TORONTO – One day Martin Brodeur will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame as an honored member. He has won 688 regular-season games, more than any other goaltender. He has won four Vezina Trophies as the NHL’s best goaltender. He has won three Stanley Cups.
But Monday night, Brodeur entered the Hall to support the late Pat Burns, who coached the New Jersey Devils to the Cup in 2003 and finally received his due. Told he would delay his own induction by a year if he returned to play this season, because players aren’t eligible until three years after retirement, Brodeur just laughed.
“That’s all right,” Brodeur said. “It’s not a big deal.”
Brodeur hasn’t given up. He still wants to play at age 42. He’s still willing to go to another team, even though he has spent his entire 21-season NHL career with the Devils. He’s skating three or four times a week, and he has set no deadline.
“I’m here if somebody needs me,” Brodeur said. “I’m going to keep myself ready. Whatever happens, I don’t need to make a decision. I don’t want to cheat myself of any opportunities if it happens later on. I’m just taking it day by day.”
Brodeur acknowledged he had spoken to Hockey Canada about playing in the Spengler Cup, but hopes to be back in the NHL before then. “Right now that’s not my goal to play around Christmas time in Switzerland, that’s for sure,” Brodeur said.
What role is Brodeur willing to accept?
“I’m willing to play any kind of role that will be offered to me to a certain extent – in the right fit, in the right market,” Brodeur said. “For me, it’s not about ego or anything. I just love to play the game. I know I could help a team out somehow, and I just want to try to get an opportunity. The role will be the role that will be assigned to me."
How long before Brodeur could be in game shape?
“If you need a goalie tomorrow, that could be a tough one,” Brodeur said. “But I’m willing to do it. It doesn’t matter. I’ve done it before, came back from injury without playing for four or five months and jumped right in it. It doesn’t matter.”
Brodeur said he had been enjoying quasi-retirement – spending time with his kids, traveling a lot, doing the things he couldn’t do when he was playing. That said …
“I still have the fire,” Brodeur said. “I’d like to play again. But it’s understandable, with the quality of goaltending around the league – the youth of the quality goaltending, I should say – is pretty tremendous. We’ll see if my experience is valued to turn an organization around.”