Sarge: The Devils Win In Shootout

January 29, 2015 - New York Sports Day - View Full Article

Jacob Josefson scores the deciding goal in the shootout as the Devils improve to 3-1-0 over their last four games.

 




Should Martin Brodeur have been the Devils' backup goalie this season?

January 29, 2015 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Might he have reached the 700-win mark? Watch video

NEWARK — Do not underestimate what 700 victories would have meant to Martin Brodeur. It was a number he passionately wanted to reach.

So as Brodeur leaves the game nine wins short of that mark, many have asked why he wasn't afforded the chance to spend this season with the Devils as Cory Schneider's backup. Couldn't he have handled that role and gotten enough playing time to get the 12 wins he needed as he entered this season with 688?

"If the plan was to play me 'x' amount of games, maybe he felt it didn't leave enough games for him and he wanted an opportunity elsewhere where he would play more," Schneider told NJ Advance Media. "He was gracious in handing the net to me and letting me grow as a player. That's not lost on me at all.

"We don't really know how things would have played out and if it would have worked here or not. It's tough being nine wins away, but 691 is still a pretty nice number."

Dainius Zubrus feels Brodeur still had enough left as a player to adequately handle the role as backup. In his seven games with the St. Louis Blues, Brodeur went 3-3-0 with one shutout. And that came after sitting out the first two months of the season waiting for an opportunity.

"It would have been nice to see him here. I think he could still be playing. I think he showed that in those games he did play. He did fairly well," Zubrus said. "But it's not easy right now to find a spot. Organizations want to play their young guys to give them a chance."

In the Devils' case, that is Keith Kinkaid, who has shown signs of being a quality NHL goaltender in his nine appearances this season.

Let's face it. The biggest issue would have been whether Brodeur's presence would have interfered with Schneider's development as the Devils' undisputed No. 1.

There was some friction at various points last season when Brodeur didn't start a few games he felt he was entitled to play. Even if the future Hall of Famer quietly sat back and accepted whatever number of starts Pete DeBoer decided was proper, he would have been looking over Schneider's shoulder.
 
The Devils did not want that.

"You'd never say never to anything. There are worse things than having a first ballot Hall of Famer in your dressing room and on your team, but I think at our respective points in our careers it probably would have been tougher than in years past," Schneider admitted.

"I think he acknowledged as much last summer. He was very gracious in sort of saying it was my time. I appreciated that. It made things easier. I think everyone has missed having him around, but I've been excited about the opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie and hopefully I will be a part of this franchise for a long time. Part of my goal is to keep the standard of goaltending that's been here for such a long time. I enjoy that challenge and he's absolutely set the tone here as far as what's expected out of a goaltender."

Patrik Elias said he is certain Brodeur and GM Lou Lamoriello had that discussion.

"I'm sure that must have been a discussion after last year. The organization and him both made a decision and moved on," Elias said.

It seems assured that Brodeur will be back with the Devils, perhaps as early as next season, as a member of the front office. Lamoriello believes he can be a successful general manager.

"I think Marty can be very good at whatever he chooses to do. Marty is somebody who is very comfortable in his own skin. Everyone realized that when he decided to play this year despite most people saying 'why?' " Lamoriello said.

"He felt to stay in St. Louis was the right thing. He knew what, potentially, people might think. It's not that he's disrespecting anything. It's just that's what he is comfortable with at this given time. I reversed it a little. It might also be a positive for us to see whether he likes what this is all about from that side of it."

Could Brodeur have reached 700 wins as the Devils' backup this season, thereby assuring he would play for no other NHL team?

Possibly, but it would have been a risk the Devils were wise to avoid.

Rich Chere may be reached at rchere@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ledger_NJDevils. Find NJ.com on Facebook.