Don’t expect a retirement tour for Martin Brodeur this season with the Devils.
This is the final season on his contract but the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer said he has no plans to discuss during this season whether this will be his last season or not.
“I’m just going to play this year” Brodeur said after taking his training camp physical this morning at Prudential Center. “I’m not going to comment on ‘Yes I will’ or ‘Yes I won’t’ (retire). So you can tell your friends around the league they don’t have to ask that question. I’m not going to tell anybody if I’m going to retire or not until I make a decision of coming back or not.”
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera announced this would be his final season during spring training and has been treated to a farewell tour including gifts in many of the cities he’s visited. Brodeur has no interest in that.
“It’s tough economic times now. I wouldn’t get much in the NHL” Brodeur joked. “No cars. You get a Citizen watch instead of a Rolex. It’s not good.”
Right wing Jaromir Jagr who signed with the Devils in July has supplanted Brodeur as the oldest player on the team – he’s about 2½ months older – and has said this will likely be his final season. The Devils acquired Cory Schneider from Vancouver on June 30 to be Brodeur’s eventual successor in net but Brodeur isn’t ready to give up his spot as the team’s No. 1 just yet.
When asked if he feels he has something to prove in this season because of the trade for the 27-year-old Schneider Brodeur replied “No not really.”
“If they don’t know what I can do they’ll never know” he said. “I’m definitely excited for the challenge to play with him. He’s going to keep me accountable. I don’t really need it but it’s there so I might as well use it. I want to be always the best when I get out there.
“Like I was with (former backup Johan Hedberg). Heddy was a great goalie. If you look at the games played and everything that Heddy brought to the table (as far as experience) it was a lot compared to (Schneider). He’s a younger guy. He’s 27 years old but he’s been in the league for three years or something like that. So he’s got a lot to learn and he’s definitely the guy that’s going to take what I did for so many years and move with it. He’s going to be the top goalie in New Jersey within the next few years there’s no doubt about that.”
Brodeur is looking forward to helping Schneider in any way he can.
“For me it’s a fun opportunity to really help him out and it’s going to help me out at the same time in playing games and doing these things with him” he said.
Brodeur admitted this will be a different training camp for him with his 18-year-old son Anthony here after being drafted in the seventh round by the Devils in June. He already watched Anthony take part in his first training camp practice with the team’s rookies and minor league players on Tuesday and also watched him play a preseason game for his junior team in Gatineau.
“For me this is going to be a fun camp” he said. “It’s already fun. Even though we haven’t started these guys have been here for a few days and just to be able to sit with him – his stall is right next to mine and his changing stall is right next to mine – it’s something special. I never thought I was going to be able to live that.”
Brodeur said his father Denis a former goaltender and the former team photographer for the Montreal Canadiens is also thrilled that his son and grandson are in camp together.
It would make Martin Brodeur feel older if he didn’t feel that way already.
“I do feel old right from the get-go so it’s not a change” he said. “But actually I don’t feel that at all. I think it’s just cool. What’s nice is the reaction of other players. They shake their heads like ‘This is your son.’ People can’t believe it. It’s pretty neat.”
It does bring back memories of when Brodeur came to his first training camps in New Jersey more than 20 years ago.
“It’s similar to when I came (to camp with the Devils for the first time)” he said. “My dad wasn’t the goalie (for the Devils) though. Maybe that’s the only difference. For me it’s just good memories. I enjoyed my times coming to training camp. I was happy to go back (to junior or the AHL). I’m talking to him and I feel like he’s got the same kind of attitude in Gatineau. He’s just starting there and he can’t wait to get there. Now this is a fun time and at one point it’s going to get old and he’s going to want to go back to his team. That’s going to be Gatineau.”
Brodeur would love the opportunity to be on the ice with Anthony for a training camp practice or a scrimmage.
“I think it’s a good opportunity that you have to kind of do something special regardless of what it is” he said. “I’ll take anything just to spend a little time with him on the ice. We’ll see. At the end of the day it’s not about us. It’s about what we’re trying to accomplish in training camp. He’s a young kid and I’ve skated with young kids before. It just happens now it’s my son.
“So it’s definitely something that would be real nice to do something like that.”
Brodeur admits he gets more nervous watching Anthony play than he does when he plays.
“Definitely” he said. “I wish I could be in him and do it for him but that’s where you have to let it go as a dad. It’s hard.”
So if Brodeur ends up facing Anthony in a scrimmage would he nervous watching him play at the other end of the ice or too focused on his own game?
“I might get a couple softies on me so he can win the game” he joked.
When asked what he thinks his son needs to work on Brodeur said “We always have to work on something. For me playing the puck he’s OK but I can see he can get a lot better. He needs to play little more big. He’s not a big goalie to start with (5-11 180). He’s got to learn to be able to stand his ground a little more.
“But for me I always see more things than people see with the regular eye.”
Brodeur watched Anthony play half of a preseason game with Gatineau “and he did real well.”
“He got scored on right away on the first couple shots on a good goal on the power play and after that he made some great saves” he said. “It was good. It was fun to see him play like that.”
Anthony doesn’t appear overwhelmed by being at camp with the Devils or even attending his first junior camp with Gatineau.
“That’s what I tell everybody. For him to be here it’s not new” Martin Brodeur said. “He’s been here all his life. He’s been in the locker room. He’s been with the coaches. When he came back from school the last few years he would skate here. For him he’s not kid of wowed by the whole thing. He’s enjoying his time and maybe he’s able to live it a little more because he feels comfortable right from the get-go. Sometimes as a young kid it’s hard to be comfortable.
“I think the prospect camp really helped because he got to meet some of the guys and he sees them now. At that age they make friends pretty quickly. He’s pretty comfortable. In Gatineau we knew where we were going to send him. We weren’t going to send him to a place that was 100 percent French speaking and remote that nobody could go see him. I was able to spend some time I went to meet his (billet) family where he lives all that stuff. Half the team speaks English there. There are a lot of guys from Ontario and the Maritimes that play on this team so it’s a good set-up.”
Anthony says he’s focused on impressing the coaches and management and not his father but it’s understandable if he’s also looking to make hid dad proud.
“I think it’s a little of both” Martin Brodeur said. “But if he thinks that his mind’s in the right place. Maybe he knows where I’m going to stand later on so he needs to impress me too.”
That seemed to be another hint that Brodeur sees himself in some kind of role with Devils management after he retires – whenever that is.
Don’t expect a retirement tour for Martin Brodeur this season with the Devils.