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.
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.
There was already an instinct to stick a fork in the Minnesota Wild’s playoff hopes upon hearing that Mikko Koivu will miss at least two more weeks, but now their other big-money cornerstone might be on the shelf.
Pricey No. 1 starter Niklas Backstrom needed help getting off the ice after injuring himself while making a save in tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Obviously it’s early in the process, but various testimonies seemed rather negative.
Ultimately it’s really only good news for one person: backup goalie Josh Harding. The pending unrestricted free agent has a lot to gain if he plays well – especially if this ailment sidelines Backstrom for a lengthy amount of time.