Martin Brodeur staying with Devils
Martin Brodeur is staying put.
The NHL's all-time winningest goalie agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal with the only team he's ever played for, the New Jersey Devils.
A few hours later, his backup, Johan Hedberg also chose to stay with his own two-year deal.
"I'm really happy," Brodeur told ESPN.com on Monday morning. "Deep down what I always wanted was to re-sign with New Jersey. I'm glad the Devils stepped up when they did. As the process went on I was certainly intrigued by what was out there. But this is really what I wanted."
Sources indicate Brodeur had two-year offers on the table from at least two other teams. That put pressure on the Devils to up their offer from one year to two years.
Brodeur said the key to the deal was the Devils' eventual willingness to give him the extra year. Adding to the length of the contract was more important than the money because of the potential of a lockout this upcoming season. Two years provides stability and the assurance that he will have somewhere to play.
"Circumstances happen sometimes in life that I can't control, and I can't say it won't happen again, but I am happy, and two years seems appropriate for me maybe to leave the game at that time," Brodeur said in a conference call Monday afternoon. "But I am not 100 percent sure. Again, we'll how I feel and how well I am able to play."
Brodeur hit the free-agent market for the first time in his career last week, unable to bridge the gap with the Devils, a club plagued by ownership issues.
"It was certainly interesting to go through. It was really helpful to have Pat helping, that's for sure. It was stressful. I had a headache by the end of it," Brodeur told ESPN.com, laughing.
Brodeur said he was flooded with text messages and calls from friends saying they couldn't imagine him playing for another team.
No need to worry now.
The Devils came up with the two-year offer late Sunday, Brodeur told ESPN.com earlier Monday.
"It was great the Devils stepped up," Brodeur said. "You have to understand what's happening obviously with the ownership situation and with what's happening with Zach (Parise). I understood that. I'm just happy this got done."
Brodeur has led the Devils to three Stanley Cups and two other finals, including a loss to the Los Angeles Kings in six games this past season. After missing the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 1996, New Jersey responded by snaring the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and defeated the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers to advance to the finals.
Brodeur posted a 31-21-4 record in the regular season with three shutouts and a .908 save percentage. He played even better in the postseason, recording a 14-9 mark with a 2.12 goals against average and a .913 save percentage in leading New Jersey to its first Eastern Conference title since 2003. He has posted a 656-371-105 record with the Devils, winning Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
Hedberg, regarded as one of the best backups in the league, spent the past two seasons with New Jersey. He was 17-7-2 with a 2.22 GAA and .918 save percentage this past season.
The 39-year-old Swede, a 1994 draft choice of Philadelphia, has a career mark of 155-133-33 with 21 shutouts and a 2.83 GAA in 354 games over 10 NHL seasons. He played for Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Dallas and Atlanta before finding a home with New Jersey.
Hedberg will receive $1.4 million in each of the two seasons, and his and Brodeur's deals feature no-trade clauses.
"We'll definitely bring stability to the back end," Brodeur said on the conference call. "We've done that for the last year and a half, two years. It's nice to be able to count on somebody to be able to play well and that helped me to be fresh on the back end of the season. It's a nice setup."
With the goaltending situation settled, the Devils turned their focus to Parise. The Devils captain is the top free agent on the market, and he told reporters Sunday that he may make a decision Monday. Parise was named captain before last season by new coach Peter DeBoer, and he delivered 31 goals and 69 points in that role.
Parise deserves everything he can get in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Brodeur said.
"I wasn't that much biased yesterday afternoon, but now I am a lot more for him to come back," Brodeur quipped during the conference call, adding that Parise has indicated that the Devils are in the mix on his short list.
"By no means," Brodeur said, "is he not considering coming back."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Katie Strang and The Associated Press contributed to this report.