Let's face it: Martin Brodeur is entering the twilight of his career. He has put up spectacular numbers over the past five years, but, at this point, it is safe to say that many would not consider Marty the team's best talent, ceding that role to Parise or Kovalchuk.
But, with Brodeur's contract set to end after 2011-2012, and with a possible work stoppage on the horizon, it would not be unreasonable to assume that Brodeur would retire if the labor situation does not resolve itself and there is a lockout.
This is why the next two years could be the last opportunity for the Devils to send Marty into the sunset with a 4th Stanley Cup.
For one perspective the Devils are in the best possible situation to deliver a cup to Marty. They appear to have the offense to back up a stingy defense and should be able to secure a postseason birth and have the ability to make a deep playoff run.
Yet from another perspective, even if the team makes the playoffs, the next two years are uncertain for the Devils. With Maclean entering his first season behind the bench, it is unknown whether Johnny will be able to handle the pressure of being a coach on the NHL level. We saw an experienced coach in Lemaire have trouble controlling his core players last year and when the calendar turns to February and March, I would hate to see a third straight late season slump leaving fans uneasy as the first round begins.
Many argue that Martin will receive more days off this year, but people assume that Hedberg will play well enough to warrant the type of minutes that allows Brodeur to only play 60 games this year.
Hedberg is also a goalie that, like Marty, is old and has the possibility of blowing up in front of our eyes. If this was to happen, with the tight cap situation, I could still see Brodeur playing 70+ games this year and again leaving the playoffs early.
Regardless of whether or not Brodeur does retire at the end of 2011-2012, one thing is for sure, 3 cups has certainly been enough, but is there room for one more to cap off the career of the greatest goaltender ever?