As the days were going to wind closer to July 1, most hockey fans in New Jersey anticipated that everyone would be holding their collective breath.
Now, that moment of panic came a few days shy, when word Friday morning leaked that long-time Devils goalie and soon-to-be free agent Martin Brodeur hired Pat Brisson to represent him.
At breakup day after the Stanley Cup Final, Brodeur said he intended to come back for another year, and that he wanted to take a week to talk it over with his family. He also noted that he would not hire an agent to negotiate with the Devils, but would hire one if he was to test the free agent waters.
Making matters even more confusing to this point, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in early June that Brodeur "will be a Devil for as long as he wants to be."
Naturally, as this news hit the media on Friday, reports of practically every team in the NHL showing interest in the all-time wins and shutouts leader surfaced, as well.
And frankly, why wouldn't it?
Brodeur, at age 40, beat out his opposing goalie in the first three series' -- including the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, who was proclaimed as the best in the league -- not to mention the notion that he is arguably the best goalie to play the game. Brodeur proved this past post-season that he still has a lot left in his tank and that he can be a very equitable commodity for any team in the league, with the exception of the Rangers and Kings.
As for the likelihood that Brodeur actually plays for a different team in October? That will remain a question until he actually does sign somewhere.
In all likeliness, this is a precautionary move. With New Jersey's publicly-known financial issues, there is a chance that the Devils cannot afford a major contract for also-soon-to-be free agent Zach Parise and Brodeur. Knowing this, Brodeur may have hired Brisson just in-case the Devils do not have the money to re-sign him.
Certainly, yes, this is big news. Most people will take this as bad news, but, Brodeur is thinking with his interests' in mind. With what he has done for the state of New Jersey -- he could be considered as a major reason why there is even a hockey team in the state.
For the panicking Devils fans out there: relax. These things will work themselves out. Brodeur has made it clear on several occasions how highly he feels about the New Jersey Devils. He would not sign elsewhere without giving Lamoriello and the Devils a chance to match or sign him in their own contract.
As Sunday approaches, several questions remain. But for now, those questions will have to wait to be answered.
For the rest of Devils Army, sit back and trust the team that has given everyone a reason to believe since 1982.