New Jersey Devils: New Jersey Devils

Schneider ready to take over, says Weekes

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
It will be a strange sight indeed should legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur, now an unrestricted free agent after more than two decades with the New Jersey Devils, sign elsewhere.

And while Brodeur reigned supreme as the face of the franchise for years, leading it to three Stanley Cup championships while establishing himself as perhaps the best goaltender of all time, the time has finally come for him to part ways with his long-time team.

That may be a good thing for the Devils.

With the departure of Brodeur, the Devils have since swung full support behind incumbent Cory Schneider, who recently inked a seven-year, $42 million extension.

"He was ready to take that mantle,” former Devils goatlender Kevin Weekes told in a telephone interview last week. “I like that the franchise was able to put that to bed and start that transition.”

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Andre Ringuette/NHLI/Getty ImagesFormer Devils goalie Kevin Weekes says New Jersey is set up well to move past the Martin Brodeur era.
For a good chunk of last season, Schneider outplayed Brodeur, leaving the Devils in a tight spot in how to handle the situation with an elite, accomplished player who will surely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Schneider, who was mired in long goaltending controversy in Vancouver before he was acquired by the Devils in a stunning trade in June 2013, was clearly the heir apparent in New Jersey, but Brodeur seemed reluctant to relinquish the throne.

“It’s a unique situation,” said Weekes, now an analyst for NHL Network. “Because he’s Marty Brodeur, he’s earned the right to his influence and impact. Sometimes, the problem with that is it’s not always what’s best for the Devils’ personnel.”

The Devils, who finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs by five points with a disappointing 35-29-18 record, may benefit from having a clear-cut starter moving forward. And Schneider, who posted a 1.97 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage last season, has proved himself more than capable of assuming the No. 1 job.

Weekes, who has known Schneider since he was an NHL rookie, said the 28-year-old Marblehead, Massachusetts, native is a gem.

“He’s a first-rate individual,” said Weekes, who finished his career as a Devil. “Classy, super-intelligent and he handles himself like a pro.”

Weekes was also thrilled to see veteran goal scorer Mike Cammalleri sign with New Jersey as a free agent this summer. He thinks he’ll be a great fit with the Devils and will provide the club with leadership and much-needed offense, especially after a strong 2013-14 season with the Calgary Flames.

“He’s obviously a goal scorer and it’s not just his shot, but also his legs. He kind of got back to doing things to get open space, finding holes, eluding defenders, setting himself up in position to shoot,” Weekes said. “I think he did an unbelievable job at that last year in Calgary. He really rediscovered his game.”

Add in a long-term contract for well-respected blueliner Andy Greene and a healthy captain in Bryce Salvador, and the Devils have a strong veteran presence on their blue line.

But what Weekes is most intrigued to see is how 21-year-old Adam Larsson fits into the plan moving forward. The Devils’ handling of the young Swede has been a puzzling case for many, particularly vexing to some Devils fans who’d like to see the talented prospect develop into the type of defenseman anticipated when he was selected fourth overall in the 2011 draft.

Instead, he has struggled to find a consistent spot among the Devils’ regular defensemen.

“I do know there is definitely a value to having a player earn it -- trust me, I know what that is like,” said the 39-year-old Weekes, who spent time in both the AHL and IHL before cracking an NHL roster. “It’s a curious case for me. He obviously has an exceptional ability, he’s built beyond his years, has a good shot, he’s very smart, a good kid, but for some reason the organization isn’t fully buying in on where his game is at.

“He is still young. But he’s good enough to be an everyday regular.”

That will be one of the many storylines to follow come training camp. Peter DeBoer, who signed a contract extension last season, enters his fourth season as head coach. He’ll have some challenges ahead, but with an Eastern Conference that is wide open -- especially compared to the uber-competitive West -- the Devils should have a good chance to make the playoffs this season.

“I think anything is possible in the NHL,” Weekes said, “but especially in the East.”
The New Jersey Devils ranked 27th in the NHL in goals per game (2.4) last season, a key reason they missed the playoffs for the second straight year after a surprise run to the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.

And for years the Devils have had to steel themselves against a parade of top players fleeing the franchise, players like former captain Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk (who walked right into a completely different league in Russia), Paul Martin and Brian Gionta, all of whom exited New Jersey without the Devils getting any return for those assets.

[+] EnlargeMike Cammalleri
Gerry Thomas/NHLI/Getty ImagesBig names usually leave New Jersey, but Mike Cammaleri is coming aboard.
Tuesday, though, the Devils managed to land a good-sized fish in veteran goal-scorer Mike Cammalleri.

