New Jersey Devils are passing a torch or three along the way to what looks like a “dig in your heels” rebuild. The first sign of the almighty New Jersey Devils torch of fire being passed along is that of goal tending; this year could mark a significant amount of starts in-goal by someone other than Martin Brodeur. Cory Schneider acquired from the Vancouver Canucks at the NHL entry draft this summer for a 9th pick overall should get the bulk of the starts for the Devils this year. This could be a year that showcases many shots on Schneider that may not help his bid to make the United States Olympic Ice Hockey team.
New Jersey Devils – Ilya Kovalchuk Contract sets the Build Back
July of this year the former 50 goal scorer (never with the Devils) decided the National Hockey League was not for him. At the age of 30, Kovlchuck left $77million and 12 years remaining on his contract. Leaving behind the massive contract and a final tally of 417 goals 816 total points in 816 NHL games before bolting for the Russian KHL. Kovalchuck was a pure point a game player.
Much has been said about that massive contract that Kovalchuck signed back in the summer of 2010. General Manager Lou Lamoriello and the front office made a crucial mistake that summer; in an attempt to sign a 17 year contract for Kovalchuck at a whopping $102million they circumvented the NHL bargaining agreement. The NHL ripped up the contract and then levied a penalty against the New Jersey Devils for a total of $3 million, a third round draft pick in 2011 NHL entry draft and one future first round draft pick within the next four seasons.
The draft pick being given up by the New Jersey Devils will be this 2014 Entry Draft first round. This doesn’t help the rebuild in any way shape of form. With the team off to such a bad start the draft pick looks like it would end up part of the lottery they would be entered into with all other teams that don’t make the playoffs this 2013-2014 season. That lottery not have the New Jersey Devils included this year.
The Blame Game – New Jersey Devils Lou on the Firing Line
This August the teams new owners Joshua Harris and David Blitzer, the first decision they made was to keep the 71-year-old Lou Lamoriello in charge of hockey operations. NHL Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in the builders category and United States Hockey Hall of Fame inductee won’t make it until the end of the season. If the New Jersey Devils continue the downward spiral it isn’t the environment for 71-year-old Lamoriello to begin a rebuild.
Pete DeBoer was at the helm as the team started to tank at the end of last season. Lou and the team are still standing strong behind the coach as the team slides further in the standings. How much longer will that continue? New Jersey Devils only won 23 games in the shortened season last year. The Devils finished with a 141 goals against. Currently the team has one win and a goal differential of -14 for the 2013-2014 season.
Why the coach will stay and Lou is out the door
It is believed that in this new NHL a rebuild may take a few years to accomplish, in the meantime a new fresh young front office should be built. The old school Lou that has served the team since 1997 has done his part and built a dynasty that includes 5 visits to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Of those 5 visits to the finals 3 of them produced Stanley Cups. The great New Jersey Devils dynasty Lou built has crumbled. Lou and Brodeur need to pass the torch and begin to allow a new New Jersey Devils front office and goalie to emerge. Rebuilding the New Jersey Devils back into playoff form without a first round pick this year will be a huge hill to climb. A hill that needs a fresh new look by stock piling picks and building the farm from the bottom to top.
Juien BriseBois current General Manager of the AHL Syracuse Crunch and Assistant GM for the Tampa Bay Lightning is the perfect candidate for the job. The 36-year-old cut his teeth as Director of Hockey Operations with the NHL Montreal Canadiens to start his career 10 years ago.
Pete DeBoer will be given enough time to help build this team. His patience will outshine anyone else ready to take on the job. After all DeBoer was part of some dismal seasons at head of the helm with the Florida Panthers between 2008-2011. I have a feeling that the ownership will allow him to continue as head coach and send Lou packing.
The legend that is Lou Lamoriello will be given a golden handshake and be asked to take on a role within hockey operations in New Jersey that won’t include day-to-day decisions.