Above the 49: Brodeur deserves video game immortalization

9:59 AM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - It is no secret that if Martin Brodeur had his way, he would be busily preparing the New Jersey Devils for an appearance in the NHL's Eastern Conference Final.

But with the Devils finishing outside the playoffs for the just the third time since Brodeur took over as their No. 1 goaltender, the future Hall of Famer has taken to another challenge. He's actively campaigning to become the first goalie since John Vanbiesbrouck in 1997 to appear on the 2014 cover of EA Sports' NHL video game.

EA Sports, in partnership with the NHL, has been conducting online fan voting since late April through the NHL's website and on Twitter. At the outset of the voting, all 30 teams around the league had two players eligible to be voted on with the winner being immortalized by gracing the next title on EA's venerable line of NHL games.

Brodeur is up against fellow netminder Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the final voting. It ends on Sunday and the winner will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals.

At the age of 41 and clearly in the twilight of his career, Brodeur doesn't fit the typical mold of a player one expects to appear on the title of a video game that normally tries to appease to a younger fan base. But the fact that he finds himself in the final of this contest is an indication that all hockey fans - young or old - recognize Brodeur's significant impact to the game.

For those fans, this appears to be an opportunity to provide Brodeur with one final honor knowing the odds of him walking away from the game on a high note - namely with either a Stanley Cup championship or an Olympic gold medal - is unlikely.

When you look at Brodeur's body of work over the years, it seems a shame he has not appeared on the video game cover earlier. It's not necessarily a surprise, though, given the teams he has played for in the past have been more chastised than praised for their dull playing style.

Brodeur sits atop the NHL's all-time list for games played (1,220) and wins (669), has made five appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals and has walked away with the ultimate prize on three occasions. He has suited up for Canada on a number of occasions on the international stage, most notably leading them to a World Cup of Hockey championship in 2005 as well as Olympic gold medal victories in 2002 and 2010.

He holds the record for most wins in a single season (48), most shutouts in a playoff campaign (seven) and most shutouts in a Stanley Cup Final (three). He is also a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, a 10-time NHL All-Star and the 1994 Calder Memorial Trophy winner as NHL Rookie of the Year.

His Devils teams, specifically in the early 2000s when they made three Cup appearances in four years from 2000-03 - winning twice - are as close to a dynasty as there has been in the NHL arguably since the mid-1980s Oilers.

During the years Brodeur and the Devils were dominating the league, the players who were featured as cover athletes for the EA NHL series included St. Louis' Chris Pronger, San Jose's Owen Nolan, Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux - who had just recently made his return to the NHL after a three-year absence due to health issues - and Calgary's Jarome Iginla.

Brodeur has one year remaining on the two-year pact he inked with the Devils last summer, but it seems a longshot he will have an opportunity next season to recapture his past glory on the ice.

The Devils, despite being just a year removed from an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, aren't a team expected to pose a serious threat for the title next season as it is still reeling from the loss of former team captain Zach Parise last summer.

The Devils have a busy offseason ahead of them as well as they have to deliberate on which of their key unrestricted free agents they want to bring back following a disappointing campaign, including the likes of Patrik Elias, David Clarkson and Dainius Zubrus, alongside restricted free agents Adam Henrique and Andrei Loktionov.

Brodeur will get some consideration for Canada's Olympic team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, but he won't be a shoe-in to be part of that squad as he'll be competing with a long list of candidates, including the likes of Marc- Andre Fleury, Carey Price, Cam Ward, Mike Smith and Roberto Luongo.

Brodeur might not get that last, great hurrah on the ice between now and the time his playing career comes to an end, but a video game title tribute would be a nice touch. The fans certainly seem to think so and have been pushing hard to make that become a reality.

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