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Injury sidelines Brodeur 3-4 months

by Dan Rosen
Patrick Roy's record is safe for now.

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur will undergo surgery Thursday morning to repair the distal bicep in his left elbow, a tendon that Brodeur said completely tore off the bone of the elbow.

Devils General Manager/CEO/President Lou Lamoriello told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the veteran goalie would miss the next 3-4 months, but should return completely healthy for the end of the regular season.

Brodeur remains 7 wins shy of tying Roy on the all-time wins list and 5 shutouts short of tying Terry Sawchuk's record for the most shutouts. Four months from Thursday is March 5. The Devils would have 18 games remaining if he's back by then.

"I don't know if it's because I'm in shock a little bit, but I don't feel too bad," Brodeur said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "It's something I didn't see coming, but I understand the whole process of it. We didn't make a decision on it right away. We made sure we saw a few doctors and did our homework for the surgery that will be done."

In layman's terms it's the kind of injury that could result from lifting a heavy box or trying to force open a window.

"I'm excited that we know what it is and getting the process going," he said. "It's an unfortunate situation for me and for my team, but it is what it is and I can't do much about it. My spirits are pretty good. I might as well stay positive. It's not something that will affect my career at all."

Kevin Weekes, who replaced Brodeur Saturday night in a 6-1 win over Atlanta and started Monday in a 2-0 loss to Buffalo, assumes the starting job. Scott Clemmensen remains as the backup for now.

Ironically, Weekes required surgery this summer to repair a similar type of injury, but Brodeur said his surgery will be different because Weekes' tendon was only partially torn from the elbow whereas he has a complete tear.

"I hope so," Brodeur said when asked if the Devils can make the playoffs without him in net for the bulk of the season. "It's a question that will be answered in the next few months. I'm really confident, especially in the way that we have been playing. Kevin is a great goalie. He proved it in the past and now he has a chance to do it over again playing in front of a good team. I don't see why not, but the future will tell us."

Brodeur injured his elbow in Saturday night's 6-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. He came out of the game 6:38 into the second period, clutching his elbow in obvious pain. At the time, the Devils said he suffered a bruise.

"The guy missed the net and I extended my arm real quick and felt a pop, a stabbing kind of feeling in my biceps and from then I knew something was wrong," Brodeur said.

Brodeur said he was optimistic that night because there was no swelling or discoloration in his elbow. He did experience some pain trying to move his wrist.

"I continued to play for a good minute after (the injury occurred)," Brodeur said. "I took my arm and tried to move it up a little bit and I knew it was damaged, something was wrong with it. When I left the ice and went into the locker room, there was not much swelling or cramping or pain. I just had a hard time moving my wrist and that's not a good sign. The doctors were there right away to look at it. I hoped nothing was wrong until we had the tests and the doctors told me I needed surgery."

Brodeur said he saw multiple specialists before deciding on having the surgery. He said he is not in any pain, which is "the worst part and that's why it took us a while to make the decision to verify with all the specialists we saw in the last couple of days.

"We wanted to make sure I needed surgery," Brodeur later added. "I didn't want to have the surgery if I didn't need to, but they feel it's the best for what I have."

Even though this injury has happened to both Devils goalies, some former goalies told it is not common for people that play the position.

"Certainly it's not a common injury," Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland said. "I don't know who else has ever had one."

"I have been in this 18 years and I have not seen that other than those two (Weekes and Brodeur)," Nashville Predators goalie coach Mitch Korn said. "I even thought Weekes' injury was bizarre when I heard it. I have to believe that just happens to be circumstance between the 2, coincidence unless there is 1 exercise they are doing in the weight room that has an impact on it. I don't see anything on the ice that would have an impact on it because they're both so different. That's really weird."

John Vanbiesbrouck was stunned when told the final diagnosis, but said it most likely has to do with wear and tear, especially because it didn't appear that Brodeur was hit on the play that resulted in the injury.

"It was a self-induced type of thing, so who knows the stress that was on it at the time?" Vanbiesbrouck said. "Wow, that's a shame. I haven't heard of other goalies having bicep tendon tears. It's highly unusual.

"You gave me news by mentioning Kevin Weekes. I never heard of it before."

Added Brodeur: "It's shocking. You expect my knee or my groin or my stomach, something I use for a goalie. I didn't think it would be a biceps. It's such a freak accident. That's why I'm shocked. It's not something I expect to hurt."

Ron Hextall, who is now the Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings, said goalies mostly suffer from lower body injuries and occasionally a shoulder. He, too, had never heard of any other goalie with a biceps tear.

"Somehow (the Devils) seem to find a way to fight through injuries," Hextall said, "but this one will be a test."

"Hopefully I'll come back healthy and with enough games to be able to reach it this season. Right now it's way outside my thinking process. I'm excited to be so close and I know it's a hard thing to do. It just proves you have to be healthy to do it. It's not something I saw coming, but it is what it is and you have to deal with it."
-- Martin Brodeur

Prior to Monday, Brodeur had started in 56 straight games, including the playoffs, dating back to Jan. 5. The last time Brodeur missed any extended time due to injury was in November of 2005 when he sat out 6 games with a knee injury.

It remains the longest layoff of his career due to injury, but clearly Brodeur will be out for significantly longer this time.

"Who knows how I'm going to respond to everything?" Brodeur said. "The rehab is pretty simple. It's getting the surgery done and getting it immobilized for a while and then you start working toward getting it better. It'll be maybe 8 weeks before I start making some movements to rehab and get some strength. After that it depends how everything responds. They seem to be confident in knowing when I'll be back and it's not something that will recur at all."

Brodeur has played in at least 70 games in each of the last 10 seasons and has won more than 40 games in each of the last 3 seasons. He is 6-2-2 with 2 shutouts and a 2.16 goals against average this season.

He was hoping to break Roy's record early this season because he didn't want it to become a distraction to the team.

"Hopefully I'll come back healthy and with enough games to be able to reach it this season," Brodeur said. "Right now it's way outside my thinking process. I'm excited to be so close and I know it's a hard thing to do. It just proves you have to be healthy to do it. It's not something I saw coming, but it is what it is and you have to deal with it."

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