As evidence of that, last week they figured prominently in an episode of Seinfeld. In the show Elaine wondered about a boyfriend who painted his face red-and-green in support of his team, the Devils. The guy also wore an official New Jersey jersey—number 30, of course, with BRODEUR on the back. It was not a bad bit of publicity for a player who had just turned 23 and had spent his brief career on a team that does little to promote him.
Brodeur has been the lowest-paid goaltender ($140,000) in the NHL for the last two seasons, and at times his negotiations with Devil general manager Lou Lamoriello have been testy. Last fall Brodeur asked for $1.4 million a year, the average of the top 10 goaltenders in the league, but according to the goalie, Lamoriello balked, offering a reported $750,000. After the lockout Brodeur went into the season still under his original contract, making the same money he made a year ago, and proceeded to prove that he was no first-year fluke. He went 19-11-6 with three shutouts and a 2.44 goals-against average. His negotiations with Lamoriello resumed before the playoffs, and Brodeur says New Jersey finally came close to his asking price of last fall.
It was, of course, too late by then. The price had gone up, to at least $1.75 million. In the meantime he could be a Group II free agent at the conclusion of the season. He could sign with another club, but the Devils would retain the right to match the offer. "I would like to stay here next year," he said Sunday night, "but I know it's business. I'll do what I have to do."
Brodeur would like to finish his business this season with his hands on the Cup. Maybe that will happen in a month or so, after three more series, each one more intense and grueling than the last. It is a lot to ask of the lowest-paid goalie in the league, to bring home the chalice, but Brodeur seems to enjoy the challenge. In fact, if you look closely through the bars in his mask, you might even see a little twinkle in his eyes.
"Sometimes people worry too much about the pressure in the big games," said Brodeur. "I just go out and try to enjoy it as much as possible. We just closed out Boston Garden. Now that's a really great feeling."
It's also a pretty good start. One series down, three to go. He made history in Boston last week. He wouldn't mind making a little more before he goes home.
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