Goaltender Martin Brodeur has been the New Jersey Devils starter since 1994

Preview: Vancouver Canucks face Brodeur – or Schneider – in New Jersey

The New Jersey Devils are balancing on the same goalie trapeze Vancouver was for two seasons - Hall of Famer, or Cory Schneider?

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The Vancouver Canucks are arriving in Tony Soprano’s backyard just in time for the changing of a guard – a regime swap they all but negotiated – although it’s unclear whether they’ll see former teammate Cory Schneider in net, or longtime No. 1 Martin Brodeur.

One thing’s for sure: Martin Brodeur has accepted his role, whatever it is. Well, he says he’s accepted it. He’s admitting it’s changed, at least:

Schneider “is in the net now to stay,” he said on Wednesday to Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger. “I don’t see that’s going to change any time soon… I’ll be ready if it does. We have to try and win some games somehow. This is what (head coach Peter DeBoer) feels is the best opportunity to be successful, having him in the net. That’s fine. If we win, everybody is happy. Even though I don’t play, it’s more enjoyable to be around.”

It’s a classy move by a guy on his way out. Kinda like when Mark Wahlberg handed the mic to the dude in the crowd at the end of Rock Star. (Oh, I’m the only one who watched that?)

It’s also a different tone than the one Brodeur was stroking just a few months ago, when he spoke like he thought Cory Schneider was 22, not 27 (which he is).

“I feel I could really help Cory,” Brodeur said, after the trade that brought the Ginger Prince his way in July. “I’ll play my share of games, if our relationship is good it may drive me to stay a few more years.

“Before the trade I was probably looking at next year as my last year. Now maybe not. I see that more of a possibility now.”

(*NOTE: By the time Brodeur was 27, he had won a Stanley Cup (at the age of 23) and had been a starter for six years. It’s hard to imagine him accepting tutelage from anyone.)

Brodeur – a surefire Hall of Famer and the widely-viewed greatest goalie, like, ever – has been the starter in New Jersey since October, 1993. That year, he went onto win the NHL’s Calder Trophy and took the Devils to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

He followed that up with Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000, and 2003, as well as an Olympic Gold Medal in 2002. He won Gold in 2010, as well, backing up Roberto Luongo – the other guy, our guy, in the nets for Vancouver tonight.

Really, the ice-cest here is staggering.

Add to that the profile of head coach John Tortorella, who spent four years behind the bench of the Devils’ blue-clad rivals, the New York Rangers.

We know Luongo’s trying to start anew in Vancouver. He has to. We know the Canucks are trying to change their game, as well, and Big John’s got some thoughts on that.

“When I wasn’t coaching here, everybody outside thought Vancouver dove and did some whining. Our team is not going to dive,” Torts told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen on Thursday. “I don’t think there is much whining going on either.

“I’m certainly not trying to accuse the League or refs of that, but I know there’s been a reputation… sometimes that hangs around. It’s my chance to say we’re going to be an honest team, trying to be an honest team, and I hope we get some calls along the way.”

That reputation and the hanging around could be in reference to this stat: despite playing 11 games this season – tied, most in the NHL – the Vancouver Canucks are 26th in power play opportunities.

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