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The time has come for one of the greatest goalies to ever play hockey to retire. After 21 seasons in the NHL, Brodeur simply cannot keep up with the players of the next generation. As a fan of hockey it will be a sad day when Brodeur retires; hockey will be losing not only one of its greatest players, but one of its greatest people too.
However, his options are limited for next season as he has said many times he wants to play for a team who could help him win his fourth Stanley Cup. If he doesn’t go to a contender then he would “like to play a lot” as he told Yahoo Sports. However, there may not be a team that would want to give a starting spot to a goalie whose stats have been decreasing for the past several years and whose best years are way behind him.
If you look at Brodeur’s past four season’s starting during the 2010-2011 season, his total games played and his save percentage has decreased, while his goals-against-average has increased, according to NHL.com.
If you look at the amount of games played his first two season’s, during this time frame, he played 56 and 59. The next season he played 29 of the 48 in the lockout-shortened season. If the season had been played in full and he played the same rate of games for the other 34 games of the year, he would have only played 49 games. Then last year with the addition of Cory Schneider, his total games played plummeted to 39.
Even with the decreasing workload, his stats have also started going downhill. Brodeur’s career GAA is 2.24 and his career save percentage is .912. He has not hit those numbers since 2009-2010 season. Three of the past four seasons’ his save percentage has been .903 or below. His GAA has been 2.45, 2.41, 2.22 and 2.51 in each of the past four years. Last year, Brodeur ranked 26 out of 51 eligible goalies in GAA and 45 out 51 in save percentage.
A Stanley Cup contending team such as the Chicago Blackhawks, LA Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, or Boston Bruins would not want to give 20-25 games to a back-up goalie that would possibly let up 2.5 goals per game. Only Chicago let up more than 2.5 goals per game last year, but they also scored the second most goals per game at 3.18.
That brings me to my second point. Why would a team that could win the Stanley Cup want to have a 42-year-old goalie as their back up? Other than the obvious reason of mentoring a younger goalie, there are not many.
If you look at the four teams from above, the Blackhawks, Kings, Penguins and Bruins, all of them have an established starter who has started at least 58 games in a season, and all have won a Stanley Cup (Tuukka Rask was a back-up when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011). These teams would not want to add Brodeur. They would probably want to bring in a younger goalie, possibly from their minor league team, to help them win games and to get the younger goalie experience for the future. If you also look at the teams that did really well in the regular season you find something similar throughout the league. Teams that are winning a lot will end up having two really good goaltenders on their roster. I don’t know if that is because of the system that they play, or whether the team just plays well no matter who is in goal, but it has become a common occurrence in the NHL.
The past three out of the past four winners of the William Jennings Trophy, which is given to the goalie or goalies that let up the fewest goals during the season, have been a goaltending duo, Roberto Loungo and Cory Schneider in 2011, Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak in 2012, Corey Crawford and Ray Emery in 2013 and Jonathan Quick last season.
The Bruins were an excellent example of that last season. Their two goalies played 81 of the 82 games; Tuukka Rask started 58 games while Chad Johnson started 23. Rask had a 2.04 GAA and Johnson 2.10. Having two goalies that are above average possibly in net would greatly help the team. However, if one of the goalies is below average and could possibly decrease even more, then why would a team want that goalie on the ice?
One last reason that Brodeur should retire is that not even the New Jersey Devils, the team that he won three Stanley Cups with, wanted him to come back. It was thought they did not want him back when they let him enter free agency, but it became official when they signed Scott Clemmensen to a two-year contract.
With Cory Schneider’s new contract there is no way that Brodeur would get to play the amount of games he wants to.
Brodeur’s time is up. He should hang-up his skates and move into a front office position or coaching role.
Image Credit:B. Ach/INFphoto.com