Kevin Weekes knew there was a possibility that he would have to take over for a while as the Devils' No. 1 goaltender, so now that he knows for sure that Martin Brodeur will be out for three to four months after he has surgery on Thursday to repair a torn biceps tendon, he says he doesn't have to change his approach much.
"The reality is some sense is a little bit different, but this is just part of my job and my role," he said. "So, definitely, it's a little different. I get to play a bit more, but it's all part and parcel with my job."
The reality is that Weekes is the first goaltender other than the Brodeur to be called the Devils' No. 1 since Chris Terreri 15 years ago.
Playing more offen doesn't mean Weekes has to alter his routine a lot because he always tried to stay ready to play even when Brodeur was healthy.
"I'll still approach things the same way as far as my day-to-day work and my habits and stuff," Weekes said. "In that sense, it's not all that foreign. It's just you have this change with where I'm going to play more."
Weekes has started only six games over the last 22 months, so there will be an adjustment as far as handling the heavier workload. But he did play 66 games for Carolina in 2003-04, so it's not like he's never done it before.
"I'm thankful for me role and I appreciate my role, but I really don't let my role define who I am as a player or a person," he said. "It's just my role on a particular team. Your role doesn't necessarily define who you are and what you're capable of. So. that's how I've always approached things."
Weekes has changed his style a little in the last year under the tutelage of Jacques Caron. Instead of sitting back in his net, he comes out to challenge shooters more often.
He said Caron also has encouraged him to relax and have fun.
"Jacques has been great that way," Weekes said. "Just to relax and have fun playing. Enjoy the games more. I've always had fun coming to the rink. I've always been a student of the game, but Jacques' (approach) is practice hard, which we do, and just love the game in practice and try hard to have fun with it."
Weekes can provide some perspective on Brodeur's injury because he had surgery in late May to repair a torn biceps tendon in his left elbow. The difference is Weekes' tendon was only partially torn and Brodeur's has been completely torn off the bone.
Weekes said he was told when he had his surgery "to shoot for late preseason or regular season to be ready." He ended up being ready for the start of camp in mid September. So, even though he was ahead of schedule, it took nearly four months for him to be ready to play.
"I was ready for training camp and was on the ice almost a month, 3 1/2 weeks before training camp back home with my goalie coach, so in that sense I was ahead of schedule a little bit," he said. "I just tried to do a couple of things to accelerate the healing and my rehab and that really helped. The main thing was just trying to be ready for camp. I was ahead of schedule."
Although Weekes will get the bulk of the starts in Brodeur's absence, Scott Clemmensen also figures to get a few and knows that he has to be ready - even more than when he was Brodeur's backup for two and a half seasons.
"Before being with Marty, you know he's going to play day after day and night after night," Clemmensen said. "In a situation like this you always have to be ready to play."
Clemmensen might play as soon as Sunday against Edmonton, but he said he's not "expecting" anything in terms of the number of games he'll play.
"I don't expect anything, but I all I can really control is what I expect of myself," he said. "I'm going to be ready to play every game, every day. Obviously, it's a different mentality than when I was here two or three years ago and Marty was here. If you asked me that question, I could probably give you a pretty good estimate of five or six, seven games maybe all year. Now when you ask me that question, I don't know and I'm glad I don't know because I'm going to be ready to play every game. I don't expect to get anything. That's something you learn in this business real quick."
He thinks not knowing how many games is a good thing compared to not know if he'll play at all.
"I think that's good," he said. "I'll take that as a positive. Just the possibility of playing keeps you ready."
Clemmensen also said he knows that there's a possiblity that the Devils could trade for another goaltender, though Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello has said that isn't in his plans.
"I've been around the block long enough to know that something like that wouldn't surprise me," he said. "Obviously, it would be disappointing if I were send back (to the minors) and wasn't given an opportunity. You work as a player to get to the NHL to play regularly. But I've been around the block a couple of times -- this block more than once. It's something that wouldn't surprise me, but I just take it one day at a time."