After seeing the news that Curtis Joseph retired as the winningest goaltender NOT to win the Stanley Cup and also witnessing Marty's stellar performance at MSG against the Rangers, I got reminiscent. Many of you know that Joseph could have been a Devil. . . which would have put question marks as to what the Devils would have done with Brodeur.
So a timeline may be in order.
Brodeur was drafted by the Devils in the 1st round of the 1990 Draft.
A year later, in the summer of 1991, the St. Louis Blues signed Brendan Shanahan away from the Devils. I never knew how political it was and this blogger has an interesting, take on it. Lou asked for Scott Stevens as compensation for Shanahan, the Blues wanted to give Rod Brind'Amour, Joseph and a couple draft picks. Looking at that it appears the Devils would have been winners either way . . . what the Blues offered wasn't shabby at all. But it is funny how political this was. I guess the Blues committed a "no no" by signing Stevens who was a RFA away from the Capitals the year before. So when the Blues did the same exact thing the following summer, it seems the league was trying to send a message to the Blues. Lou knew that the judge would probably side with the Devils, so he went for Stevens. Somewhere too I read how this case would somehow indirectly lead to the 1995 strike as well.
Can you think of how different the Devils' future would have been if it were not for judge Edward J. Houston's decision? We all comment on the importance of getting Scott Stevens to the Devils' organization. Greg Wyshynski (before he became Mr. Puck Daddy) commented on this here. But there are more stories here. Supposedly Judge Houston died in 2003, but I have not been able to find additional information on him ANYWHERE. If I were to say this man's decision affected all of us, that would be an understatement. The least I could do is leave a wreath of thanks on his grave. But besides Stevens, consider how this decision may have affected Brodeur's future with the Devils.
Had the Devils gotten Brind'Amour and Joseph, my guesses are that Brind'Amour would have stayed with the Devils for a while. Joseph would probably have revealed himself to be starter-worthy and may have split time with Chris Terreri. Or maybe not, and could have been sent to Utica or traded (who knows?) Remember Joseph would have filled an immediate void, considering Sean Burke sat out the next season with a contract dispute. Craig Billington might never have been given the opportunity to be Terreri's backup and might have stayed in Utica. Now Marty was still playing Juniors, but by the end of the 1991-92 season he was called up to play 4 games (because of injuries I think). I fondly remember sitting next to his brother and father at the game with my dad during his 2nd game ever vs. Quebec. (I heard them speaking French and was eager to chime in, being in French II class). Does Marty get called up that year if not for Judge Houston's decision? I think I can confidently say, No.
The Devils would have been goalie heavy. They had Burke's contract, the had Terreri, Billington, Brodeur and would have had Joseph. Could Brodeur have been packaged one of those goalies in a trade? Or was Lou so high on him by that point that it would not have been fathomable (Or was it only after those 4 games in 1991-92 that he thought that)? Curtis Joseph was relatively young and could have been deemed as the Devils' future in goal. Regardless, the Devils could not have conceivably had Joseph, Billington, Terreri, Burke and Joseph (with a young Brodeur).
And of course, they never would have had Stevens. Here is a good article after Brett Hull's number was retired in St. Louis on how so many ex-Blues' stars seemed to win the Cup in other places: Shanahan, Stevens, Hull, Brind'Amour, and Pronger. Could the Devils have traded of one of the extra goalies in addition to Burke (Joseph, Billington, Terreri or Brodeur) to get another marquee player? Absolutely. I'm sure you could think of teams in 1992 who would have needed a goalie and now look at their rosters to speculate who the Devils would have added. And this player, along with Brind'Amour - would it have lead to the Cups? Who knows?
It is true that Judge Houston's decision gave us Scott Stevens. But it probably also changed the future of Martin Brodeur. Things could have turned out the same and perhaps I'm trying to add drama where in reality it doesn't exist. But if you look deeply into what could have been, it becomes apparent that wherever he sits buried today, I would like to thank Judge Edward J. Houston of Ottawa. One man's decision undoubtedly changed all of our futures for the better. It is sad that Joseph went his whole career without winning a Cup, but I am glad things turned out the way they did.