The greatest Devil of them all, Martin Brodeur, will remain with the only NHL franchise he has ever known.
Brodeur and the Devils agreed to a two-year deal worth $9 million Monday morning.
“At the end of the day, this is what I wanted all along,” Brodeur said in a midday conference call with reporters. “It was important to make the right decision for me.
“It wasn’t about money. It was [about] security. I’ll be ready to honor [the contract] physically and mentally.”
During the conference call, he said that the Devils had offered a one-year deal which prompted Brodeur to hire super agent Pat Brisson — who represents, among others, Sidney Crosby, the Sedin twins, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Claude Giroux — on Friday to assist in his first foray into unrestricted free agency.
While he would not name the franchises that presented contracts to him, Brodeur reported that “every team [offered a] two-year deal. [We] had no interest in a one-year deal. My agent, Pat, talked to other teams. We did entertain offers We got other offers.
“There were offers out there that were a lot different.”
Brodeur hinted that the Devils’ financial issues may have played a role in the one-year offer. The Devils are $200 million in debt and had to accept a loan from the league last season.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final that “Jeff Vanderbeek is working on refinancing the debt on the club and equity raise. [Vanderbeek] appears confident that he can pull this off in the next few weeks,” but the New York Post reported in its June 18 edition that the league could take control of the team if Vanderbeek is unable to pay $77 million of the debt by Aug. 14. It has been speculated that Vanderbeek is in discussions with potential ownership candidates.
“I guess you can say that,” Brodeur said. “I don’t know for sure.”
Brodeur was pleased that the Devils agreed to a two-year contract totaling $2.8 million for backup goaltender Johan Hedberg. Hedberg compiled a 32-19-4 record with a 2.08 goals against average, .915 save percentage and seven shutouts in 61 games played in the last two seasons. He went 17-7-2 with a 2.22 GAA and .918 save percentage, along with four shutouts, last year.
“Brings stability to the back end,” Brodeur said of the partnership with Hedberg. “[It’s] nice to count on somebody to [be able to] keep me fresh. [It is a] good set up.”
While the Devils are set in goal for the next two years, they, like the rest of the NHL are waiting to hear from Zach Parise. The Devils’ captain was reviewing offers Monday.
“Zach is a priority [for] the Devils. He is a franchise player. He worked very hard; played very well for us,” Brodeur said. “I talked to him a lot [on Sunday] and talked to him [Monday] morning. Will talk to him later.
“The decision is so hard,” Brodeur added. “[It’s a] tough decision for him.”
The 40-year old Brodeur played — and started — 59 games for the Devils last season. He went 31-21-4 with a 2.41 goals against average, .908 save percentage and three shutouts.
Brodeur has a career record of 656-371-105-36 with a 2.23 goals against average and .913 save percentage.
He is the NHL all-time record holder in games played (1,191), minutes played (70,029), most consecutive 30-win seasons (12), most seasons with 30-wins (13), wins (656), losses (371), shutouts (119) and playoff shutouts (24).
NHL news and notes
The NHL announced Monday afternoon that Bettman had reduced the 25-game suspension for Phoenix Coyotes left wing Raffi Torres from 25 games to 21 games.
Torres was suspended by NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan on April 21 for his flying elbow to the chin of Chicago right wing Marian Hossa in the first period Game 3 of the Coyotes-Blackhawks Western Conference quarterfinal. Torres missed the last 13 games of the Coyotes’ playoff run.
He filed an in-person appeal of the suspension with Bettman on May 17.
Torres will sit out Phoenix’s seven preseason games and the first four games of the regular season. The first game he could play would be the Oct. 25 home match against Nashville.
“This type of on-ice conduct cannot and will not be tolerated in the National Hockey League. We have seen similar behavior before from Mr. Torres and, particularly given the League’s heightened scrutiny on hits to the head, I believe that a very significant penalty is warranted in this case,” Bettman said in the statement. “We hope and expect that the severity of this incident, and the League’s response to it, will help prevent any similar incident from occurring in the future.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.