Last night's win over the Red Wings, his 684th all-time, was either Martin Brodeur's last start as a Devil, or his last start as a Devil until Friday (when NJ takes on Detroit again in the first half of back-to-backs). So no one knew quite how to act.
Every franchise dreams of having a player so great that finally cutting the cord is unbearably painful. Brodeur's manned the pipes for 21 years now, an eternity in hockey terms. He's still the face of the team, but a shell of his former self. When rumors flew yesterday that the Devils had a deal in place to ship Brodeur to Minnesota before the trade deadline, ticket prices for last night's game skyrocketed, as fans wanted to give their man a proper send-off.
The rumors turned out to be false, but that didn't dampen the crowd's enthusiasm. The usual "Marty, Marty, Marty" chants rang out throughout the night, supplemented with some "We Want Marty"s, making fans' feelings known.
"This is who I am. I'm a Devil, and I'm always going to be a Devil, regardless of what happens tomorrow," Brodeur said after it ended.
The deadline is in six hours. Brodeur's fate is complicated by a few factors. Even before all the goaltender movement yesterday, how many teams are really looking for a 41-year-old backup with an .899 save percentage? Even if the Devils do decide to move him, will they find a taker?
Further compromising his tradeability is the fact that he doesn't want to be a one-month rental. Brodeur said he wants to play another season, and he wants to go to a contender, and he could use his no-trade clause to make sure he only ends up in his ideal situation. Good luck with that.
Brodeur had a long talk with GM Lou Lamoriello after last night's game. He would reportedly welcome leaving, and the Devils are going to try to make it happen. He's not happy backing up Cory Schneider, and not happy being on the outside of the playoff picture. Meanwhile, he's still a hero in New Jersey, and getting more starts than he'd receive anywhere else. Anyplace he'd want to go isn't likely to want him. It's a crappy situation for both sides—divorces are harder the longer you've been together.