Now, the Devils had to overpay Cammalleri both in terms of money and contract length, giving the 32-year-old a five-year deal that will cost the them $5 million annually against the salary cap.

Still, it's a slight decrease from what Cammalleri was making in Calgary, and it’s a fact of life that until the Devils return to contender status it will cost them more to bring in outside free agents.

Cammalleri is an interesting guy and he’ll bring a little more pizzazz to a Devils’ room that also is home to another top character in Jaromir Jagr, who led the Devils with 24 goals and 67 points last season and is back for one more year.

The Devils also added Martin Havlat on Tuesday, signing the winger to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.

Cammalleri had 26 goals in just 63 games last season for a rebuilding Flames, and there's nothing to suggest he can't replicate that production or even see those numbers jump with a Devils team that had the ninth-ranked power play in the NHL.

The Eastern Conference looks pretty fluid (read: mediocre) at this point, and if goalie Cory Schneider remains healthy there's no real reason New Jersey can't get back into the top eight and make the playoffs. If the Devils make the postseason, Cammalleri may truly earn his keep.

Although he hasn’t played in the postseason since 2011, in his last 26 playoff games with Montreal in 2010 and ’11, he collected an impressive 16 goals and 13 assists.

Welcome to Newark, Mr. Cammalleri.

Keeping Pete DeBoer is the right move

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
With the New Jersey Devils’ 2013-14 season officially in the books, questions for next season abound. Will Martin Brodeur return? Whom will the Devils target in free agency? And what will be done to address the team’s miserable shootout failures?

But the coach? That part has been settled.

[+] EnlargePeter DeBoer
AP Photo/Bill KostrounKeeping Pete DeBoer is the right choice for the Devils.
Whether Pete DeBoer received an extension or is returning to New Jersey under the terms of his original contract -- my suspicion is the former -- is moot, really. Lou Lamoriello stepped way out of character Sunday night, summoning media members to inform them that DeBoer would be back next year and squashing any and all speculation that he may bolt for greener pastures.

Earlier in the week, there was conjecture that Toronto was a potential landing spot, with new team president Brendan Shanahan reportedly interested in bringing the Ontario native on to help right a team that just suffered one of the more dramatic collapses in recent years.

Then there were reports Sunday morning that DeBoer was on the verge of an extension.

The point is, Lamoriello kept his guy. And that was the right move.

In bringing DeBoer back, Lamoriello spurned the opportunity to hit the panic button or use his coach as a scapegoat for the team's second consecutive season without a playoff appearance. Instead, he affirmed the DeBoer's system and endorsed his coach to guide the franchise moving forward.

DeBoer has gained a reputation as one of the most cerebral, methodical coaches in the game, one who can coax the most out of very little. He certainly did that this season, juggling an awkward situation in goal while getting his team to compete hard every night despite an utter lack of offense and staggering ineptitude in the shootout.

If not for those factors, the Devils would have been a playoff team. Period.

Look at the Devils’ possession numbers and you see a team that controlled play. The notoriously stingy system the Devils employ allowed them to finish in the top five teams in the league in both Fenwick and Corsi ratings, metrics designed to measure puck possession. New Jersey was the only team in the top five of those rankings not to make the playoffs.

The system works. It’s the personnel that needs tweaking.

Jettisoning the coach, who led the team to the Stanley Cup finals just two years ago, would have been a misstep. And someone else would have surely reaped the benefit.

“I think it’s a great move by Lou,” center Travis Zajac said after Sunday’s season finale. “He’s a really good coach, and I know for a fact if he wouldn’t be back here he’d be somewhere else. When you have a good coach, you don’t want to let him go.”

Well said.

Brodeur showered with support in finale

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13
NEWARK, N.J. -- Technically, it was a meaningless game. Earlier in the week, the New Jersey Devils were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. And the Boston Bruins, who seemingly left half their squad at home, had already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy.

But Sunday’s 3-2 win for the Devils was not meaningless, not for the team, not for the fans and not for goaltender Martin Brodeur, who left the Prudential Center ice with the crowd on its feet in what was very likely his last game as a New Jersey Devil.

The Devils’ fan base hasn’t had much to cheer about lately. Two straight seasons without a playoff appearance. The departure of two star players in consecutive summers. An absolutely maddening 0-for-13 shootout record this season.

