There may not be a more underappreciated athlete in the history of sports than Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. He's backstopped the team to three Stanley Cups, won four Vezina Trophies and may be the greatest goaltender in the history of hockey. Despite all that, he'd be stopped less often than any other celebrity on any street in New York or New Jersey.
Perhaps the reason is that Brodeur's been so great for so long that people take him for granted. The Devils are going to learn just how much he's meant to the team over the next three or four months, however. Brodeur needs surgery to repair the distal bicep in his left elbow after injuring the joint during Saturday's 6-1 rout of the Atlanta Thrashers. Kevin Weekes will step up into the starting role during Brodeur's absence.
The injury may mean that Brodeur will have to wait until next season to pass Patrick Roy and Terry Sawchuck for first place on the all-time wins and shutout lists, respectively. It could also mean that the Devils will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-96 season. The Devils are off to a 6-3-2 start but have outscored their opponents by just four goals over that span. Brodeur had played every minute of the season before his injury and the Devils lost 2-0 last night in their first outing without him.
Without Brodeur to clean up mistakes, in other words, the low scoring Devils may find it very hard to keep their place among the top eight in the Eastern Conference. If a missed spot in the dance is a result of Brodeur's injury, it may serve to finally help him get the recognition he deserves for his marvelous career.