This guy's a big deal

Nobody wants to be the cloud which rains on the proverbial parade but after a very exciting season and playoffs, the CBA is up for renewal — yes, that one that lost a season in 2004 — and there’s a chance that we lose a season in 2012. How much of a chance? It remains to be seen, but this type of talk is never a good sign.

A unfortunate byproduct of a lockout is always careers that end unceremoniously because players simply get fed up and think that they’re better off sitting on a dock for the next 40 years than debating pedantic union issues which won’t affect them much in the long term. Who can blame them?

When you factor in the work required to keep your body in physical conditioning meant for professional hockey, it’s not hard to understand why you lose your edge.

The list of potential names who may hang ‘em up for good includes one Martin Brodeur who is getting ready to play for the Stanley Cup this week. It’s entirely possible that his last game as an NHLer comes this month and not because he wants to stop playing hockey by his own choice.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell writes:

“The whole situation with the CBA could have a big impact on what I do,” Brodeur said at the NHL’s media day on the eve of the Stanley Cup final. “That probably is going to be the deal-breaker for me. If it’s going to be like last time, there’s a really good chance you ain’t seeing me back here. Not as a player anyway.”

That a work stoppage may be able to do what the rigors of playing 18 years and making 188 consecutive playoff starts has been unable to do is telling. It seems Brodeur would rather play than take an extended break despite the fact he’s now 40 years old. That speaks to how much he has enjoyed both his personal renaissance and that of the Devils, who take on the Kings Wednesday night in Game 1 of what should be a very interesting final.

“All year long, I really embraced being an older guy on the team,” Brodeur said. “It’s great to see them go. They work so hard and every night they go out and they care and you can see it in their face. It has been a lot of fun.”

It’s a tough reality but it’s one that we may have to face sooner rather than later. This season was filled with a lot of bad in the realm of injuries and dirty hits but it was also filled with some of the most spectacular plays and goals we’ve ever seen. This isn’t to romanticize the NHL — it is what it is. I’m not going to tell you it was magical and make it rain hyperbole. This was a fun hockey season and we might not get another one next year. It’ll be a shame but it may be a reality. We did it once, how hard could it be to do it again, right?

We’ll be here after the lockout, Marty Brodeur might not be.