[+] EnlargeBrodeur Fan
Andy Marlin/NHLI/Getty ImagesMartin Brodeur received a lot of support from fans at Sunday's season finale.
But the crowd had plenty to cheer about Sunday in recognizing the iconic netminder and his unparalleled contributions to the Devils' organization over the past 21 years.

The fans began with a raucous whoop when Brodeur was announced as the day’s starter. Then, another rowdy outburst when Brodeur stuffed Boston’s Reilly Smith in the first period. They shouted and screamed their approval after his terrific glove save on Alexander Khokhlachev during the third period. And with four minutes remaining in the game, they erupted into spontaneous chants, alternating between “Marty, Marty!” and “Marty’s better!” and finally, “Thank you, Marty.”

Not even a power-play goal surrendered with 16 seconds remaining could spoil the fun. The crowd was back on its feet when the final buzzer sounded. And the love and appreciation and admiration were palpable for the beloved goaltender, who took a final twirl at center ice after his teammates’ urging.

“It was pretty hard,” Brodeur said, admitting he became emotional at the outpouring of support. “These people are my family.”

Those fans were there for him throughout his illustrious career, one that brought three Stanley Cup championships to New Jersey and an amassed 688 wins. Sunday, they were able to thank him for all that he did and all the memories they share.

It was a celebration that was fitting, and well-deserved.

“He’s the best goaltender to ever play the game, hands down,” said teammate Travis Zajac. “People will remember him by his Stanley Cups ... He’ll always be a Devil.”

That means even if Brodeur signs elsewhere this summer, a possibility that seems even more likely after listening to him address his future following Sunday’s 16-save effort in the season finale. Brodeur said he’d be open to returning to New Jersey, though it sounded like he was looking forward to seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Brodeur faced a hard intersection this season, one in which his remarkable history with the team no longer guaranteed a spot in its future. Nostalgia was not enough to solidify his spot as a starter, and so he was relegated to a backup role.

It would be a difficult position for any player to accept, but one so much more painful for a player of his caliber. Brodeur didn’t become the type of player he is -- an irrefutable first-ballot Hall of Famer -- without an insatiable competitive fire.

So, maybe it’s not the worst thing if Brodeur does move on. With his diminished playing time this season, Brodeur has already teetered perilously close to becoming disgruntled. Another year in which he feels marginalized could sour the relationship entirely, forcing a bitter divorce.

Better to leave now rather than risk tarnishing his legacy, and relationship, with the team that became his home.

The Devils defined his career. And he helped define the Devils.

If his last time as a Devil was Sunday, when he was allowed to cherish and savor the shower of appreciation he received from the fans, that will have been a proper exit.

His place in the club’s history is set. And it doesn’t have to change.

“Just excellence,” coach Pete DeBoer said of Brodeur’s career with New Jersey. “Decades of excellence.”

Final farewell for Brodeur?

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
Will Martin Brodeur get a final farewell in front of the New Jersey Devils fans?

With the Devils now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs -- rendering the remaining three games of the season essentially meaningless -- and another pair of matches at home in Newark’s Prudential Center, that would seem to set a stage for Brodeur’s last hurrah as a Devil.

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Andy Marlin/Getty ImagesMartin Brodeur has surrendered the No. 1 goaltending slot to Cory Schneider.
But coach Pete DeBoer was mum about his plans beyond Thursday night.

When asked about the possibility, Brodeur said he hasn’t given it that much thought.

“I might have played my last game here. Who knows?” he told reporters on Thursday. “We’ll see. It’s something we’ll have to talk about.”

The 41-year-old veteran, who has been outspoken and somewhat critical about his long-time club recently, is expected by many to continue playing after the expiry of his current contract with the Devils.

Brodeur told local reporters on Thursday that he plans to explore the market as a free agent this summer. He also admitted that he won’t be surprised if the Devils are not among the list of suitors for his services.

“I don’t expect them to come running after me.” Broduer said.

The future Hall of Famer surrendered the No. 1 job to Cory Schneider with a lackluster performance this season. He was 18-14-5 with a .900 save percentage and 2.54 goals against average for the Devils, who narrowly missed the playoffs just two years after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.

Had they won just half of their shootouts, they’d have had a fighting chance. But that, combined with their goal-starved offense (25th in the league with 2.42 goals per game), put them behind the eight-ball in the Eastern Conference.

Playing Brodeur as much as he did, despite heir apparent Cory Schneider’s seemingly-superior play may also have been a mistake.

