-- Fred Brathwaite
hasn't faced an NHL team since he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets
in 2004. Six years later and a continent away, the 37-year-old goaltender will get another chance.
Brathwaite will be between the pipes for Adler Mannheim in their exhibition contest against the San Jose Sharks
on Saturday. The game can be seen live on NHL.com at 1:30 p.m. ET.
"I know I'm up there with age, but I still have that dream where I want to go back and play if I could. I know I'm a little bit older, but if I could even get a tryout or something somewhere just to try to get out there one more time, that would be great for me."
-- Fred Brathwaite
Since leaving the NHL, Brathwaite has been quite the world traveler. He spent two seasons in Russia with Kazan Ak-Bars, came back to North America with the AHL's Chicago Wolves for two seasons, and for the past three seasons, he has called Mannheim home.
"It's great. They treat us very well," Brathwaite said. "They have owners like we have here, it's just like playing back home. They have a great facility here. It's nice. I'm enjoying it. It's pretty much like a North American team because everyone speaks English. It feels a lot like home."
When asked if he misses the NHL at all, Brathwaite gave an honest answer.
"I do," he said. "I know I'm up there with age, but I still have that dream where I want to go back and play if I could. I know I'm a little bit older, but if I could even get a tryout or something somewhere just to try to get out there one more time, that would be great for me."
No one ever is going to confuse the DEL with the NHL, but Brathwaite has shown he still has plenty of gas left in his tank.
In his first year with Adler Mannheim, Brathwaite was named the league's MVP. He won 27 games (in a 51-game schedule), posted six shutouts and led the league in goals-against average (2.37) and save percentage (.925). In 10 games this season, Brathwaite leads the league with a 1.56 GAA and .953 save percentage.
Brathwaite chalks it up to the confidence he's developed while playing on a regular basis.
"When you back up, you know you're only playing once every two weeks, three weeks," he said. "And even if you do play well, more or less you're just giving your starter a rest. There's a lot less pressure when you play on an every-day basis. Also, our team's playing pretty well in front of me. Yeah, I get quite a bit of shots, but a lot of them are from the outside. Our guys are doing a good job in front of me."
Despite the MVP award and the added notoriety he has in Germany, Brathwaite said he's not like Patrick Roy
walking around Quebec City when he takes a stroll around Mannheim.
"Hockey is pretty big and I guess people might know me in the hockey world, but soccer is still the biggest sport here," said Brathwaite, who splits his time between Mannheim and Ottawa during the year. "For me, it hasn't really changed. I'm still the same person. I still enjoy the game and try to have fun. It's nice to play on a regular basis."
As much as Brathwaite still believes he can contribute to an NHL team, he's not looking at Saturday's game against the Sharks as his chance to shake his fist at the League and say, "I told you so." Brathwaite will play the first 30 minutes before giving way to teammate Lukas Lang.
"Obviously I want to do well," Brathwaite said. "I hope to make a good impression, but hopefully that's not going to be my judgment of 30 minutes to show if I can still play or can't play. Yeah, it'd be nice to have a good outing, but it's also for us a fun opportunity. We get to play against a team like San Jose. That's a high-profile team. When you're in the NHL and you play against San Jose, you want to play well."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo