ST. LOUIS (AP) — Martin Brodeur is retiring to take a front office job with the St. Louis Blues. The New Jersey Devils have a spot waiting for one of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history whenever he is ready to come back home.
“Absolutely. He is aware of that and has always been aware of that,” Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said Tuesday. “He could have come back even now if he wanted to.”
The 10-time All-Star and four-time Vezina Trophy winner finished his career with St. Louis after a standout, two-decade run with New Jersey. A news conference was set for Thursday morning before the Blues return from the All-Star break to play Nashville.
“It’s kind of sad to see a guy like him hang ’em up,” said Brian Elliott, the Blues’ All-Star goalie. “I’m sure it’s a tough decision, but I was grateful to be on the same team with him if only for a little bit.”
The 42-year-old Brodeur wrapped up his 22-year career with St. Louis after signing as a free agent on Dec. 2. He was 3-3 with a 2.87 goals-against average and in his final victory became the fifth-oldest goalie to post a shutout in a 3-0 win over Colorado on Dec. 29.
He last played on Jan. 2 in a loss at Anaheim and had not returned since being granted a one-week leave of absence on Jan. 14. Brodeur had dropped to third on the depth chart after Elliott returned from a knee injury, with 24-year-old Jake Allen sharing the position, but teammates are happy he’ll still be around to help.
“It’s an extremely smart move,” forward Alexander Steen said. “All the experience and all that stuff is so valuable to have in an organization. That stuff spreads.”
Lamoriello said he’s been talking with the Brodeur the last several weeks, so the announcement was not a surprise. Lamoriello said it won’t be long before the Devils retire his No. 30 and that there are no hard feelings Brodeur is sticking with St. Louis for now.
“It’s something that he feels he would like to try and see,” Lamoriello said. “He might even find out whether he likes this business or not. Who knows? There is no issue whatsoever.”
Brodeur played his first 21 seasons with the Devils, who did not re-sign him after committing to Cory Schneider as the No. 1 goalie. Schneider said he was a little surprised about the announcement, calling it the end of an iconic career.
“Those kinds of players, like Marty and Jaromir (Jagr), they only come along so often,” Schneider said. “The things that Marty did, I don’t know if we will ever see again or it probably won’t be for a long, long time.”
The Montreal native was 691-397-176 with a 2.24 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and 125 shutouts in 1,266 career appearances. He holds regular-season NHL records for wins, games and minutes.
“I don’t think he has to worry about losing those anytime soon,” Elliott said. “It’s just awesome to be able to stand on the same ice as a guy like that, especially when you look at the record books probably 50 years from now and you can be like, ‘I played with that guy,’ so it’s cool.”
Brodeur also holds postseason records for starts (204) and shutouts (24), and is second in wins (113). He appeared in 70 or more games in 10 consecutive seasons from 1997-98 to 2007-08.
He won three Stanley Cups with the Devils and was a two-time Olympic gold medalist with Team Canada in 2002 and 2010.
Devils center Scott Gomez won two Stanley Cups with Brodeur and remembered a player so handy with the stick it prompted an NHL rule change. Jagr said having Brodeur in goal was like having an extra half defenseman who could start breakouts.
“So many new goaltenders come in the league and it’s kind of incredible for him to adjust and stay in that game for such a long time,” Jagr said. “I don’t think anybody can do that again, in any sport. Maybe (Peyton) Manning if he keeps playing, because quarterback is that type of position.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed to this report.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.