After turning back the clock with his performance in the playoffs last season, when he again led the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Final, veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur is being forced to turn the clock back to another part of his career.
This is the fourth time since Brodeur broke into the league in 1992 with the Devils that he has been involved in a work stoppage.
He was called up to the NHL two days before the players went on strike in 1992; his career has also been affected by lockouts in 1994, 2004 and now currently in 2012.
During the last delay to the season, the Montreal native did not join other members of the NHLPA that signed contracts to play hockey in Europe, but if games start being cancelled this time around he's considering a move overseas.
"I'm going to wait it out until October, when they're going to start slashing games, and try to have a sense of where it's going," Brodeur told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun on ESPN.com. "I know I'm closing doors in Europe now because I'm going to wait a little bit, but I'd like to go somewhere to play by November if I can get an opportunity somewhere. Right now, I have no intention of going because while there's still lines of communication [between the NHL and NHLPA], it's still a positive thing."
Despite his experience dealing with multiple work stoppages, Brodeur is no less put off by the tactics the owners have used against the players during the negotiations of the expired collective bargaining agreement.
"It's really an unfortunate thing to hold the players and the fans to this kind of treatment all the time," said Brodeur. "Regardless of whether it's something they need to do, I think everyone understands everybody's situation, but when you always try to bully somebody, it's kind of tough.
"It's been three times now. It's tough when they use the same things to always get what they want, but again, they're in their rights to do it. It's not like they're doing anything different, they're going about their business that they feel they can get a better deal for themselves."
Prior to last season, the 40-year-old goaltender and his agent negotiated a two-year-contract with Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello with an eye on having a post-stoppage deal to return to regardless of how long the players are away from the game.
"At the end of the day, that was foremost the first reason why Lou and I didn't agree on a one-year deal, because I kept telling him that I needed a guarantee I would play hockey," said Brodeur. "At my age, if I go through a whole lockout without a contract, it would have been tough for me to sign for the value I thought I was worth. So I debated with Lou a long time. It took more time than I thought it would. But they came around with it. For me, both mentally and physically, it was the most important thing to get that extra year. Because my experience is that when people talk lockout, usually it happens. That's the feeling that I had. The second year was a safety valve for me."
Though he's not ready to call it quits, Brodeur wants the ability to decide when it's time to hang up his skates and not have a lockout send him into retirement as it did to some of the players he sat out alongside in 2004.
"Eventually I'll leave the game, but I want to leave it the way I want to leave it, and not because of a work stoppage," said Brodeur. "There's so many great players that had that happen to them last time and I'm sure it killed them. Hopefully, that's under my control now with how I structured things, but I guess you never know."
For now, Brodeur just hopes that this lockout does not destroy all of the recent gains that have been made in the league.
"A lot of positive stuff came out of the last few seasons in the NHL, and now we're going back to the negative stuff," said Brodeur. "It's just not healthy."