TRH GAMEDAY 32: ST. LOUIS BLUES – Aging Idol

The St. Louis Blues are an organization where, when dealing with goaltenders, it is safe to classify them as a teensy bit trigger happy. Few can argue about the thorough rejuvenation the team has enjoyed in the past five or six years as its gone from an irrelevant group that annually finished in the bottom half of the Western Conference to a perennial playoff contender (which annually finds a way to fizzle out in spectacular fashion).

But when it comes to the guys they employ between the pipes, the Blues’ brass seem to be just as impulsive and indecisive as the Arizona Coyotes’ web designers. In just the short span of the last two years, the decision-makers at the helm of the organization have come to each of the following conclusions:

  1. “Wow, we are so deep in net. We have both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Stanley Cup here we come!”
  2. “Well, Halak keeps getting hurt. Let’s get rid of him.”
  3. “Wow, we are so deep in net. We have both Ryan Miller and Brian Elliott. Stanley Cup here we come!”
  4. “Well, Miller wasn’t what we were looking for. Let’s get rid of him.”
  5. “Wow, we are so deep in net. We have both Jake Allen and Brian Elliott. Stanley Cup here we come!”
  6. “Well, Elliot is hurt. What does our AHL goalie situation look like? Just kidding let’s make a free agent splash!”

The injury to Elliott brought about a roster move so out of left field even the most studious of hockey prognosticators were caught blindsided: the signing of Martin Brodeur. The Blues did not merely sign Brodeur, they rolled out the virtual red carpet for him.

Everyone by now well knows the situation: St. Louis needed a goalie with experience, Brodeur had been waiting patiently for a suitor since the end of last season, the two crossed paths via a tryout agreement, and before you know it the Blues were taking heavily-edited photographs of the most winning-est name in NHL goaltending history on a blue and gold sweater.

There’s also the part about the zany terms and addendum to the one-year, $700k contract that Brodeur signed, which even the St. Louis staff has been open with joking about exactly how zany they are. But what is done is done, and the truth remains that the quintessential New Jersey Devil, save for Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko, is now a member of the St. Louis Blues.

armstrong_marty644

Wait a second, you aren’t Lou Lamoriello.

Now, if you all don’t mind, it’s confession time.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t kind of a Martin Brodeur fan. No, the guy was my damn hero. In my bedroom there was at one point (and may or may not still be) four different Brodeur posters, a signed Brodeur portrait won by my parents in one of those traveling auction things, a life-sized Brodeur fathead, and other various New Jersey paraphernalia. In my closet was, not one, not two but THREE different Brodeur jerseys. Both a home and road one as well as one from the 2004 All-Star Game in St. Paul, which I had the opportunity to attend, and still happens to be the high-water mark of Minnesota Wild history.

2004NHLAll-StarRefereesweaters

Which was also the last year where league gave any thought at all to the All-Star Game’s uniforms.

I can’t say for sure whether it was my youthful enamor of Martin Brodeur that led me to become a goalie. I can, however, say with absolute certainty that it was the reason why I asked my parents to buy me the black and red CCM goalie sticks when my youth team was blue and white, and why one of my first sets of pads were Heatons.

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Symmetry didn’t reach the NHL until 2000

I followed the Devils through elementary school and into middle school, which included the Cup runs in 2000 and 2003 (albiet without having a full appreciation of what exactly that accomplishment meant – something I would find out almost a decade later). But as I grew older, and my own hockey career began to materialize, Brodeur and all other professional athletes became less of god-like superheroes and more like people who it was clear were way better at you are at just about everything. Years passed, I ventured west, and picked up the Kings allegiance I subscribe to today.

My time in LA also introduced me to a young goalie whom I see a lot of the same attributes I admired Brodeur for back in his prime. An undeniable creativity in his game and a stubborn refusal to accept the same mold of those around him. Just as Martin Brodeur was arguably the last true “stand-up” netminder, Jonathan Quick is one of the few modern goalies to rely more on pure athleticism and reactions than a strict technical game that borders on monotonic. When it came to my answer to the question of “who is your favorite goalie?” it was a natural progression from Brodeur to Quick.

Because of this, the 2012 Cup Final had a convenient contingency plan for me – for if the Kings miraculous run fell just short, I figured I could live with my boyhood idol being the one to stop them. If Los Angeles couldn’t win, why not let a legend take one final lap with the Cup into the sunset toward what I assumed was retirement.

But the guy never retired. Two more seasons of understandably mediocre performance (being a quadragenarian and all), and the Devils finally decided to give one of the forefathers of their franchise the ever-so-loving shove into the NHL’s version of the old-folks home. I’m talking about free agency, not the circa-2012 Dallas Stars.

Nobody would have faulted Brodeur if he would have retired last season (or after any of the last six seasons for that matter); he’s got three Stanley Cups, a litany of NHL records and the distinction of being ranked either No. 1 or No. 1A on the list of the greatest goaltenders of all-time. But apparently there is still some buck left in this bronco, and now he is set to meet against the Kings for the first time since that fateful series that brought us moments like this.

…and this…

…ah hell and this too…

*Wipes away tears*

Where were we? That’s right, Brodeur. The way I see it, he’s going down one of two paths with this gig with the Blues. He could finally throw the towel in his battle with Father Time after this season, then sometime next October sign a one-day contract with New Jersey and take warm ups in what is sure to be the most heartwarming gimmick since Daniel Alfredsson did it two weeks ago.

Or he will go the Brett Favre route, stage a couple of fake retirements, and then every year and a half or so get the rumor mill started about whether or not he could make a spirited comeback.

As someone who has an incredible amount of respect for what Brodeur has done throughout his career, I hope he cashes his final check before his legacy is weighed down with these to-quit-or-not-to-quit shenanigans. Or an alleged scandal with Jenn Sterger. Whichever comes first.

Come on Marty, I had posters of you, don’t make this any more awkward for me than it already is.

BrodeurWrangler
 

TENDER GOALIE SWIPE TO VICTORY™

QUICK-Blues

 

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Knick Rickle was a former junior and college goaltender and is a current aspiring journalist and mediocre adult league goaltender. While growing up in Minneapolis, he learned how to play by attending Robb Stauber's goalie school, which unbeknownst to him at the time was the first step in becoming a Kings fan. The rest of the steps came when became probably the first person ever to move to California from Minnesota to play hockey. He currently is unemployed, holds an English degree, while contributing to #TeamTRH, so you be the judge how his hockey career turned out. You can follow KnickRickle on Twitter @KnickRickle.