After 20 years in the National Hockey League (NHL) Martin Brodeur says he has seen it all, but the one thing the New Jersey Devils netminder cannot see is retiring anytime soon.
The 40-year-old goalie is considered the senior citizen of this year's Stanley Cup final between the Devils and Los Angeles Kings which begins Wednesday in Newark, New Jersey.
The best-of-seven championship series was widely expected to be the future Hall of Famer's last hurrah, but on the eve of his fifth Stanley Cup final, Brodeur gave the clearest indication yet that he is still not ready to put away the pads.
"I'm leaning towards (returning), I haven't made my decision yet but I'm leaning towards it," a smiling Brodeur said Tuesday during media day at the Stanley Cup final. "��Winning or not won't change the way I felt about my season.
"It's something I love doing and I got it back this year. I'm feeling good about my game, I'm feeling good about the game of hockey, it's been a lot of fun.
"Last year was a tough year for me and the organization as a whole and I see a lot of good things coming up for the Devils and I would like to be part of it."
After a difficult campaign last year that had some experts suggesting Brodeur had reached the end of the line, the old warhorse returned to familiar form this season and turned back the clock in the playoffs with a vintage display.
A four-time Vezina Trophy winner as top goalie who holds the NHL's all-time records for wins and shutouts, Brodeur will play in his 200th playoff game on Wednesday having already sipped champagne from Lord Stanley's mug three times.
"All your life you dream of playing for a Stanley Cup, to try and win a Stanley Cup, so definitely when you get to this point it's just one more step to achieve your goal," said Brodeur, who won his first Cup when he was 23.
"It's been fun, just the fact we have been able to achieve something great and compete for the Stanley Cup. ... ��We didn't expect that, I wanted to have a good season and bounce back from last year so it's kind of nice."
New Jersey General Manager Lou Lamoriello, who took Brodeur 20th overall in the 1990 NHL Draft, says the Canadian is the same now as the day he selected him.
Brodeur laughed at that suggestion while pointing to his five children as an indication of how much things have changed, but he acknowledged his love for the game has remained constant.
"When I got drafted all I wanted to do was play one game in the NHL," said Brodeur. ��"I didn't care about winning. I had never won anything until I won my first Stanley Cup.
"For me it has been an unbelievable ride but I definitely didn't expect to be here this long."
Brodeur has played in 1,191 regular season games and his 656 career wins are 105 more than number two Patrick Roy, a Hall of Famer who retired in 2003.
Ultimately, the decision on whether Brodeur will add to those numbers next season might not be left up to him.
With the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) set to expire in September, the NHL and players are bracing for a labor dispute that could mark the end of Brodeur's career.
"The whole situation with the CBA could have a big impact on what I am going to do, that is probably going to be the deal breaker for me," said Brodeur.
"If it is going to be a long one like last time there is a really good chance you won't be seeing me back here."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)