When Martin Brodeur unexpectedly revived his career with the St. Louis Blues in December 2014, no one knew that the goaltending legend would remain part of the Blues’ organization for the better part of four years. But, after retiring midseason, Broduer was named a special assistant to general manager Doug Armstrong, and after the season, was promoted to assistant general manager on a three year contract.
Now, three years later, Brodeur’s contract has expired and he’s returned home to the New Jersey Devils, while the Blues have promoted scouting director Bill Armstrong (no relation) in his place.
Brodeur’s Blues Tenure
Brodeur initially signed on with the Blues as goaltender — the first time he had ever played for an NHL team other than the Devils. With Brian Elliott injured and no clear backup to Jake Allen, Brodeur was brought in as relief. In seven appearances with the Blues, he went 3-3-0, and he recorded his final shutout against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 29, 2014.
When Elliott returned, Brodeur became the third goalie on the depth chart, and he decided to retire. With his retirement was the announcement that he would join the Blues’ front office as a special assistant to the general manager. After the season, he signed a three year deal to serve as the assistant general manager.
In his time as assistant general manager, Brodeur built a name for himself in the office. He was asked to join the Team Canada management team for the 2018 Olympics. Managing national teams is often the first step down the path towards becoming an NHL GM. He also spent half of the 2016-17 season as a goaltending coach for the Blues, in which time Jake Allen turned around a rough season and had a phenomenal second half.
Whether in the front office or behind the bench, Martin Brodeur has a bright future in hockey, which should come as no surprise. For now, he returns to the team with which he is synonymous — the New Jersey Devils — as their executive vice president of business development. Joining the business side gives Brodeur more time to be with his children, as he explained in an interview with ESPN. With Brodeur gone, the Blues had to name a new assistant GM, and they decided to work from within, promoting longtime scouting director Bill Armstrong to fill the role.
Bill Armstrong, Scouting Extraordinaire
Armstrong has been the Blues’ scouting director since 2010, the same tenure as the team’s general manager Doug Armstrong (again, no relation). Though it’s impossible to specifically assign credit for each draft pick, in that time, the Blues’ organization has had extraordinary success in the draft, selecting great players and exciting prospects, all while never picking above pick 14. Bill Armstrong was doubtlessly starting to draw interest from other organizations, particularly given the fact that his farm system was recently ranked third in the league by Corey Pronman.
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) August 29, 2018
Promoting Armstrong was absolutely the correct decision for the Blues, as he has been indispensable to building their team over the last decade. Though the Blues are still in search of their first Stanley Cup Championship, they have been in the playoffs all but two years since 2010, and now they have built a legitimate contender with an elite farm system to boot. While the the two Armstrong’s share responsibility for this success with lots of supporting players, they are the main stars of the production, and going forward, the Blues are in very good hands.
Bill Armstrong and Martin Brodeur: The Future
Given their history and the position changes both men have received, there’s a good chance that both Bill Armstrong and Martin Brodeur will be general managers in the NHL in the near future. Armstrong is primed to take over for Doug Armstrong if he ever leaves the Blues or decides he’d like a different role. If Doug continues as the Blues’ GM, Bill might be swiped by another team.
Marty, for his part, can probably take his pick of positions within the Devils’ organization, but if the GM position opens, one would have to think he’d be the top candidate. The only question then would be whether he’d follow in the footsteps of Steve Yzerman, a superstar player that became an incredible GM, or whether he’d be more like the many players that have failed in front office roles. Given his success with the Blues and Team Canada, that seems unlikely. If Brodeur is promoted, it won’t be just because he’s a franchise legend; Brodeur has earned his next role, and like everything else he’s done in life, he’ll probably excel.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.