GATINEAU, Que. - The day before the start of another NHL season, Martin Brodeur found himself in the strange position of being out of work.
He hopes its not a situation he'll be in for long. But despite 21 stellar seasons with the New Jersey Devils that included three Stanley Cup titles and an NHL-record 688 wins, 42 the veteran goaltender knows his time in the NHL may have come to an end.
Still, Brodeur has been keeping in shape this week, training with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Gatineau Olympiques. His son, Anthony, is a goalie on the team.
"It means a lot (to be training with Anthony)," Brodeur said. "This was a great opportunity for me to jump in and have fun with him and see what kind of level he's playing against every day. It's been fun."
Brodeur skated with some of his former Devils teammates last month, but has found it difficult to find any quality ice time since training camp opened. Coming to Gatineau has allowed him to maintain his training and spend quality time with his oldest son.
Last week Brodeur was in Mississauga catching up with younger son Jeremy, who is a goaltender for the Generals of the OHL, and there are plans to visit Jeremy's twin William, a forward at Shattuck-St.Mary's in Minnesota.
Brodeur is thoroughly enjoying having the opportunity to spend more time with his sons, but said it's been strange not being at the rink on a daily basis.
"Since I've been five I've been playing hockey in the fall so it's definitely a little odd," Brodeur said. "At the same time it's not like this is coming out of the blue. This is something I've prepared for. I've asked a lot of questions to my buddies that are retired.
The future doesn't scare me at all."
Brodeur is the NHL's all-time leader in regular season wins, losses, shutouts, and games played, and holds numerous other league and franchise records. A four-time Vezina Trophy winner, Brodeur is the only goalie in NHL history with eight 40-win seasons.
Brodeur believes he still has plenty to offer to a team, but at the same time wants to ensure he finds the right situation.
"I'd love to be on a competitive team, that's for sure," Brodeur said. "If I'm not going to play a lot I'd like to have a chance to win every time I jump between the pipes. There are places I really don't want to go, but there are other places I wouldn't mind going. There will be a couple nice fits out there if it happens."
At this point Brodeur's preference would be to sign with a Western Conference team as the idea of playing against the Devils seems almost too odd to comprehend.
Brodeur would have liked to have already signed with a team, but understands organizations likely want to get a good look at younger prospects.
"Hopefully I'll have an opportunity but if it doesn't happen it's not the end of the world," Brodeur said. "I've played a lot of hockey and I'm enjoying my time off right now. I've never done that in my life so it's kind of nice to do, but just coming back and playing hockey for two days I know I still have it and it's still inside of me to want to play a little more if I can."
Waiting around isn't ideal, but Brodeur is content to wait a few weeks to gauge interest before having to make any kind of final decision on his future.
Should the end be inevitable, Brodeur says he's in a good enough place to accept it mentally and emotionally.
Brodeur was a little coy when asked what a future without hockey could entail.
First and foremost would be to spend additional time with his children and taking advantage of being able to travel to watch them play.
"During the hockey season for eight months of the year you're told what to do," said Brodeur. "It would be kind of nice to say hey this weekend I'm going to go see Anthony, next weekend I'm going to go here without thinking about it or I need to be back because of this or that. I've been on so much of a schedule all my life that this is kind of fun."
Professionally, Brodeur would like to remain in the game in some capacity and it would be no surprise to see him take on a role with the Devils. Brodeur said he couldn't imagine himself working for any other organization.
"The conversation I had with (general manager) Lou (Lamoriello) about my future was all about I'm going to need some time here," Brodeur said. "I might want to do something, but I don't know how much I want to do. Not because I don't want to work, but I want to enjoy what I missed out on for so many years."
Never one to shy away from cameras, Brodeur could have a future with one of the NHL's French broadcast partners.
"It's not something I'd like to be my future," Brodeur said. "I'd like to kill time with it, have fun with it, but this is not what I would like to do as a permanent basis, but again maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this is what my calling is going to be."