|Binghamton callup Mike Brodeur made the most of his three appearances in the NHL in 2009-10, including a season-turning shutout of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch to suggest he saved the Ottawa Senators' season.
But make no mistake about it. When the Senators needed him most, Mike Brodeur answered the call big time with a road shutout of the New York Rangers on Jan. 14, which ignited the 11-game winning streak that went a long way toward propelling Ottawa to an eventual playoff berth.
It's that kind of calm under fire that led team management to believe Brodeur is a guy they'd like to keep in the organization. The Senators made it official earlier today, announcing they'd signed the 27-year-old goaltender to a one-year, two-way contract. The term matches the deal he signed with Ottawa last summer.
"I'm part of a Canadian organization again, which is always a Canadian player's dream," Brodeur said earlier today from his Calgary home. "To get the contract done early is fantastic. I couldn't be more happy right now."
Brodeur is expected to start the 2010-11 season with the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., joining hot prospect Robin Lehner
in what should be a top-notch goaltending tandem on the farm.
"We're very happy to have him back," Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray said of Brodeur. "He spent some time here and made some NHL money here, and I guess he felt he was treated very well. He looks at our depth and with Robin Lehner
, a 19-year-old rookie goalie, going to Binghamton, Mike has a real good chance to be the third goalie in the organization to start the year."
"I want to do what I did last year, but hopefully get a few more games at the NHL level. If not, I’d like to maybe win a Calder Cup down in the (AHL). I’d like to be successful at either level. I’m pretty positive that we’re going to have a pretty strong team down in Binghamton. With the coaching staff we have down there, it should be a positive season." - Mike Brodeur
He won't soon forget the two big wins he earned in New York and Montreal to kickstart the Senators' season-turning winning streak. Brodeur was pressed into duty on an emergency basis when both Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott were unavailable because of injury and illness, respectively. Leclaire went down during the morning skate on the day of the Rangers game, making for a rushed trip to the Big Apple for Brodeur.
"To come in at that time and have all those nerves and everything going and all the weight on your shoulders and to come out on top ... that's part of the position we play," he said. "But that's why it's such a great position. The pressure ... that's why we play."
The Senators believe they could gain even more down the road from Brodeur, who produced a 3-0-0 record and a 1.00 goals-against average last season. It's also worth noting that Leclaire and Elliott are both entering the final years of their contracts, with the former currently scheduled for unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2011.
"He's still young and I think he's still scratching the surface (of his potential)," said Murray, who oversees the Senators' top prospects in Binghamton. "Goalies are late-blooming athletes and I think Mike has a chance this year to show us or other teams that he deserves a one-way contract going forward and we’re going to let him prove that. If we need a goalie to come up here, we’re happy with Mike and we’re confident in Mike.
"There are other American league goalies that you can sign that you might not be confident in as your third guy, but they do a good job down there. But I think Mike contributes in both those areas. He’s a strong No. 1 goalie in the American league and he’s a good depth goalie and he can play games up here. That’s a huge worry, that we get the right guy down there, and we know Mike is the right guy there."
In Brodeur's mind, the sky is the limit, whether it's in Binghamton or Ottawa.
"He's still young and I think he's still scratching the surface (of his potential). Goalies are late-blooming athletes and I think Mike has a chance this year to show us or other teams that he deserves a one-way contract going forward and we’re going to let him prove that. If we need a goalie to come up here, we’re happy with Mike and we’re confident in Mike." - Tim Murray
"I want to do what I did last year, but hopefully get a few more games at the NHL level," he said. "If not, I’d like to maybe win a Calder Cup down in the (AHL). I’d like to be successful at either level. I’m pretty positive that we’re going to have a pretty strong team down in Binghamton. With the coaching staff we have down there, it should be a positive season."
Brodeur's presence could be especially crucial for a Binghamton team that Murray expects to be deeper but "somewhat young" next season. That includes the Swedish teen Lehner, a second-round pick (46th overall) by the Senators in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
"He's a guy who can help Robin learn the ropes of the pro game," said Murray. "We're going to be young (in Binghamton), we're going to be enthusiastic and we're going to be pretty good down there. And I think Mike is the anchor to that as a real calming influence in net."
The veteran of the goaltending tandem can't wait to get started.
"We had a good time together at the end of the season when I met (Lehner) and got to know him a little," said Brodeur. "He's a great kid and he's going to be a great goaltender. His potential is beyond what I can say right now. He's going to be a pleasure to work with and we're going to learn a lot from each other."