This one-a-day was written for the blog by Tuorto. We thank her for her assistance on this team.
Being Pens fans at heart it is a little difficult to keep this division's teams write-ups unbiased.
New Jersey Devils
There were no New Jersey Devils when I was a young’un; we were Flyers fans back then. However, when you get a home team, it is appropriate to be supportive. In Devils-land, the word ‘supportive’ refers as much to cheering them during the horrible early years and to our three Stanley Cup wins as it does to hollering sage advice like “stop spending too much time at the vending machine, eh, Marty?” during games. It is all in the spirit of helping the team win. Even though we dish it out to our boys, we don’t like it when others do. That means you, Wayne Gretzky (you think we forgot?) and Rangers fans.
The 2010-11 season was challenging. Parise spent most of the year injured, John McLean’s tenure as head coach was vomit-inducing (and I don’t think all the blame should be laid at Johnny Mac’s feet for that), and it is becoming increasingly apparent that Brodeur and Lou Lamoriello are aging out of the system. However – what a second half! I’ll throw down the gauntlet and say that the Devils were the best team in the NHL through much of the second half of the season. Was it the return of head coach Jacques Lemaire? Did Ken Daneyko kick ass on the entire defensive corps? The big question is - will it last into 2011-12? Because not making the playoffs sucks worse than the Rangers.
The legendary Lou Lamoriello
The Devils were always a true team; even the stars, like Scott Stevens, were simply a part of the system and played their roles. So when Lou signed Kovalchuk in 2010, it was out of character. Parise, who is undoubtedly the next generation of franchise player, narrowly avoided arbitration and signed for one more year at $6 million; it is hoped that a long-term deal will be worked out after the New Year. I’m confused by all this. Hopefully Lou is done putting himself behind the bench and will go back to being the ultimate pimp of GMs.
Peter DeBoer, late of the underwhelming Florida Panthers
This is the 9th coaching change since 2005.
He’s no looker like Larry Robinson…but as long as he coaches like him, all is forgiven.
Well, since we traded our captain in April, that slot is currently vacant. Perhaps the heir apparent is one of the alternates – Patrick Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk (Lord, I hope not), or Zach Parise. Maybe Scott Stevens will drink from the fountain of youth and come back refreshed and ready to lay dudes out. I can dream, people.
Player(s) everyone should love
Johan Hedberg – 2.38 GAA for Mooooooose
Zach Parise – he’s got the heart of a champion, soft hands, beaucoup skating skills, and finesse to spare
Let’s also give props to the elder statesmen…
Martin Brodeur (is the 2011-12 season going to be his swan song?) & Patrick Elias
And Mark Fayne deserves a cookie. +10 in 57 games played
Player we don’t love
Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk. KOVALCHUK!
Here’s the math, friends –
-26 (worst +/- rating on the team)
I know he was the goal leader with 31, but for that paycheck, he’d better become the second coming of Rocket Richard.
Ilya – I’ll break it down real easy for you.
Who they got
Adam Larsson via draft (signed to an entry-level deal for 3 years)
Eric Boulton via Atlanta/Winnipeg
Cam Janssen via recycling (The Devils were “green” before it became the hipster thing to do – we love to recycle players and coaching staff.)
Who they lost
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, Brian Rolston, Colin White
Someone needs to explain why Rolston, who was pretty much our only hard shot from the point, went to the Islanders for Trent Hunter, who was placed on waivers almost immediately, and then traded. W. T. F?!?!?
We also lost our über-announcer, Mike “Doc” Emrick; thankfully, he will continue to work on NBC/Versus. There is no one more exciting calling games in all of the NHL. Devils fans are praying to be spared the vocal stylings of the likes of Sam Rosen in the future. Doc, I take my toque off to you!
Travis Zajac is going to be out for a while with a busted Achilles, which means that we’ve lost one of our offensive forces for the first few weeks of the regular season. Has the Injury Monster reared its ugly head already?
I swear this is what came up in Yahoo Images when I searched for “injury monster nhl.” Go ahead…try it!
And I know it’s been a while, but I am still in mourning for the loss of Mike Peluso. He is my forever hockey husband. How didn’t you melt at the end of Game 4 (Cup-clinching game) in ’95, when Mike was in the throes of a crying jag?
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
“The Rock” is really much better than the previous home of the Devils, Brendan Byrne Arena. Oh, you don’t recognize that name? It was the name of the old arena on Route 3 before Continental Airlines threw up its insignia all over it. Anyway, this arena is in walking distance from my place of business, which means free parking for games. It just needs to be consecrated with a Cup win.
Hotness level 6
David Clarkson’s eyes and sexy smirk…
Zach Parise’s everything…
Brodeur, alas, has gone to fat, we sent Arnott’s fine ass away, and we didn’t draft Gabriel Landeskog. Demerits all around.
LET’S GO DEVILS!