With 16 saves against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night, Martin Brodeur registered the 125th shutout of his career. There’s a chance it could very well be his last.
On Sunday, the Blues announced that Brian Elliott, the netminder whose injury sparked the signing of Brodeur, was on his way to returning and he may be back as soon as this week. With young goaltender Jake Allen looking every bit as ready to become an every day NHL starter as Elliott already is, it’s clear there’s no room in St. Louis for all of Allen, Elliott, and Brodeur.
Brodeur’s attempt at a comeback has been admirable. He took a massive pay cut, knew what his role would be, and performed to the best of his ability. The problem is, however, that maybe his ability just isn’t there anymore.
Coming into tonight, the surefire Hall of Fame goaltender had an .892 save percentage and a 3.29 goals-against average in five games this season. He has won two and lost two, but was never really spectacular. After Monday night, his record sits at 3-2 with a .904 SP and 2.63 GAA. Those numbers are not befitting what has been one of the most storied careers of any player to ever play the game, but somehow a proper reflection of a netminder who is in the twilight of his career.
With Elliott set to return, the Blues, a team in the thick of the playoff hunt, certainly can’t rely on Brodeur. They haven’t been able to thus far, and likely won’t in the future. That’s why when Elliott returns, Brodeur will be relegated to third-string duties.
Brodeur hasn’t explicitly said it, but it’s widely assumed this contract of his was for the NHL, and the NHL only. He won’t be heading to Chicago to play for the AHL’s Wolves. And if he’s going anywhere, it’s to the next NHL team that needs him and the one to which he wants to go to. Otherwise, he’ll be going back home.
And the sad thing for Brodeur, and disappointing thing for fans of his, is that there probably aren’t very many teams that would want or need him at this point. With suspect numbers, teams are better off looking at their AHL options instead of getting lumped into a bonus laden contract – Brodeur makes $10,000 for every point he earns – that could have salary cap implications next season.
So unless Elliott reaggravates his injury before he makes his return or Allen goes down with an injury soon, Monday night may well have been Brodeur’s curtain call. And if it was, it’s fitting he went out in shutout fashion.