Martin Brodeur will be a Devil for life

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Martin Brodeur will be a Devil for life

From Comcast SportsNet
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Martin Brodeur is going to remain the face of the New Jersey Devils. The 40-year-old goaltender who has led the team to three Stanley Cups, signed a two-year, 9 million contract Monday to stay with the only NHL club he's ever known. "At the end of the day, this is what I wanted all along," Brodeur said in a conference call. "Circumstances happen sometimes in life that I can't control, and I can't say it won't happen again, but I am happy, and two years seems appropriate for me maybe to leave the game at that time. But I am not 100 percent sure. Again, we'll how I feel and how well I am able to play." The key to the new deal was the Devils' eventual willingness to give him the extra year, Brodeur said. Adding the length of the contract was more important than the money because of the potential of a lockout this upcoming season. Two years provides stability and the assurance that he will have somewhere to play. Brodeur would not identify the teams that contacted him, though Chicago and Toronto expressed interest. When asked if he gave the Devils a discount, he noted there were offers from other teams that were much different than the one he signed. Hours after word of Brodeur's deal leaked, the Devils also announced that backup goaltender Johan Hedberg, 39, also signed a two-year deal worth 1.4 million per season. Both deals feature no-trade clauses. "We'll definitely bring stability to the back end," said Brodeur, the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender. "We've done that for the last year and a half, two years. It's nice to be able to count on somebody to be able to play well and that helped me to be fresh on the back end of the season. It's a nice setup." Brodeur posted a 31-21-4 record in the regular season with three shutouts and a .908 save percentage in helping the Devils make the playoffs after missing out the previous year for the first time since 1996. He was better in the postseason, recording a 14-9 mark with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in leading sixth-seeded New Jersey to its first Eastern Conference title since 2003. New Jersey defeated the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers to advance to the finals before losing the Cup to the Los Angeles Kings in six games. Brodeur has posted a 656-371-105 career record with the Devils, winning Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003, and has been a fixture for a franchise that had never been to a Cup final before he arrived. Admittedly, free agency was a new experience for him, as contract negotiations haven't often been a sticking point in his career. In fact, before he hired Pat Brisson last week, Brodeur used to represent himself at the bargaining table with Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello. "We talked to the Devils all along and the line of communication was always open," Brodeur said, adding he did entertain some offers before the Devils came through with the all-important extra year. "The Devils weren't ready for a little while to do that," he said. "When they were able to get it done, that made the decision pretty easy." Hedberg, a 1994 draft choice of Philadelphia, has a career mark of 155-133-33 with 21 shutouts and a 2.83 goals-against average in 354 games over ten NHL seasons. He played for Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Dallas and Atlanta before truly finding his way in New Jersey. He played in 27 games last season, posting a 17-7-2 mark with four shutouts and a 2.23 goals-against, and is quite comfortable as a reserve player at this point in his career. With the goaltending situation settled, the Devils now turn their focus left wing Zach Parise. The Devils captain is the top free agent on the market, and he told reporters Sunday that he may make a decision Monday. Parise was named captain before last season by new coach Peter DeBoer, and delivered 31 goals and 69 points in that role. Brodeur spoke with Parise several times on Sunday, and then again on Monday morning. He even planned a couple more calls if necessary. He also talked to Lamoriello about Parise while working on his own deal. "Zach is a priority of the Devils," Brodeur said. "You have to put pieces together to form a team, and he is a piece of it, like Hedberg is a piece of it. Zach is a franchise player at this stage of his career. We are definitely waiting impatiently for his decision and hopefully he is coming back with us." Parise deserves everything he can get in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Brodeur said. "I wasn't that much biased yesterday afternoon, but now I am a lot more for him to come back," Brodeur quipped, adding that Parise has indicated that the Devils are right in the mix on his short list. "By no means," Brodeur said, "is he not considering coming back."

Bears In-Foe: Can this offense expose two key Lions injuries?

Bears In-Foe: Can this offense expose two key Lions injuries?

Coming off two long fourth quarter drives by the Titans the week before that cost them their home opener, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers kept Detroit's defense in the dumps Sunday, shredding the Lions for 31 first-half points.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been tasked with replacing the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Stephen Tulloch over the last couple of years, and having to Band-Aid the unit from key injuries. One was game-changing linebacker DeAndre Levy, who played just 17 snaps all of 2015 after signing a $20 million extension. Austin, who's had nine head coaching interviews the past two off-seasons, had to be welcoming Levy back with open arms. Then he suffered a quad injury in the Titans game, sat out versus the Packers, and his status will be one to watch this week.

Then there's Ziggy Ansah, the fifth overall pick from 2013 who's only in his sixth year of even playing football.  His 14.5 sacks last season gave him 30 in 46 career games and made him the new centerpiece of the defense. But the Ghana native sustained a high ankle sprain in that same game against the Titans and is not expected to be ready for Sunday's noon date on the lakefront.