Will he be around next year for a similar dilemma?

“Regardless of if I stay or leave," Brodeur said. "The Devils are in unbelievable hands with [Schneider].”

Brodeur's last game as a Devil?

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
Have we seen Martin Brodeur’s last game as a New Jersey Devil?

That seems a very likely possibility after the 41-year-old netminder was yanked from Monday night’s game against the Florida Panthers after he gave up three goals on nine shots.

After the game, New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer called the move a “wake-up call” for his team, and the decision had the desired effect.

Cory Schneider, sent out to replace Brodeur in net, stopped all 13 shots faced from Florida in route to the Devils’ 6-3 win, an absolutely vital victory to keep the Devils’ playoff chances alive.

New Jersey trails the Columbus Blue Jackets by just three points for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining.

Considering the two goaltenders’ play this season, it is not hard to imagine who will be between the pipes for the remainder of the season in New Jersey.

Brodeur, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, will go down as one of the team’s greats and one of the best goaltenders in NHL history. But his time in New Jersey appears to be done, as we were all reminded Monday night when the boo birds appeared in Newark’s Prudential Center.

Bittersweet return to Newark for Parise

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
NEWARK, N.J. -- Almost two years have passed since Zach Parise left New Jersey as an unrestricted free agent to sign with the Minnesota Wild, but the wounds were clearly still fresh for Devils fans when he faced his former club in New Jersey for the first time Thursday night.

The crowd of 14,772 at Prudential Center booed Parise when his name was announced in the Wild’s starting lineup. They preemptively booed him even when he was jabbing at the puck on the first shift of the game.

They booed him every time he touched the puck and did not relent once during the Devils’ 4-3 overtime victory.

[+] EnlargeParise
AP Photo/Bill KostrounZach Parise faced a bunch of booing as he made his return to Prudential Center.
The only time they cheered for him was when he was sent to the penalty box for hooking just 7:33 into play. He got the same treatment when he was stuffed by Devils netminder Cory Schneider on a short-handed breakaway attempt later in the period.

There were signs posted along the corner boards, some worse than others. It was clear Devils fans felt abandoned by the once-revered captain.

Parise was not surprised by the reception. In fact, he anticipated it.

"I was expecting that," he said after the Wild’s overtime loss. "I saw a couple signs that were nice. I was expecting the boos. Once you start playing, you drown them out. You don’t hear them."

Parise still felt like the homecoming was a memorable one. He didn’t deny that there was a different feel to this game. He sensed that upon arriving to his old stomping grounds, where he spent seven seasons, the last of which he served as the team’s captain.

"Some pretty weird feelings pulling up to the rink before the game and playing on this ice again, but it was fun. It was fun to be back," he said. "Unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t what we were planning on, what we had hoped for, but for us to claw back into the game and get a point -- that could be big for us late in the year."

Parise was instrumental in leading the Wild’s comeback, cutting a Devils lead in half with a tip of Ryan Suter’s shot while jostling with Bryce Salvador in front of the net just 21 seconds into the third period.

"The first period, he must have been thinking 'Man, this couldn’t be going any worse.' He takes a penalty, does a great job on the penalty kill and gets a breakaway and doesn’t score," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "To see him get rewarded there in the third, for us, it was great because we know what it meant to him."

The Wild tied the game at three later in the frame to take the game into overtime -- earning a much-needed point given their precarious playoff position in the Western Conference -- but ultimately fell after Devils defenseman Andy Greene’s game winner two minutes into OT.

It was a very Devils-esque win. They controlled much of the game and frustrated the Wild for the majority of play. Parise, who led the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals in the spring of 2012, knows that type of game well.

"That’s the style of hockey they play," he said. "They grind, they grind, they grind. They don’t put the puck in the middle of the ice. They play low-risk hockey."

That low-risk hockey isn’t quite the same without the dynamic firepower the Devils used to possess, however. The team lost Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in consecutive offseasons, leaving fans feeling rightly perturbed. Even franchise goaltender Martin Brodeur said before the game that the Devils should have never let Parise walk.

But he did, making the gut-wrenching decision to sign with his hometown Minnesota Wild and leaving money on the table elsewhere and inking a matching 13-year, $98 million deal with fellow unrestricted free agent, defenseman Ryan Suter. Maybe fans’ ire would best be directed at general manager Lou Lamoriello, as Brodeur not-so-subtly suggested, but they took it out on Parise instead.

