Whether or not Martin Brodeur becomes a mainstay for the St. Louis Blues, his presence in team practices the past few days was and is hopefully being used as a learning opportunity for young Jake Allen. Team management isn’t being shy about the reality of Allen eventually taking over full-time in the St. Louis net. Now, with the door opening a little earlier than anticipated on the heels of the Brian Elliott injury, Allen’s new position in the spotlight allows management and fans to watch his development. There are few guys in the League that could step in a better time than Brodeur.
Brodeur’s fundamentals are top-notch
Unlike some NHL goalies where their style simply cannot be taught, Martin Brodeur’s hybrid style and the elements found within it are simple and classic things that a modern goalie like Allen can build upon in his own game. Besides new mechanics, Brodeur’s insight into stressful game situations and identifying scoring threats is second-to-none. Even if Brodeur plays in 20-25 games, it’s less than Elliott probably would have played over the same amount of time, representing an educational opportunity Allen should embrace. In practices, between the tutelage of Brodeur and goalie coach Jim Corsi, any goalie — including Elliott, who is still relatively young although experienced — should get better in ways large and small.
Brodeur’s here to play
All the wistful talk about Brodeur’s experience, resume and knowledge base shouldn’t overshadow the fact that he’s here to start. He’s said in the past that he doesn’t expect to play “much”, but in goalie parlance that means trying to get on the ice as much as he can through earning it. Realistically, the 20-25 that’s expected by many could change rapidly if the old Marty rears his head and he plays like the 2003 Marty — the last time the Devils won the Stanley Cup. It’s easy to forget that Brodeur led a surprising Devils team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012, winning two games against a Kings team that wasn’t doing much losing in the postseason. There’s an aire of confidence and awe that a guy like Brodeur brings to any team, with players speaking in reverent and hushed tones in his presence. When grown NHLers are asking for a teammate’s autograph, something special is in the air. Fans should not be shocked if Brodeur wrests the starter’s role from Allen who, if we’re honest, primarily has it because he’s the goalie in the system with the most NHL games under his belt.
The only goalie that should be concerned is Brian Elliott
OK, perhaps that’s overstated a little. But let’s be honest — Jake Allen isn’t going anywhere. Brian Elliott’s primary concern, other than the true status of his lower-body injury, is the prospect of missing the remainder of the season. Nobody is talking about this, but should Brodeur come in, play lights out (including a deep playoff run should he get the reins, which according to Ken Hitchcock he probably would), Allen is in a good spot. If Marty can continue to play at a high enough level over 20-25, that makes Elliott expendable while Allen continues to carve out the starter’s role as his own. Even if Marty takes over and roles are reversed, Allen will still be here in two or three years. With a little personnel management finesse, this potentially awkward scenario could be massaged into a positive situation for all involved. Even if Elliott finds himself on the outside looking in, he has finally earned the reputation as a 1A starter, respect that’s way overdue in his career. Regardless of how it all pans out, the team is in great shape with whichever tandem hits the ice in the next few weeks.