One of the most difficult things this past season was the roller coaster ride we went on with Martin Brodeur. During the Draft, we celebrated the fact his son became a member of the New Jersey Devils organization. We also grew sad because Mr. Lamoriello decided to secure the Devils’ future by going out and trading for another #1 goaltender, Cory Schneider. It was sad because not only did it mean Johan Hedberg was getting the boot, but it meant the Devils were beginning to say goodbye to Brodeur.
Two #1 goalies on the same team? Brodeur said at the end of the season that Vancouver (where Schneider was traded from) couldn’t handle two #1 goalies, what made the Devils think they could? Apparently, they couldn’t and it caused problems.
Brodeur started talking about being traded back in November. Why? Because a reporter asked him. He answered honestly. Then the rumors began.
Brodeur played a whole lot of “last game as a Devil” this season…at least it filled the seats of the arena.
As the trade deadline grew near, I saw Brodeur in the locker room. He looked at me and I almost bursted out into tears because it was that look that said, “This may be goodbye.” At that point, even he didn’t know what would happen.
So much of my hockey writing career has been covering one of my all-time favorite hockey players (I only have 4 favorites). He’s the only goalie on the list. My hockey adventures included some of Brodeur’s finest moments as he broke record after record. For those of us that were there to witness it, it was like he was sharing his history with us. His memory became part of our own memories.
That’s why it was like a roller coaster of emotions for many fans (including myself) this year.
As I stood in the Devils locker room after the final game, trying to see if anyone in that room had an inkling of what Marty would do, the one glimmer of hope came from Dainius Zubrus. He reminded me of why we hope and why it would be hard to let go of Marty.
Brodeur could decide to do anything. But if I were to make my appeal, it would be for him to stay as a Devil. I mean, he’s got to witness Jagr scoring his 1,000th goal as a Devil. I think Jagr would like to do that with Marty by his side.
Marty knew when the trade happened back in June 2013 that this meant that he needed to start letting go. He had two years to do that in.
Going into this next season, he needs to prepare himself for whatever role is out there for him (this is something he knows). It will either be as a #1 or the backup. At the same time, he needs to start letting go. This is something he knows.
I know it is the most difficult thing to do when you’ve been doing this your whole life and don’t know anything else. To live a different life all of a sudden is a very difficult thing to do, and that includes changing who you are to take on less of a role.
I remember running into Brendan Shanahan a few months after he went to work at the NHL office. I asked him how he was adjusting to his new role. Honestly, at that time, he wasn’t adjusting well. Letting go of your identity of being a hockey player is a long and very lonely journey. Mentally, it is a difficult thing to do.
I remember Marty saying this season that all he wanted was a chance to prove himself. It wasn’t just to the fans or to management, it was also to himself. I think he did that. He can still play this game.
But when you start to come to the end of a journey in life, it is hard to start letting go. Sometimes you need an entire season to mentally prepare yourself. Marty, I don’t think has even begun to think that way.
It is with that, I’m sharing a few pictures I took this season from the games and the locker room. This season was definitely an emotional roller coaster. I don’t think we are ready to let go of Marty, especially his teammates. Far be it for anyone to say he should let go. Give us a season, Marty, like Teemu gave the Ducks fans fair warning that this would be his last season. That way, everyone can start letting go together.