"I don’t have any hard feelings towards them. I understand," Parise said. "I wasn’t expecting cheers, so it’s fine."

Parise’s teammate, Matt Moulson, said Parise showed no outward signs of anxiety before the game. Rather, he went about his normal routine and appeared unconcerned. But having just been through an emotional return himself earlier in the week -- facing the New York Islanders on Long Island for the first time since he was unceremoniously shipped out of town to Buffalo -- Moulson could empathize with the mental toll.

"It’s emotional. You spend so many years putting your heart and soul into a team and you have to come back and play against them," said Moulson, who tallied two goals against his old team Tuesday night but was instead cheered by Islanders fans. "Mine was a little different situation but same emotions I think. You pour everything into your team and that becomes your family. It’s a little weird [when you change teams]."

And those ties still appear strong for Parise, because, as much as fans might resent him, he is clearly still beloved by his former teammates. A group of his old New Jersey buddies made its way down to the visitor’s locker room to catch up after what they knew would be a difficult game for him.

Luckily for Parise, who has had this date circled on the calendar for quite some time, it’s finally over.

"You know, I know his time here means a lot. I know what people think of him here means a lot, too," Yeo said. "Obviously, it was a tough decision, a tough move for him. That said, maybe it’s an opportunity for him to -- I don’t want to say move on -- but that’s what we need him to do. Obviously, we’re happy to have him here."

Zach Parise ready for return to New Jersey

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
Zach PariseBruce Kluckhohn/Getty ImagesParise admits he doesn't know what kind of reception to expect from fans at The Rock.
Zach Parise noticed one particular date when he first saw the Minnesota Wild’s 2013-14 schedule. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it wasn’t until March. Midway through the season, he was still able to put the game on the back burner. But now, Parise’s much-anticipated return to New Jersey is right in front of him, with his first game back at Prudential Center against his old New Jersey Devils club on Thursday.

Time to finally face the music.

“I’m excited,” Parise said. “It was a lot of really great memories there and I haven’t been back since. It will be a lot of emotions going through going back to that rink for the first time and everything.”

The 29-year-old Parise, a first-round draft pick (17th overall) by the Devils in 2003, spent the first seven years of his career in New Jersey, where he blossomed into one of the elite forwards in the National Hockey League. He even led the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals in 2012. But after the team’s surprising playoff run that spring, he decided to test free agency and signed with his hometown Minnesota Wild instead of re-signing with the Devils, as many New Jersey fans had hoped. Parise and stud free-agent defenseman Ryan Suter inked matching 13-year, $98 million deals with Minnesota.

Parise hasn’t been back to New Jersey since and doesn’t quite know what to expect from Devils fans in his return Thursday night.

“I’m guessing some mixed reviews,” said Parise, who has 23 goals and 45 points for the Wild this season. “I don’t know, though. I’ve said it before: What’s important to me is how good I was treated when I was there. I understand sports. Fans love their players and their teams and they don’t want to see players leave, but the part I’ll remember most is how good to me when I was there and that’s what matters.”

Parise still keeps in touch with his former teammates. He was planning to get together with a few of them for a low-key dinner Wednesday night. Those friendships won’t ever fizzle for Parise, no matter where he plays. The bond became particularly strong when the Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in '12. Though they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in a six-game series, it was an experience Parise will never forget.

“You develop bonds that you just don’t get when you don’t make it that far,” Parise. “It’s something that, yeah, I’ll always remember.”

His relationship with general manager Lou Lamoriello remains intact, as well. Despite having to make that tough phone call on July 4, 2012, when Parise told Lamoriello of the decision to return home to Minnesota, the two maintain a good relationship. They trade texts occasionally and even an odd phone call here or there. Parise’s wife, Alisha, still keeps in touch with Lamoriello's longtime secretary, Marie.

There is no bad blood between Parise and the organization.

“We have a great relationship,” Parise said of Lamoriello. “I don’t think he holds a grudge or holds anything against me. He understands that’s the way hockey works. We had a good relationship beyond hockey where I would feel comfortable talking to him or calling him or something like that.”

At the time of Parise’s signing, Lamoriello acknowledged that he couldn’t compete with the tug of home. He understood. Parise now gets to see his father, former NHLer J.P. Parise, almost daily. His dad is able to attend morning skates and join Zach for pregame meals, not to mention the time devoted to being an on-site grandpa to Zach's 2-month-old twins (a boy, Jaxson, and a girl, Emelia).

Was coming home as good as he had hoped?

“It’s been better,” he said. “It’s been great.”

