Martin Brodeur to retire, join Blues front office

Opponents and former teammates were both happy and sad to see one of the game's greats finally hang up his skates.

Martin Brodeur’s playing career is over and he’s staying put with the St. Louis Blues. For now, anyway.

As first reported by Sportsnet, the NHL’s all-time winningest goalie has decided to accept a front-office role in the Blues organization.

Brodeur joined the team following an injury to Brian Elliott in late November and went 3-3-0 in the only NHL games he ever played outside of the New Jersey Devils organization.

He became the odd-man out when Elliott returned earlier this month to reform a tandem with Jake Allen.

Brodeur then took a leave of absence to ponder his future. While he had a standing offer to join the Devils front office, he wanted to show some loyalty to the Blues after they gave him a chance to extend his playing career.

"He could have come here if he wanted," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told Rich Chere of NJ Advance Media on Tuesday. "I don't think this is a case of him choosing (between the two organizations). He's been there with the players. The players and administration asked him to stay. He had an impact in that dressing room.

"He's going to be travelling with the team and staying with the team. It keeps him as close to playing for the rest of this year as he can get. He's doing this because he made that commitment there this year. There is no disrespect (to the Devils) whatsoever."

Brodeur spent 24 years with the Devils and raised some eyeballs by starting the next phase of his career in St. Louis. However, it is believed that he'll eventually make the transition back to New Jersey.

The 42-year-old hangs up his pads with eye-popping numbers, including the most wins (691), shutouts (125), games played (1,266) and saves (28,928) in NHL history. He also won three Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and the Vezina Trophy on four occasions.

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Brodeur will become eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, when he will almost certainly gain entrance on the first ballot.

News of his retirement spread quickly through NHL dressing rooms Tuesday. An official press conference to discuss the decision is planned for Thursday morning in St. Louis.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson, a former teammate in New Jersey who remains close friends with Brodeur, said the goaltender's biggest impact in hockey was arguably on the huge number of players he positively affected within that organization.

"He took care of me when I came into the league," Clarkson said. "(What stands out) is how hard he worked in practice. He was one of those guys that pushed us to be better."

Those talents should serve him well in a front-office role.

"He was always a smart hockey guy," Clarkson said. "I'm not surprised. He knows a lot about the game and he's done quite a bit in the game, and you've seen players like do well in those jobs."