ST. LOUIS - For the first time in his 21-year NHL career, Martin Brodeur skated out for practice wearing a color other than red and white.
“The first puck I signed said 'St. Louis Blues,'” Brodeur said Friday. “I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to sign it or not. I’ve got to get used to this quickly, I think.”
Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time leader in wins (688) and shutouts (124), has joined the Blues for practice for the next week or so as the team deals with an injury to starter Brian Elliott.
Elliott has been labeled week-to-week with a lower-body injury, and without experienced goalie depth, Blues GM Doug Armstrong felt he could reach out to Brodeur, who is without a team after the New Jersey Devils opted not to re-sign the 42-year-old goaltender in the offseason.
“He wants to play,” Armstrong said Friday morning. “We’re very comfortable with Jake (Allen) and Brian (Elliott), but we don’t have experienced depth in our organization. Any short-term injury, a game or two, I think I’d be very comfortable with (Jordan) Binnington. But when we saw it was going to be an extended period of time, we went this way.
“Marty still has the desire to compete and his resume speaks for itself,” Armstrong added. “It seemed like an easy solution.”
When it became apparent that Brodeur wouldn’t re-sign in New Jersey, he began looking at other options.
St. Louis was one of the them.
“St. Louis was one of the teams that was real interesting for me, specifically with (Hitchcock) being the coach and being familiar with him,” Brodeur said. “The opportunity wasn’t there in the summer, wasn’t there early, wasn’t there three days ago. It just happened.
“I’m definitely looking forward to this challenge to see where it’s going to bring us.”
A four-time Vezina Trophy winner and a three-time Stanley Cup champion, Brodeur will be evaluated by the Blues management during team practices on Monday and Tuesday. Depending on that evaluation and the length of time Elliott will be sidelined, the Blues might choose to sign Brodeur to a contract before next week's road trip to Chicago, Nashville and Long Island.
Brodeur, who has accomplished nearly everything there is to accomplish in the game, said he still has that fire to play.
“I don’t feel I have closure as far as the sport is concerned,” he said. “I enjoy playing the game, I enjoy being around the guys. When you get older, you appreciate kids coming up, having success and seeing their career take off. When you’re a part of that, it’s fun.
“Now, it’s different challenge. It’s nice to see the kids out there, how good, how skilled they are. But everybody needs guidance. Hopefully if I stay here, I’ll be able to provide them some of the experience I’ve had throughout my career.”
Brodeur also said he’s here to help, not derail any plans the Blues have between the pipes.
“If it means signing me and keeping me around for awhile, that’d be great,” he said. “I know Brian Elliott and Jake Allen have been doing a great job. I’m not here to disturb anything with what’s going on here. They’re having a great season so far.”