Maybe Devils fans will understand that, too. Parise didn’t just chase the dollar signs. In fact, he left significant money on the table to play for Minnesota (Philadelphia made an offer far more lucrative than the one he signed).

Maybe Devils fans won’t understand. But, according to Parise, that’s OK, too.

“People believe what they want to believe. I don’t know. Maybe it made more sense to them since I wanted to go back to Minnesota,” he said. “You never know.”

Henrique named NHL's third star

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique was named the NHL's third star of the week, the league announced Monday.

The 24-year-old center and former Calder Trophy finalist led the league with five goals last week and recorded multigoal performances in back-to-back games this weekend.

Henrique, who has 23 goals and 38 points, is currently riding a six-game goal streak; he has nine goals during that span.

Dallas' Tyler Seguin and Columbus' Artem Anisimov were the respective first and second stars of the week.

Brodeur deal imminent? Not so fast

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
Martin BrodeurAP Photo/Bill KostrounCould Martin Brodeur be on his way to Minnesota?
UPDATE: The Minnesota Wild acquired veteran goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday in exchange for a fourth-round draft selection (click here for the full story). This makes it very unlikely that the Wild would also get Brodeur

With the NHL trade deadline looming, don’t expect any of the speculation surrounding goaltender Martin Brodeur to die down until the clock strikes 3:01 p.m. on Wednesday.

The 41-year-old Brodeur, who is believed to be open to a trade, could be on the move after spending his entire 20-year career with New Jersey.

One report that surfaced Tuesday morning suggested that a deal with the Minnesota Wild may already be in the works, though that seems suspect for one very obvious reason.

While the Wild’s interest in Brodeur is believed to be legitimate -- Minnesota could use some goaltending insurance with Josh Harding’s status unclear -- it is entirely inconceivable that the Devils would let the goalie start Tuesday night against Detroit if a deal was actually in place.

Even if Brodeur wanted some sort of one-game farewell to Devils fans, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello would never run the risk of an injury that could derail the deal.

Though Brodeur appears at least open to the possibility of exploring a trade, it is not immediately known whether Lamoriello would be prepared to part ways with the future Hall of Famer when the time comes.

Lamoriello has previously said he’d take his cues from Brodeur, who would need to waive his no-trade clause for any deal to take place, but perhaps that is easier said than done.

This is not to say that the Wild are not the most logical landing spot for Brodeur. Considering the Wild's positional needs and the fact Brodeur's two teen-aged sons attend prestigious hockey prep school Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, Minn., it makes a lot of sense.

But the idea that a deal has already been agreed on does not.

W2W4: Devils, post-Olympics

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
The Devils return from the 2014 Olympic break with ground to make up in the standings, where they sit three points behind in the race for the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. With seven weeks remaining until the end of the regular season, here are the storylines to watch:

[+] EnlargeMartin Brodeur
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsYou never know -- Martin Brodeur could be dealt to another club.
1. Will the Devils remain in playoff contention?

Currently on the outside looking in, the Devils face a tough task, but it’s not impossible. Though they are seventh in the Metropolitan Division, they trail the Red Wings by only three points for the final playoff spot. New Jersey dropped five of its last seven games to sputter into the Olympics on a sour note, but there’s still plenty of time to gain some traction.

The Devils don’t have a particularly tough schedule the rest of the way, and they have a five-game homestand in March that could be critical to their playoff hopes. General manager Lou Lamoriello has made some solid, underrated moves at the trade deadline in years past to help his team -- not always the sexiest pickups, but shrewd moves nonetheless.

2. Will Martin Brodeur be traded?

In all likelihood, it will have to be Brodeur himself who asks for a trade if he’s going to play anywhere else besides New Jersey, but the 41-year-old netminder has said multiple times this season he’d be open to the idea under the right scenario. With some teams rumored to be interested -- the Wild, to name one -- and Cory Schneider already firmly in place as the heir apparent, Brodeur might be tempted to explore the possibility now.

Brodeur is not going to get many more kicks at the can, so it would be hard to fault him if he wants one more shot at winning with a real playoff contender.

3. How do the veterans fare down the stretch?

Jaromir Jagr has been sensational this season, leading the team in both goals (17) and points (49) -- which is pretty remarkable considering the future Hall of Famer just recently celebrated his 42nd birthday. Fellow Czech veterans Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky have also been vital in providing a large chunk of the Devils' offense.