Who could possibly pick up some of that pass rush slack? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Kerry Hyder.

Who?

The undrafted free agent spent 2014 on the Jets' practice squad, then moved to the Lions last year. He almost seemed destined to spend another year on The Squad before he finished the preseason strong. The door opened, and the 6-foot-2, 270-pound end has four sacks so far. Tackle Haloti Ngata, who is 32 years old, struggled with injuries after coming over to help replace Suh, but finished strong, and has started well. Second-round pick A'Shaun Robinson rotates in after the Alabama product was passed over by the Bears.

[MORE BEARS IN-FOE: From Megatron to MegaMarv?]

Levy's injury left the Lions with only four linebackers at Lambeau after one promotion from the practice squad. Speedy, physical Tahir Whitehead took over for the now-departed Tulloch in the middle and earned his way into the starting lineup the last couple of years. Austin has given the other starting spot to Kyle Van Noy in a last-ditch attempt to prove spending a second-round pick on him in 2014 wasn't a mistake.

The secondary includes a stud corner and safety. Darius Slay (2013 second round) has turned into their shutdown guy and signed a four-year, $48 million extension in July. Nevin Lawson is just 5-9 but plays physical and fast opposite Slay - and was called for a 66-yard (!) pass interference penalty Sunday. Free safety Glover Quin's interception has the defense's lone takeaway this season and is one of the game's best. The team invested a fourth-round pick on heavy-hitting Miles Kinnebrew, and injury-prone Rafael Bush in free agency. But former Illini Tavon Wilson was signed away from the Patriots and held down the strong side before departing Sunday's loss with a neck injury.

Special teams

The Lions' coverage teams are top ten in both punts and kickoffs. The loss of Ameer Abdullah to his foot injury will affect the return game firepower, with backup wideout Andre Roberts filling in. Kicker Matt Prater is 5-for-6 on field goals thus far after being fifth in accuracy last year, including a 59-yarder versus the Bears at Soldier Field in last year's season finale.

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

The earrings were gleaming from Jimmy Butler’s ears, as he was his usual-disarming self with a playful smile and wink during his question-and-answer session with the Chicago media.

At a point, he took a deep breath as he looked around the Advocate Center with some of his new teammates walking around, some of whom had to carry nameplates because they weren’t recognizable faces in this new setting.

And because new faces are in town, it means two things: some faces left town and for Butler’s sake, the new ones will only know him as “Jimmy Butler, All-Star”, not the guy who was a late first-round pick, not the player who couldn’t get off the bench.

Butler didn’t bring up his comfort level, but when asked, he didn’t deny things appear to be a bit easier this time around.

“Does it make me feel more comfortable? I mean, to an extent, yeah, because then you can never say how you may have think that I’ve changed,” Butler said.

Butler’s ascension rubbed some the wrong way last season, and it’s been spoken about ad nauseam, whether it was true or not. But the moment of honesty wasn’t so much a shot at Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah, who departed for the Knicks in various forms; however it was an admission to his level of security, one that perhaps can lead to a more peaceful existence with all the core pieces.

The one way he’s always lead and will always speak to, is by example and work ethic. It’s one that turned him into an All-Star and Olympian.

[MORE BULLS: Wade in Bulls jersey: same material, different reality]

“I think everybody that’s on this roster now just knows how hard that I’ve worked to get to this spot that I’m at,” Butler said. “They’ve seen it. They’ve witnessed it. All they’ve been around for me is this point of my career. I don’t know if it sounds bad. But I think that all these guys look at, ‘If Jimmy works like that and if I work like that, I’ll be in the same position that he’s in.’ I’ll be more than happy to let you have that position because I think hard work can get you anywhere that you want to get to.”

So with that, Butler volunteered himself to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, to be the sacrificial lamb of wrath if need be. Easy to say if he doesn’t actually believe Hoiberg is capable of going from nice guy to madman at a moment’s notice but Butler laid it out for the record.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”

The additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo add championship receipts to a locker room that needs it, considering the Bulls want to play their young pieces. Wade and Rondo, the Bulls privately believe, will help Butler deal with everything that comes with a new role of leadership — and by proxy, Butler’s relationship and expectations of Hoiberg.

“He was put in a position last year he wasn't familiar with and I think we'll see growth from it,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “The great thing about Jimmy is you know he comes in each and every day and gives 100 percent. He gets better every year and I think we'll continue to see that growth in his game and him as a person. I think that experience with USA basketball was real positive for him.”

Whether the trio lives up to the “Three Alphas” nickname remains to be seen, but after having a locker room with too many low-pitched voices, perhaps the change in pace — any change in pace — will be a welcome one for Butler.

“The Alpha thing, I think we’ll be just fine. Everybody is going to have something to say,” he said. “As long as everybody is listening and is willing to take some criticism if you’re doing something wrong, just like if you’re doing something right I’m going to tell you, there’s good and bad in everything you do. At the end of the day, as long as we win games, it won’t matter.”