It was a Twitter jolt felt round the hockey world this morning when TSN.cas Darren Dreger first reported the news: Martin Brodeur hired agent Pat Brisson and could test the free-agent market on July 1.
Its almost too stunning to believe. Brodeur, who has spent his career with the Devils (and just wrapped up a six-year deal worth 5.2 million a year with them) possibly playing elsewhere in 2012-13? And no sooner did the news come out that national hockey scribes prognosticated on where Brodeur could land. Several, including Sportsnet.cas Mark Spector, have the veteran going to Chicago.
Here are the pros and cons of the Blackhawks grabbing the future Hall of Famer:
Fantastic mentor: If Brodeur stays with the Devils, hes still a starter. In Chicago, hed start as the backup (considering recent history, lets emphasize start) to Corey Crawford. Theres nothing like some veteran tutelage, and Crawford said he picked up a few things from backup Ray Emery last season, including Emerys strong pregame preparation. Imagine what Crawford could learn from Brodeur, just by watching him on a daily practice basis?
Now in relief : Lets say Crawford gets off to a tough start and the Blackhawks, once again, look to their backup goaltender to right the ship. Brodeur could handle that workload. Up until the 2010-11 season, Brodeur played 70-plus games a season on a fairly regular basis. Even the past two seasons he played 56 and 59 games, respectively.
Hes Martin Brodeur: Its not about what he could bring Crawford, but also to the Blackhawks as a whole. Brodeur has three Cups, records galore and has a locker-room savvy and a calming influence that would be felt throughout that organization. As Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador told me about Brodeurs presence during their Cup run, when you have a guy who holds every record and has won everything and still has the passion to win, at this point in his career that alone is uplifting.
Hes 40: Yes, Brodeur is that rare breed of player who, at 40, hasnt lost a whole lot. But when does his age start becoming an issue? Brodeur has always kept himself in great shape and doesnt have a lot of past injuries, outside of a torn bicep that cost him much of the 2008-09 season. Still, there are always other factors that can accelerate the wear and tear, which brings us to
Western Conference schedule woes: God bless the Eastern Conference teams (and their scribes) who never have to know the rigors of the Western Conference schedule. Its brutal, even for a very centrally located Blackhawks team. Brodeur has had it nice, schedule-wise, for a long time; the Devils most distant division foe is Pittsburgh, is a mere 360 miles away. The Blackhawks division isnt, but its the rest of the West that were talking about. East teams take, what, one long trip per year vs. West foes and then stay in their own time zone for the rest of the season? It would be a big change, and one that could affect the aging goalie.
Other needs rank higher: Just one scribes opinion, but the Blackhawks need to bolster their defense should still be top priority. Brodeur could still want a decent amount of cash (although probably not the 5.2 million he earned each of the last six seasons). Yes, making the right moves could get the Hawks a good defenseman and Brodeur. But ultimately, solidifying the D, not the backup goaltending spot, will probably be the way the Blackhawks go.