All three played in Sochi and came back uninjured (Elias did miss time with an illness), but it will be interesting to see exactly how much they have left in the tank. Coach Pete DeBoer is certainly aware of this, and may look for spots to get them extra rest.

Brodeur yanked after barrage of goals

January, 26, 2014
Jan 26
NEW YORK -- What could've been another remarkable chapter in the Hall of Fame career of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur instead became a day he'll want to forget.

Brodeur gave up six goals and was pulled after two periods in the Rangers' 7-3 win Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Brodeur gave up five straight goals after the Devils took a 3-1 lead, but he did not place the blame on himself, instead citing bad luck and excess odd-man rushes.

"Tough game to be a part of," Brodeur said. "You look forward to these kind of events and you have a result like that and it's not that fun."

Despite strong play this season from goalie Cory Schneider, Devils coach Pete DeBoer gave Brodeur the start Sunday to reward him for his contributions to the franchise. Brodeur said Saturday that he hoped to make good memories, but there won't be many for him from this game.

The Rangers sliced their deficit to 3-2 late in the first period when Marc Staal tallied a goal. Brodeur said the puck was going wide but defenseman Marek Zidlicky attempted to kick it, which careened the puck through Brodeur's legs and seemingly galvanized the Rangers.

In the second period, behind what Brodeur estimated to be between seven and nine odd-man rushes, the Rangers had their way with Brodeur. Mats Zuccarello evened the score early on, and the Rangers put three more on the board before the period was finished, the last coming with 29 seconds remaining. The Rangers' go-ahead goal from Zuccarello came on a three-on-one rush, and the fifth goal appeared to deflect off a Devils player.

Brodeuer said the Devils gambled defensively a bit once the game was tied, which helped created offense for the Rangers. "It was not something that we usually do," Brodeur said. "They made us pay the price because we weren't disciplined."

Brodeur dropped to 13-11-4 on the season, finishing with 15 saves. During the second period, with the Rangers rolling, Rangers fans mocked Brodeur with "Mar-Ty!" chants. Brodeur also called the makeshift rink "the worst ice I ever played hockey on."

"Bad luck. Bottom line," Brodeur said. "They threw pucks at net. They kept it real simple and I think four or five of the six goals I got scored on was through our own players, skating in. Just one of those nights."

Before the third period began, Brodeur talked to DeBoer and told him if he wanted to put Schneider in for the experience of playing in a game of this magnitude, he had no issue with that. While the move may have been fueled by Brodeur's performance, DeBoer did make the switch. The Rangers scored once on Schneider, with Derek Stepan cashing in on a penalty shot.

Despite the outcome, Brodeur relished the chance to play in an outdoor game for the first --and perhaps final -- time of his career.

"It was tremendous," Brodeur said. "The whole atmosphere about this event -- the mixed fans in the building, the aura of playing at Yankee Stadium, the whole thing was unbelievable -- beside the hockey game."

Brodeur to start Stadium Series game

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
BrodeurEd Mulholland/-USA TODAY SportsMartin Brodeur gets the nod over Cory Schneider to start in goal at Yankee Stadium.
NEW YORK -- Martin Brodeur will get the start for the New Jersey Devils in Sunday’s heralded Stadium Series game against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Devils coach Pete DeBoer described it as the “right thing to do” for the legendary goaltender and future Hall of Famer.

Is this surprising?

No, not really, especially considering all Brodeur has done for the franchise throughout an illustrious 20-year career, but with the two teams so close in the standings and a critical two points at stake, the choice is still one up for debate.

DeBoer decided to go with Brodeur despite the fact his heir apparent has posted significantly better numbers this season. Though Cory Schneider has a middling 9-9-7 record, he boasts an impressive 1.84 goals-against average and .928 save percentage. He has also held opponents to two goals or fewer in each of his past eight starts. By comparison, Brodeur is 13-10-4, with a 2.36 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

“The tough part is that Cory is on a roll right now, and he’s been almost unbeatable for the last five or six games,” DeBoer said. “So that threw a little bit of a wrench in the thinking, but at the end of the day, this is the right thing to do. And both guys have handled it professionally and Cory understands that.”

The 41-year-old Brodeur has not played since Jan. 18 with the Devils currently riding the hot hand.

“I’m happy to play a game. It’s been a while. It’s been over a week,” Brodeur said after the Devils practice Saturday. “Kind of a little different setting to do it, but it’s exciting.”

