Who: Martin Brodeur
From July 09,2010
Martin Brodeur has never been an unrestricted free agent, but the Devils' goaltender thinks he knows what Ilya Kovalchuk is going through.
Like Devils management and most fans, he is anxious to hear Kovalchuk's decision about where he will play next season.
"I'm sure Kovy is not feeling good about what is going on right now," Brodeur told me today after another day without a decision from Kovalchuk. "I don't know for sure, but it can't be something that is comfortable, because if something is comfortable you get it done right away.
"When you're torn between two things or three things it cannot be something that is fun. The pay day is going to be fun, but regardless of what is coming you have to think about all of this.
"I'd love to have him back. I enjoyed playing with him, having Kovy on the team. He's one of the great players I've played with in my career."
Brodeur said he hasn't spoken to Kovalchuk since July 1.
"I've talked to him a bit (before July 1)," the goalie said. "It's a tough decision for him. He's taking his time. The more time he takes the better decision he makes. People are getting anxious. You always go back a little to (Scott) Niedermayer. From what I've read, Lou (Lamoriello) says he's not waiting around (for Kovalchuk’s decision) to do something to improve our team. But if you remember with Niedermayer, it was wait, wait, wait and when he left us not too many free agents were available to us."
Brodeur has been surprised at the lack of interest from teams for top goalies.
"I think it's pretty cut and dry. Kovy is going to be the big answer, whenever he makes his mind up," he said. "For me, the surprise is none of the big goalies getting anything so far. (Marty) Turco, (Evgeni) Nabokov. Jose (Theodore).
“It seems to be kind of a trend after the success of two teams (the Blackhawks and Flyers) with goalies with lower salaries. I don’t know if a lot of teams are banking on stuff like that or not. It's kind of weird some of the top goalies who are free agents didn't get any offers yet. I thought it would happen early."
Nabokov signed with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL in Russia.
"I was definitely surprised to see him leave. He's been having a great career in the NHL. This came out of the blue a little bit," Brodeur said. "Not for crazy money, either. I don't know what the tax implications are in Russia, but this is nothing crazy.
"He's gone for good, too. Six years. He's not coming back to the NHL after that."
Brodeur said he was happy with the Devils’ free agent signings of Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder and backup goalie Johan Hedberg.
“The guys we picked up will help and (provide) some of the things we were lacking,” he said. “I think we need to be a little tougher in our own zone and a little solid coming out of our zone and we answered that. A lot of good things have happened already and now we’re just waiting for the big thing.
“Trust me, I get more calls from my buddies, fans and people I know asking, ‘What’s going on with Kovy?’ He’s going to make his decision and hopefully it will be the right one for us. It looks like if it’s the NHL it’s going to be us, but who knows?”
Volchenkov and Tallinder will be some big bodies in front of Brodeur.
“I like the size. They’re tall guys, over six-foot tall. Big bodies,” said the goalie, who was a Vezina Trophy finalist again this season. “With Volchenkov we finally get a guy who is hard to play against. We have Sal (Bryce Salvador) and Whitey (Colin White) who are tough to play against, but you can never have enough of them.”
With Hedberg joining the Devils, there will be another season of attention on whether Brodeur plays fewer games.
“The more I play, the better and I feel and the more we win. It’s all about making the playoffs,” Brodeur said. “You can’t have success in the playoffs if you don’t make the playoffs.
“We’ll see, but I think having him back me up is a big luxury.”
Doesn’t having Hedberg set the stage for more rest for Brodeur?
“We thought the same when Weeksie (Kevin Weekes) came in,” he said. “He had played 300 games.
“I think what (Hedberg) is going to bring is that ability if I don’t play well, or I’m tired or if I get hurt. You have a guy you’re not afraid to put in there. I’ve always liked him. I don’t know him much, but I know him enough to be comfortable about having him around. When we played against each other we’d always say hi to each other.
“For the time being, not having any young guys coming up, the guys who will maybe take my job eventually, having a guy like that is a good thing.”
Brodeur also weighed in on new head coach John MacLean, a former Devils teammate.
“I’m really excited. He’s been an assistant with a lot of different coaches,” he said. “He got his experience in the minors. I think it’s going to be great. He played the game not long ago.
“Having Larry (Robinson) will be a great help for our young players. And Adam Oates, the job he did with the power play in Tampa was tremendous. That’s something we’ve always had as an issue in New Jersey, our power play. Now, with Arnie (Jason Arnott) back and, hopefully Kovy, and with Zach (Parise), input from a guy like that will be a benefit to our hockey club. Even though he is not part of our family per se, I think it’s going to be a nice change to have. It will be pretty cool to have him around. I’m at that age I know all these guys.”
Brodeur has never become a free agent, choosing to remain loyal to the Devils. As he watches the process with Kovalchuk, I asked him if he wishes he had experienced free agency.
“I have no regrets,” he said. “I look at guys making these decisions. Sometimes it looks great. I think it’s an exciting time for the fans, but when you have family, I think stability is what I always looked for in my career. Free agency goes the opposite. It moves you around.
“You don’t know who is going to be interested. Especially for a goalie. A lot more than a forward or defenseman. It’s narrowed down a lot on teams where you can go. It’s hard to time it for where you want to go. It’s cool but it’s not me. I’ll never be a free agent in my life. I’ll be retired when I become a free agent.”