Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teammates appreciated Brodeur's short stint

Blues happy to keep future Hall of Famer on board through rest of season

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Even though he was a teammate for roughly two months, Blues players knew what they were getting in Martin Brodeur.

Brodeur's pedigree spoke for itself, with a plethora of NHL goalie records that will likely never be broken along with three Stanley Cups.

What Brodeur's teammates learned quickly was the amount of valuable information he had for them and just how much of an enjoyable teammate he was even as a 42-year-old that displayed a youthful exuberance.
(Photo by Scott Rovak, St. Louis Blues)
Vladimir Tarasenko (eight) congratulates Martin Brodeur on what turned
out to be the future Hall of Famer's final and 125th NHL shutout on Dec. 29.

"He was the type of guy who had fun with the game until obviously he stops," Blues goalie Brian Elliott said. "He's the type of guy that will make a big save in practice and chirp the guys, laughs and has fun out there. That's how you survive in the game for so long; you've got to have fun. I think he did that through his whole career.

"I've never met him before, so just kind of learning the type of guy he is, the way he is, the way he handles himself day-to-day. That's the stuff you learn. That's the stuff you soak in a little bit. He's always talking, always upbeat, happy to be at the rink every day. I don't think a lot of guys can say that. Everybody has tough days when they go to work, but we have such a unique job and if you're not having fun, you're doing the wrong thing. He definitely exemplifies how you should be day in and day out in the NHL."

Brodeur, who will formally announce his retirement from the NHL after 22 seasons with the New Jersey Devils and Blues, becomes eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. He likely without a doubt will gain entrance on the first ballot.

Brodeur went 3-3-0 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in seven appearances with the Blues, but the in-between stuff, the practices, the camaraderie, teaching, is what players will take most from someone who will most definitely go down as arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history.

"Most of it was off-the-ice stuff," left wing Alexander Steen said. "The experience he has, what a winner he is. Stuff like that spreads more than a couple tremendous saves he made on the ice. That was bigger for us than anything else.

"I don't know if it's surreal. You grow a completely different appreciation for the type of person and player that he was."

The Blues will make Brodeur's retirement official at a 10:30 a.m. press conference on Thursday at Scottrade Center and reveal that he will take on a front office position in a managerial role.

"If that's the case, it's an extremely smart move," Steen said. "All the experience and all that stuff is so valuable to have in an organization, that stuff spreads. It doesn't just stay up in the offices, it spreads throughout the organization and the players."

"I didn't know that or I don't know what's going forward, but he's got a wealth of information from pucks through the years," Elliott said of Brodeur. "I think he understands the guys in the locker room and I think he kind of understands he's kind of been involved in a lot of dealings with management as well with New Jersey and dealing with our guys through Team Canada and stuff. He can provide a lot of input as as far as how guys are feeling in the locker room and if he was in our position, what he would be feeling. I think having guys that have played the game like that, especially for so long at such a high leadership role, it only bodes well for us."

Brodeur took a leave of absence from the team to ponder his future after it became clear playing time on the ice was reduced to slim and none when Elliott returned from the knee sprain that sidelined him for five weeks, and with Jake Allen entrenched as the backup.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Goalie Martin Brodeur (30) will announce his retirement from the NHL on
Thursday. Here he waves to fans at Scottrade Center after his final win.

Brodeur, who signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with incentives on Dec. 2, really didn't have much, if at all, a trade market at his disposal, and the Blues felt Brodeur was too valuable to the organization to expose on waivers and allow him to possibly walk for free.

The Blues left the decision entirely in his hands. Players and coach Ken Hitchcock lobbied for him to stay, and in the end, even if it is for the short term, having Brodeur on hand can only enhance the Blues' chances of having playoff success.

"Ask guys that have played with him in the past when he was coming in, you would ask, 'What do you think of him?' Marty's Marty, and that's kind of like the response you get," Elliott said. "You don't really understand what they mean until he comes. He's just himself and he doesn't bring any ego or anything to it. He just commands respect obviously with the many Stanley Cups you have and as many records and shutouts that you have. It's not like he needed to work at it or anything. He just came in, was himself and guys kind of responded to that."

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