June 11, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) greets Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter after game six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals at the Staples Center. The Kings won the game 6-1 and won the series four games to two. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Martin Brodeur To Test Free Agency

Martin Brodeur has decided that 2012 would not be the last time he laces up the skate for an NHL franchise.  In a move today, the 40 year old netminder has sought out the services of an agent, making the statement that if the New Jersey Devils did not want to bring back the future Hall of Fame goaltender, he would look to end his career wearing an opponents sweater.

I get it – you still think you can play.  The system of the New Jersey Devils and your style of play have protected your body to the point where you have played more than most goaltenders your age.  And you do it well enough to help a team get to within two games of winning the Stanley Cup – so why not come back?

There are plenty of teams out there that need a solid number one goaltender, or a great backup goaltender.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have a huge need at the position.  Rumor has it that the Florida Panthers are considering adding Robert Luongo to the roster for the second time.  How many teams with potential number one goaltenders might take a stab at Brodeur just because it gives them a better chance at winning. If it happens the day will be historic, as he will have worn only one sweater in 20 years

What does this do to the image that is Martin Brodeur?  Had he won the Stanley Cup this year, he would have walked almost immediately into the history books as one of the greatest modern day goaltenders – one of the guys that revolutionized the position – he played a hybrid position, and could play the puck so well the NHL modified rules and the on ice markings.  Had the New Jersey Devils not made such a run into the depths of the post season this year, the decision to hang it up after 20 seasons with the same organization.  With the taste of champion so close, is it a surprise that he wants to stay in the league?  Any team that might have called Dominik Hasek up on his offer to come back to the NHL at the age of 47 would drool over the opportunity to add Brodeur instead.

Playing another season in the NHL will not hurt his chances at the hall – but at what expense.  When the words Martin Brodeur are uttered, you can only think of one thing, the New Jersey Devils.  If the Devils do not entertain the idea of him returning to the NHL – Brodeur should  hang up his skates, and enter the Hall as a New Jersey Devils.  He has nothing left to prove, winner of the Calder Memorial, two Olympic gold medals, three selections to the first team all star honors, rookie all star team honors, three Stanley Cups, four Vezina trophies, five Jennings trophies (tied for most ever with Patrick Roy), his resume his already long enough that his name will never fade from the minds of pure hockey fans.  Did I mention he is one of a select few in the world who have been in net at the same time they scored a goal?  He joins Ron Hextall as the only NHL goaltender with at least two goals.  Hextall scored both of his goals as shots on goal, one of Brodeurs was an own goal, he was credited with the goal because he was the last Devil to touch the puck.  Only 11 goaltenders in the NHL have that honor (putting the puck in the net) he is one of six goalies who were trying to score.

Brodeur is trying to hold onto a career that most goaltenders would dream of  having.  Brodeur is trying to hold onto the game he loves.  If the Devils don’t sign him by Sunday – the NHL netminder needs to call it a career.  It could work in his favor – he could be signed by a team, find success and win again.  At the same time, he could not get any calls on Sunday – to face the hard reality that no one want to have a netminder old enough to be the father to the draft prospects coming to an NHL camp for the first time.

Thank you, Martin Brodeur, for the many years of service, for the many years of great goaltending, and for the memories.  It is time for you to join the other greats in the Hall, and let the next generations of heroes room on the ice.

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