawerchuk (1,409)
19. Selanne (1,400)
20. Kurri (1,398)
And from a goal-scoring standpoint:
7. Mark Messier – 694 goals
8. Steve Yzerman – 692
9. Mario Lemieux – 690
10. Luc Robitaille – 668
11. Jaromir Jagr – 664
12. Selanne – 660
Selanne could jump into the top 10 in goal-scoring (Jagr or not) and the top 15 in point scoring if he came back for one more year.
If thousands (if not millions) of fans aren’t enough to convince him, what about his idol?
(Hey, it’s worth a shot.)