It worked for future hall of famer Mark Recchi last year and Ray Bourque more than a decade ago. But it's still a rarity for one of the game's true greats to go out on their terms at the top of their game.
So, with Brodeur four wins away from a chance to skate off into the sunset as a champion once more, it's easy to think the 40-year-old netminder could be thinking of just such a scenario playing out in the coming weeks.
Not so fast. Brodeur certainly wants to win that Cup again. He's just not ready to commit to hanging up the pads even if the Devils do win.
"I can't say no, but I doubt it,” Brodeur told Tom Gulitti for the Bergeron Record's Fire & Ice Blog when asked about retiring if the Devils win the Cup. "I'm really enjoying this. Regardless of what happens in this series, I think we made a great step last year at the end of the year and through this year to have a really good team and a good coaching staff together, and it's fun. To me, it's all about having fun coming to the rink. I know a lot of people say it's great to retire on top, but at the end of the day, when I'm going to say it's over, it's over, I'm not going to come back.
"Hopefully, we won't have to replay that tape," added Brodeur, who holds the NHL record for wins (656) and shutouts (119) in a career that's lasted 1,191 regular-season games and counting. "I want to make sure I make the right decision. Right now I'm leaning toward coming back. We'll see."
While walking away a champion again would be a fitting end to an outstanding career, there's no reason for Brodeur to feel any pressure to call it quits regardless of how this Cup Final ends. He may not be quite as dominant as he was in his prime a few years back, but he's proven this postseason that he can still get the job done.
This spring he's 12-5 with a 2.04 GAA and a .923 save percentage in the playoffs. He's even dished out four assists, showing he's not ready for the scrap heap just yet as he prepares for his 200th postseason contest in Wednesday's Game 1 against the Kings.
Meanwhile, the Devils look like a team that isn't just on a remarkable run. They could remain contenders for a while, especially if they find a way to re-sign Zach Parise. Why call it a career after four Cups if there's a chance to stick around for more?
The Devils shouldn't be looking to push Brodeur out the door, either. They don't exactly have a solid succession plan in place. Backup Johan Hedberg is 39 himself, while the system lacks an elite netminding prospect to hand the reins to in the coming years.
So, while it would make for a nice storyline to see Brodeur go out on top if the Devils were to win this upcoming series, hockey fans should enjoy the fact that they may just be able to watch one of the all-time best at his position for a little while longer.
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