Martin Brodeur has been the center of the universe for the New Jersey Devils since 1993 when he won the Calder Trophy as the best rookie in the league. He’s played in almost every important game in New Jersey’s recent history, and is one of the main reasons the Devils have three Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters.
Brodeur has established himself as arguably the best big-game goalie in the history of the NHL, and is a can’t-miss, sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer. Votes won’t get much easier than that one.
All the accolades in the world don’t matter much in the world of hockey or sports, sadly. While the Devils have handled Brodeur with applause-worthy class, the time has come for the longtime-starter to be relegated to backup duty.
It has nothing to do with age and it certainly has nothing to do with the trade the the Devils went out and made to acquire Cory Schneider. This is a performance-based business, and if Brodeur was still posting a 2.3 GAA and shutting out opponents every eight or nine games, then we’d be all for letting the old dog play in the yard for just a big longer.
The Devils have gone winless through their first seven games though, managing to grab a few points by forcing a few overtimes. That’s the only thing separating New Jersey from the basement in the Eastern Conference. They are among the worst teams in hockey at the moment and what they are doing clearly isn’t working.
While it’s important that the forward group continues to iron out the chemistry issues, the time is now for the Devils to cement who the true No. 1 goaltender will be moving forward. That’s Schneider, and it’s been Schneider since the Devils somehow managed to turn the ninth-overall selection in the 2013 draft into a bona fide, young starting goalie.
It’s a luxury that teams like the New York Islanders would love to have, and it’s time for Jersey to take advantage of the best player on their team. Again, that’s Schneider. He’s the goalie that gives this team the best chance to win on a nightly basis, and at this juncture Brodeur should only be rolled out sparingly to give him a rest.
That’s the best bet for the Devils to get back on track. Whether or not they can find it in themselves to bench a legend is another matter entirely.