Mendes: Brodeur avoids fate of legends who should have stayed

You know it’s been a strange week when both Katie Holmes and Martin Brodeur declare they are free agents.

Mendes: Brodeur avoids fate of legends who should have stayed

You know it’s been a strange week when both Katie Holmes and Martin Brodeur declare they are free agents.

For years, both have been under the spell of powerful men who operate in mysterious ways. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Can you imagine Lou Lamoriello jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch?

While there’s no chance that Katie goes running back to Tom, we’re absolutely certain Brodeur has done the right thing by re-signing in New Jersey and continuing his relationship with Lamoriello.

After all, in the world of professional sports, it’s better to stay with the Devils that you know.

During his brief flirtation with free agency, there appeared to be mutual interest between Brodeur and the Chicago Blackhawks. On the surface, this might have been a terrific marriage, as the legendary netminder would have brought some much-needed stability to the Blackhawks’ crease.

But if he signed in Chicago, we never would have been able to reconcile the image of Brodeur wearing a Blackhawks jersey. Even though free agency has transformed professional sports, some players are just meant to stay with one team for their entire career. Derek Jeter wouldn’t look right wearing something other than pinstripes. Tom Brady should always throw touchdown passes at Foxboro. And no matter how sketchy the neighborhood is in Newark, Martin Brodeur should always be minding the crease for the Devils.

Over the years, there have been countless examples of players who took a huge gamble late in their careers by leaving the organizations that made them famous. On rare occasions, it works out – like Ray Bourque leaving the Bruins to join the Colorado Avalanche.

But most of the time, it ends up as a total disaster for the player and his new team. This week, we look at the 10 Hall of Famers who never should have joined a new team:

NFL

Brett Favre – New York Jets: Favre was an iconic figure in American sports when he was the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. But his decision to sign with the New York Jets in the summer of 2008 started his downward spiral into one of the most hated athletes of all-time. The biggest contribution during his Jets’ tenure was bringing the term “junk” into mainstream vocabulary. In Favre’s defense, Joe Namath would have been the first Jets’ quarterback to e-mail pictures of his junk to females – but the technology didn’t exist during Broadway Joe’s time in New York.

Emmitt Smith – Arizona Cardinals: How forgettable was Smith’s stint in the desert? On his Wikipedia page, there is more info and background about his appearance on Dancing With The Stars than there is on his two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

O.J. Simpson – San Francisco 49ers: Unfortunately, signing with the 49ers was the second-worst thing that O.J. ever did in the state of California.

NHL

Mike Modano – Detroit Red Wings: Modano was the face of the Stars franchise for 20 seasons before he decided to sign a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings. But Modano was pretty much a flop, as he ended up scoring just four goals in his season for the Red Wings. That same year, Johan Franzen scored five goals in a single game for Detroit against the Senators.

Mats Sundin – Vancouver Canucks : Clearly uncomfortable with the notion of being the third-best Swede on the team, Sundin was barely a factor in his half-season in Vancouver.

Borje Salming – Detroit Red Wings: When he was playing for the Leafs, Salming was the victim of one of the ugliest on-ice incidents in NHL history when the skate blade of Red Wings forward Gerard Gallant accidentally cut his face for more than 200 stitches. Salming exacted his revenge on Detroit by signing a one-year contract with them three years later – and was basically a non-factor in his 49-game stint with the Red Wings.

NBA

Hakeem Olajuwon – Toronto Raptors: Hakeem Olajuwon played for the Raptors? That’s like remembering that Adam Sandler was on The Cosby Show.

Michael Jordan – Washington Wizards: Fun exercise: If you try Google-searching the phrase “Michael Jordan’s best moments as a Washington Wizard” it will yield the response, “Did you mean: Michael Jordan’s best moments as a Chicago Bull?”

MLB

Babe Ruth – Boston Braves: Boston never lived down the fact they traded away Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. And then to rub salt in the wound, The Bambino returned to the city as a washed up, 40-year-old slugger who hit just .181 in a forgettable 28-game stint with the Braves.

Willie Mays – New York Mets: In his final season in the majors, Mays fell down in the outfield during the World Series against the Oakland A’s – proving he was a far cry from the young centerfielder who made the greatest catch in baseball history. In his prime, writers described Mays’ glove as “the place where triples go to die.” But during his time with the Mets, a better description of Mays patrolling centerfield was “the place where routine fly balls turn into doubles.”

Sportsnet reporter Ian Mendes writes on a variety of topics, including the NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB each week in the Citizen. Follow him on twitter at @ian_mendes.

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