by pcoffey on 10/24/13 at 09:49 AM ET
Martin Brodeur has been as logical as a Vulcan for pretty much his entire career. It's hard to remember any outbursts or antics about anything that has occurred during his time with the New Jersey Devils.
Which makes it altogether unsurprising in reading Wednesday's media reports that Brodeur acknowledged that Cory Schneider had assumed the top spot among the goalies without anger or rancor.
“I think every time you go through kind of a change with goalies and stuff it’s always a story,” Brodeur told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “It doesn’t mean it’s just with the Devils. Vancouver dealt with that for three years in a row. It happens. I think we’re in a situation that whatever the coach feels is the best opportunity for him to win, he’s going to do it, and right now the way Cory’s been playing he’s well deserved to be in the net.
“I’m not saying I don’t deserve, but if that’s what the coach feels, it’s fine.
“I hate not playing,” Brodeur said. “That’s the bottom line. I play hockey to play hockey, not to watch and practice. But, I’m happy it happens at 41 and not at 27.”
Schneider, of course, is the Devils' goalie of the future, and now of the present. This also isn't surprising to anyone who manages, coaches, plays or roots for New Jersey. Lou Lamoriello wasn't swapping a pick in the top 10 of the 2013 Entry Draft to provide a sidekick to Brodeur. No, his view was entirely on setting the Devils up for life after Brodeur.
“I don’t see it as a competition,” Brodeur said. “Cory is definitely in a different bracket than any other goalie that I played with. I think he’s going to be a top goalie in the NHL for a long time. There’s no doubt about that. At the end of the day, we’re part of a team and me and him are playing on this team. That’s a good luxury to have for a team, but right now it’s not paying off one way or another.”
And truth be told, Brodeur, now 41, has struggled this season. He is 0-2-2 with a 3.04 goals-against average and .865 save percentage. Those are, obviously, very un-Brodeur-like numbers, so opting to use Schneider for the foreseeable future makes sense for the Devils, who are a terrible 1-5-3 heading into play against Vancouver Thursday night.
Let's not misrepresent things. Brodeur isn't happily heading into the sunset from the end of the bench, but he does see the logic of the move to Schneider.
“I think he’s in the net now to stay,” Brodeur told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record Wednesday. “I don’t see that’s going to be changed any time soon. I’ll be ready if it is, but I think we’ve got to try to win some games somehow. This is what (head coach Pete DeBoer) feels is the best opportunity for him to be successful is having (Schneider) in the net and that’s fine. If we win, everybody’s happy. Even though I don’t play, it’s more enjoyable to be around."
The Devils are a fragile team right now. Normally, the Devils have gotten off to solid starts in the past, and even when they have struggled, it hasn't been to this level, where seemingly every mistake ends up in their net. Complicating factors is New Jersey has added a score of new forwards, and everyone into a comfort zone is taking some time. Brodeur told Gulitti he is confident his teammates will turn their fortunes around.
“I think we feel it’s not like we’re getting outplayed. We make mistakes that we pay the price on every single time. We didn’t make a mistake against the Rangers and we won. It’s just that how a little bit we’re fragile. One little thing goes wrong, one little turnover."
While Brodeur is accepting of DeBoer's decision to use Schneider in a string of games, he isn't happy about it.
“I haven’t changed. I want to play every game," said Brodeur, who has grown accustomed to playing the majority of the games each season. "It’s not fun to sit.
“It’s hard when you’re used to being the guy that’s counted on to play and all the sudden you’re not asked to. It definitely makes it a little hard, but it’s part of the process of getting older. It’s like we talked about the last three years. I haven’t played as many games either. It’s kind of somewhat a transition. But definitely it’s not fun.
“You don’t play hockey, especially at the age I am, to just sit on the bench and hang out and have to do what I did today (be the only goalie in practice). It was fun today. I had a blast, but ask me that in two months and I don’t know if I’ll say the same thing.”
Life brings change, as Brodeur has discovered personally. He experienced the joy of seeing his son drafted by the Devils in June and the sorrow of the loss of his father to cancer during training camp. He also realizes the hockey fortunes of the Devils have changed, with New Jersey no longer considered among the NHL elite.
“We haven’t made the playoffs in two out of the last three years,” Brodeur told Gulitti. “Not that I’m getting used to it. It’s not fun. It’s not a fun situation. Hockey’s fun when you get on the ice. But the whole aspect of hockey is your whole situation of traveling together, being together, in a losing situation it’s harder to smile. It’s just tougher on everybody.”
Brodeur didn’t become the NHL’s all-time leader with 669 wins and 121 shutouts by being satisfied with watching someone else play. There’s always been that competitive drive in him to play every game and be successful.
For the first time in his career, though, the Devils have another goaltender worthy of being the No. 1 goaltender.
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