It wasn't long ago that former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko felt bitter toward Martin Brodeur, his close friend and former teammate.
"I was just like, 'Just retire a Devil and end it here,'" Daneyko said. "But that was selfish."
Daneyko, like so many Devils fans, couldn't fathom Brodeur leaving New Jersey after the Devils didn't offer him a contract following the 2013-14 season. He felt that Brodeur, much like himself, gave his heart and soul to the franchise and would never and could never wear the colors of another.
And then Brodeur, who won an NHL record 688 games with the Devils, did the unthinkable by signing with the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 2, 2014. He put a blue note on his chest and played seven more games in the NHL, seven games that had nothing to do with the Devils.
Daneyko was angry, mainly because he couldn't understand Brodeur's motivation.
He does now.
The Devils will retire Brodeur's No. 30 before a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET; MSG, SN, NHL.TV), and Daneyko says he gained perspective in Brodeur's decision after taking time to analyze why he did what he did..
"When I took a step back and tried to get into the mind of one of the greats, I understood that he's got to go out on his terms," Daneyko said. "What made him great was believing in himself and he wanted to go out on his own terms. He got another opportunity. Marty wanted to make sure. He was happy about that so I was happy for him."
Brodeur played seven games with the Blues, winning three of them, before officially announcing his retirement in St. Louis, without any Devils representation, on Jan. 29, 2015.
He was immediately hired as a senior advisor to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and was promoted to assistant general manager on May 20.
"He got want he wanted," Daneyko said. "Everybody says, 'Why didn't it just happen in Jersey, why didn't he become management here?' I'm not to judge that. That's the way things go and it turned out the way Marty wanted it. He wanted to make sure and that's what the stars do. So he went and played seven games to maybe chase that elusive 700 wins. He always strived for one more, but that's what made him great, his motivation, drive and pride. Now, when it's all said and done and you take a step back and understand it a little bit, I get it now. I didn't right out of the gate.
"Who knows what the future holds, whether he's back here one day, that's a possibility, too. But it turned out nice for him."
For the Devils too, Daneyko said, because of the emergence of goalie Cory Schneider, New Jersey's representative in the All-Star Game this season.
"I respect Cory for the way he handled it because he had the utmost respect for Marty," Daneyko said. "He's such a professional. When you believe in yourself, you've got to do what's right for you, but I thought it was handled real well for the most part. How do you come in and replace the guy who is loved by every Devils fan, the favorite Devil, the prodigal son? That had to be some pressure. I would imagine it would have been a lot more difficult if he came in and didn't become what he's become here. He's not Marty Brodeur yet, he's got a long way to go, but he's doing a heck of a job. He's good."