Now that the dust has settled after the NHL’s trade deadline, teams can either celebrate or sigh. There were some clear winners and losers on Wednesday at 3:01 p.m., but the biggest victor was an easy choice: the New Jersey Devils fan base.
There had been rumors swirling for quite some time about the Devils potentially moving future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur, a four-time Vezina Trophy winner who has spent his entire 20-year career with New Jersey.
Twitter blew up on Tuesday morning, when word got out a deal might be in place with Minnesota, and people wondered if the night’s game against Detroit would be Brodeur’s last. Some said it’d be like nabbing a ticket to see Babe Ruth in his final Yankee game. Some said, if the swap actually came to fruition, it’d be like Mariano Rivera being traded in the middle of his farewell tour.
No matter your opinion, you have to agree Brodeur belongs in the same class as those fellow sports heroes. The state of panic for Devils fans hit an all-time high on Wednesday morning, hours before the deadline approached, when the trade whispers were still growing louder.
Then, news broke that the Wild had acquired netminder Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers, so the hockey community assumed Brodeur would remain home.
Admittedly, Brodeur told reporters that the rumors felt “weird.”
“There was (a little uncertainty) not knowing what would happen,” he told the Associated Press. “I was pretty particular about what I asked, so I knew the chances were that I wasn’t going to go anywhere.”
Brodeur, who’s started just 31 of the team’s 65 games while sharing time with Cory Schneider, said he didn’t give Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello a list of teams for whom he would play, but rather situations where he’d be able to play more.
“I am here to do my best and play as many games as possible and get into the playoffs,” Brodeur told the Associated Press. “I don’t have many years left and I want to get into the playoffs and get another run. We’re in a position on the outside looking in and I want to be part of the solution on getting into the playoffs, and hopefully, I’ll get a chance to do it.”
Brodeur, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, should finish his career in New Jersey. It’s only fitting.
Count head coach Pete DeBoer as one who believes that sentiment.
“We have a great luxury of two starting goaltenders,” DeBoer said. “For selfish reasons, individually at least, they both would like to play more and we understand that.”
Two points separate New Jersey from a three-way tie with Detroit and Columbus for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Even if a spirited run in the postseason ensues, there still will be burning questions. Will he leave for another franchise after the season? Will he just simply retire? Nobody knows for sure.
For now, Devils fans still have No. 30. That’s the way it should be.
Let’s take a look at some other winners of the trade deadline.
New York Rangers: New York could’ve used some more offensive punch, and the team found that in Martin St. Louis. The Rangers traded Ryan Callahan (11 goals, 14 assists) for the veteran St. Louis (29 goals, 33 assists), hoping they can climb higher than the seventh seed.
St. Louis Blues: Yes, Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot have been serviceable in goal for the Blues this season, but neither boasts the resume of Ryan Miller. St. Louis acquired the former Vezina Trophy winner with hopes of enjoying a fruitful trip through the wild West’s playoffs.
Montreal Canadiens: Montreal, seeded third in the East with 77 points after Saturday’s games, picked up Thomas Vanek for a cheap price. With 21 goals and 32 assists, he becomes the team’s leading scorer and should dramatically enhance a mediocre offense.