Prior to the 2008-09 season Martin Brodeur deviated from his iconic yet simplistic horned “J” mask. Instead he opted for a newly designed helmet with an “MB30” right smack dab in the center of the spot the “J” had called home. The self-promoting branded helmet was out of character for both Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. Since the switch both Brodeur and the Devils have struggled, leading me to this question, Is the “MB30” cursed?
Just a few games in the 08-09 season Brodeur suffered a “bruised elbow” which was later discovered to be a torn distal biceps tendon, the first major injury of his legendary career. Brodeur went under the knife five days later and would miss almost four months of the season. Marty recovered in time to play in just 31 games, the fewest of his career. Although he posted a solid 19-9 record in those games his goals against average ballooned to 2.41, his highest since 2005-06.
Cursed or just bad luck? Not convinced? It doesn’t end there.
That same season Brodeur and the Devils suffered arguably the most shocking playoff defeat in the teams history. New Jersey led the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 late in game 7 of their first round series. Less than a minute and a half remained in the game. Suddenly Brodeur couldn’t stop a beach ball and he allowed Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal to score 48-seconds apart to stun the Devils and their fans. It was the second shocking loss for the Devils in that series. They lost Game 4 on a goal by Jokinen with 0.2 seconds to play.
Are you starting to see where I’m going with the idea of a curse?
Now, the following regular season was much better for Marty. Brodeur led the NHL in wins (45), shutouts (9), games played (77) and minutes played (4499). He also won his fifth William Jennings Trophy and had the third best GAA in the league. He also surpassed Patrick Roy in most career wins (551) and most playoff shutouts (23), most games played (1029). Plus to top it off he passed all-time great Terry Sawchuk for the most shutouts (103) in NHL history. The Devils won their second straight Atlantic Division title and seemed poised for a long playoff run.
Despite all the great accomplishments Brodeur achieved throughout the year he and the Devils inexplicably lost in the first round of the playoffs to the 7th seeded Philadelphia Flyers in just 5 games. The Flyers finished 15 points behind the favored Devils in the standings but managed to knock them off in five games. Marty was less than spectacular giving up 15 goals in the 5 game series. His GAA of 3.01 and save percentage of .881 were both career playoff and regular season lows.
Curse of the “MB30” strikes again!
The icing on the cake was last seasons complete disaster. Marty struggled for most of the first half of the season forcing him to sit more than usual. He also had a late season knee injury that kept him off the ice for a period of time. Brodeur played in only 56 games and finished with a losing record (23-26-3)for the first time since 1990-91, when he was a Saint-Hyacinthe Laser in the QJMHL. To add insult to injury, New Jersey missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
In the three seasons since the switch to the “MB30” logo, Brodeur’s GAA has been 2.24 or higher including two of the three over 2.41. Compare that to his career average of 2.22. The inflated GAA matched his total from the previous 15 seasons and during that span he only had one season over 2.41.
Obviously to say Marty and the Devils are cursed is a stretch despite the evidence pointing towards the fact that “something” has not been quite right with Brodeur for some time. It could just be his age and all the games played finally catching up with him. But, one has to wonder why Brodeur has elected to bring back the “J” and this late stage of his career.
Professional athletes are extremely superstitious and they continually look for an edge, Brodeur is no exception. Perhaps he feels changing his mask back may reverse the teams misfortunes from the past three seasons. Whatever the reason, The 39-year old future Hall of Famer is in the twilight of his playing days and the urgency to win now is magnified. Marty knows that clock never stops ticking and he wants one more chance to win it all. He had to start somewhere.
Whether you believe in curses or not, you have to admit seeing Brodeur in the old mask brings back some very good memories. Let’s hope that old horned “J” has some of that old magic of it’s own left.
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