New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur has been struggling with a back problem this season, but he fully expects to return to goal for the Devils this Thursday. According to New Jersey Online, Brodeur practiced on Monday with the team and is aiming to dress for the Devils game on Tuesday as Johan Hedberg’s backup and then return to the net as the starter on Thursday.
“I love to be part of these games. They’re always fun. But it’s not the first time I’m missing a Rangers game,” Brodeur said. “Hopefully I’ll feel good enough tomorrow to be watching it from the bench.”
The 40-year old goalie has been sidelined since late February and practiced for the first time in three weeks today. The injury initially happened in practice back on February 24th, and Brodeur tried to play the Devils following game against the Winnipeg Jets but determined after pregame warmups that he wouldn’t be able to be effective in net.
“It was a pinched nerve. It started with a spasm in my back. After that it created other symptoms that I had a hard time getting rid of. To look at me and my day to day (routine), you couldn’t tell. I just couldn’t play hockey. It was all in my upper back and shoulder.”
Devils head coach Pete DeBoer said that Brodeur’s injury made him uneasy, as unlike a definitive injury like a broken bone, injuries to the back are often open ended and leave you hanging in terms of when you can expect a player back.
“Sure there was concern,” DeBoer said. “You always want to know exactly what you’re dealing with. If it’s a broken bone it’s usually 4-6 weeks. When you get these other injuries you’re never sure and you just cross your fingers and hope that it’s the shorter end of the time frame they give you.”
Brodeur may not dress on Tuesday but if he doesn’t start on Thursday, he could likely sit out until next week at the earliest.