NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur has yet to declare that he’s coming back for another season. But a day before he turns 40, the New Jersey Devils future Hall of Fame goaltender certainly sounds as though he’s leaning that way.
“I think so,” Brodeur replied Saturday when asked if he thinks he still has more years left in him. “I’m really enjoying this ride, regardless of what’s going to happen in the next month or two months. I enjoy coming to the rink and playing hockey, and I think I don’t wanna sit back five years from now and say I should’ve played one more [season].
“That decision will really come later on whether I’m going to [retire] or not. [But] as of now, I’m really enjoying myself and really liking [playing hockey].”
The 18-year veteran, who is in the final year of his contract and will become a free agent at season’s end, has been defying his age in the 2012 playoffs. In 10 starts, Brodeur is 6-3 with a 2.16 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and one shutout.
“In regular life,  is [young],” said Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time winningest netminder. “Hockey is just a game. I don’t know why they associate age with it all the time. ... It is what it is. It’s been a good ride and I don’t think that extra day [with me being 40] makes a big difference.”
Devils coach Peter DeBoer has been impressed at how well Brodeur has played.
“From a guy that’s in his 40s, he looks a lot better than I do,” DeBoer said. “There are a lot of games on that body and he looks like he’s not done yet. It looks like he has years left.”
Brodeur made his professional debut with the Devils on March 26, 1992. At that time, he couldn’t have fathomed capturing Stanley Cup championships and garnering awards and other accolades.
“I was just hoping to play one game in the NHL, let alone for this long,” Brodeur said. “So I definitely feel fortunate about everything that’s happened to me and being able to compete at the highest level at my age, and being healthy for most of the ride.
“You never expect things like that. If somebody says, ‘Oh, yeah. I’m 18 years old, yeah, I know what’ I’m gonna do ...’ That doesn’t happen. There [are] too many things that can go wrong and different routes that could make you have a different ending.”
Brodeur doesn’t think his style has changed much over the years. He’s still one of the only hybrid (more standup than butterfly) goaltenders left in an always evolving game.
He still loves to come out of his crease and handle the puck, something he’s always excelled in. Brodeur says he’s tried to be more patient in that particular aspect of his game, though, but sometimes it gets the best of him.
“He’s had to take care of himself and get a little bit more rest,” DeBoer said. “I think that’s been critical.”
Brodeur is 1-2 in playoff games on his birthday. Sunday night’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers will mark his first postseason birthday start at home.
Last season, Brodeur spent his 39th birthday in Florida since the Devils didn’t qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.
“It was nice, you get to see your family,” he said.
On Sunday night, though, Brodeur doesn’t play on celebrating the big “4-0” until he gets home.
So what does he want for his birthday?
“Obviously, to beat the Flyers, that’s for sure,” he replied.