Schneider is already well-versed in the delicate dance of two dueling goaltenders from his days in Vancouver, where he split time in net with Roberto Luongo. As such, he was diplomatic when discussing DeBoer’s choice.

“He just pulled me aside and said this has been 20 years in the making for Marty and that it’s a big moment for the organization and would be sort of symbolic of what he’s meant to this team,” Schneider said. “He’s played well all season long.”

Brodeur, who grew up playing hockey on outdoor rinks as a school-aged boy in Montreal, said he was looking forward to the experience. He didn’t expect to get the chance while playing for the Devils, and he will relish the opportunity.

“I’ve watched a lot of them through the years and I never guessed that the Devils would be in one. And here we’re going to play tomorrow,” Brodeur said. “So I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be good memories, hopefully.”

NYC or L.A.? Fellow veteran Jaromir Jagr said if he had the choice of playing an outdoor game in L.A. or New York, he’d choose the sunny California locale, if only to prevent the type of lower-body injury he sustained during the last NHL outdoor game he experienced, against the Rangers in 2012, while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.

“If I had a choice to play here or in L.A., I would probably choose L.A. -- nothing against the Yankees or New York. I think [that way] because I had a bad experience two years ago,” Jagr explained. “I got injured in the first period [of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic] and it was the same weather -- it was pretty cold. And I think it’s a lot tougher for the muscles to get warmed up. And I feel like it would be a lot better for me, for my body, to play in different conditions.”

CeeLo to perform at Stadium Series

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
Artist CeeLo Green will headline the entertainment for the pair of Stadium Series games to be held at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26 and Jan. 29, the NHL announced Friday.

[+] EnlargeCee Lo Green
Steve Mack/NHLI/Getty ImagesCeeLo Green
Other entertainment includes singer-actress Michelle Williams, the cast of Jersey Boys, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, actor Marin Mazzie, Beatles tribute band Strawberry Fields and the NYPD Pipes and Drums.

The NHL takes over Yankee Stadium starting Jan. 26 when the Devils will host the Rangers, and three days later when the Islanders face the Rangers.

Green, who stars on NBC's "The Voice" and is a five-time Grammy Award winner, will perform on Jan. 29 before the game and during the first intermission. Williams will sing the National Anthem that night and Strawberry Fields will perform during the second intermission. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Jersey Boys will perform pregame, and the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, and the NYPD Pipes and Drums will play as the Rangers and Devils are introduced. Mazzie will perform the National Anthem, and Southside Johnny and Asbury Jukes is the first intermission entertainment.

These are the first hockey games Yankee Stadium will host.

"Our goal with the NHL Stadium Series games is to give our fans an unforgettable experience," NHL Executive VP of Events Don Renzulli said in a release. "We’re very excited about the entertainment line-up for our twin bill at Yankee Stadium, which celebrates the City of New York and the entire Metropolitan area, and pays homage to the teams, the venue, and our fans.”

Stadium's hockey makeover continues ...

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
Yankee StadiumMatt Ehalt/ESPNNewYork.comWith remnants of the Pinstripe Bowl remaining, Yankee Stadium was starting to look more like an NHL arena on Saturday.
NEW YORK -- Just eight days before the first Stadium Series matchup between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, Yankee Stadium is starting to resemble a hockey arena.

[+] EnlargeYankee Stadium
Matt Ehalt for ESPNGate 4 gets decked out for hockey.
As of Saturday afternoon, the boards for the rink were being installed and the ice pans had been put down, but the ice had not been made yet. NHL senior manager of facility operations Mike Craig said Wednesday the goal was to start making ice Saturday. The ice pans keep the ice near its ideal temperature of 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

The rink runs horizontally from foul line to foul line in the middle of the field.

The roadway that will allow individuals to walk around the field has been constructed, and three stages were built in the outfield that will be part of the entertainment and setup for the games.

The outfield actually still had the Notre Dame end zone markings visible from the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28. The midfield logo for the game could also be seen. Notre Dame beat Rutgers in that contest, 29-16.

An auxiliary rink near home plate was also in its initial stages as the ice pans were set down. The ice had yet to be placed in that rink, as well.

Workers were busy Saturday getting the Stadium ready for the two games, which also includes the Rangers against the New York Islanders on Jan. 29. Drilling sounds reverberated throughout the Stadium as forklifts were driven around the ballpark. There were piles of boards along the base lines, as well.

Yankee Stadium Matt Ehalt/ESPNNewYork.comThe view of the Stadium from field level shows workers preparing for the Rangers, Devils and Isles.