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Martin Brodeur happy to start over with Blues

Martin Brodeur of the St. Louis Blues warms

Martin Brodeur of the St. Louis Blues warms up before a game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Martin Brodeur earned his 689th NHL victory Saturday. What made this one different was that he was wearing the colors of the St. Louis Blues.

After 1,260 games as the heart and soul of the Devils, Brodeur, 42, was feeling a little blue over the summer, waiting by an idle phone as he longed for a return to the NHL.

"There's weeks, there's days you don't feel as good,'' he said. "It's like anything. It's like anybody's life. It's tough sometimes when you expect to get something and you're not getting it.''

He kept working out because he still wasn't ready to hang up his skates and jettison his goalie pads after beating Boston, 3-2, in his final game of 2013-14.

"When I played that last game, I really appreciated what the fans did, how they responded towards me,'' said the four-time Vezina Trophy winner, who played his first 21 NHL seasons with the Devils, "but in the back of my head was this is not the last time I was going to be on the ice.''

Finally, someone called. Then a few more teams called. Then instead of feeling the blues, Brodeur was with the Blues.

St. Louis signed him Tuesday to a $700,000 contract for the season -- plus $10,000 per point he earns for the team -- to help fill in for injured starter Brian Elliott, who coach Ken Hitchcock said could be out a while with a knee sprain.

"It was weird. I can't hide it,'' Brodeur said of joining an organization other than the Devils. "It's something that, for [21] years I did the same thing over and over, and now that was a change, so it was a little weird. But I'm used to it now, and I'm really excited to be here.''

Brodeur won't play every game, although he started Thursday and allowed four goals in a 4-3 loss at Nashville. He appeared Saturday at Nassau Coliseum in relief of Jake Allen at the start of the second period and made 15 saves on 16 shots to earn the win as St. Louis overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the Islanders, 6-4.

"It's going to be the coaching staff's decision how they want to use me,'' he said. "I'm coming here to help these guys, not to be the guy that's going to carry them. Who knows what's going to happen, but as I'm coming into this organization, we're trying to build something.''

Hitchcock said he believes the Blues can win with Brodeur, the NHL's all-time regular-season leader in victories.

The Predators came out firing in Brodeur's St. Louis debut, scoring twice in the first six minutes. Hitchcock said he was happy with Brodeur's overall performance and week in practice.

"After you [give up] your first goal, you're like, all right, this is hockey now. The dream's over. You've got to start playing,'' Brodeur said with a laugh. "It took it a little while. You're making saves but not really feeling the puck or not really feeling the game going on in front of you.''

Hitchcock echoed Brodeur's sentiment that the three-time Stanley Cup winner will help as a leader in the locker room.

"His experience, his winning experience, is a real good thing for our team,'' Hitchcock said. "He's not afraid to say the things that need to get said.''

He's certainly not afraid of the adjustment period or any other adversity he might encounter while playing for a new team.

"I'm excited about this challenge,'' he said. "If it lasts the whole year, if it lasts two or three months, at least I know I was given another shot, lived a different experience. I was always curious about going somewhere else.''

New York Sports