Brodeur off IR, Clemmensen returns to Lowell
Scott Clemmensen, who was recalled under emergency conditions on Nov. 3, has been assigned to Lowell (AHL). Defenseman Anssi Salmela has also returned to New Jersey's AHL affiliate.
Clemmensen handled most of the goaltending workload in Brodeur's absence, and helped lead the Devils to first place in the Atlantic Division. New Jersey opens a three-game homestand Thursday against Colorado.
"I had a long conversation with Scotty," Lamoriello said. "He certainly understands. In saying that, the job that he did was incredible while he was here. He knows and we know what he's capable of doing, and he's certainly made a lot of people aware of what he can do."
Clemmensen posted a mark of 25-13-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in 40 appearances. He notched back-to-back shutouts against the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins on Feb. 9 and Feb. 13.
Had he stayed in New Jersey once Brodeur was activated off of IR, Clemmensen would have needed to clear waivers in order to be sent down. Brodeur has missed 50 games since sustaining a left elbow injury on Nov. 1. He had surgery to repair his left distal bicep tendon on Nov. 6.
Kevin Weekes started the season as Brodeur's backup and has a 7-4-0 mark to go with a 2.32 GAA and .924 save percentage in 13 appearances. Lamoriello said that retaining three goaltenders would not have worked.
"You can always do something, but the answer to that is no," Lamoriello said. "When you look at three goaltenders, you cannot give them enough ice time to do the things that are necessary to be ready to play. That would have been unfair to the coaches had that decision been made."
He applauded the character of his three netminders.
"When you have three quality individuals as these are, there's no question that it would never have been a problem among them because they get along so well," he said. "But it would not have been the right decision for the coaching staff."
That does not rule out the possibility of Clemmensen returning to New Jersey at some time after the March 4 trade deadline, when NHL clubs have four recalls at their disposal. At that point, Clemmensen would not have to clear waivers.
"You never know what the future holds," Lamoriello said. "I couldn't, quite frankly, be more proud of him with the way he's handled everything, both on and off the ice. "
With 544 career victories, Brodeur is seven shy of Patrick Roy's all-time mark of 551. He needs five shutouts to match Terry Sawchuk's record of 103.