Devils Light Some Fireworks on the Fourth

The New Jersey Devils lit some fireworks of their own on the 4th of July by taking care of a number of in-house free agents.

According to ESPN, center Patrik Elias is going to become a lifetime New Jersey Devil after agreeing on a three-year deal worth $16.5 million.

With that kind of money, he may just do some college football betting.

The 37 year-old is the Devil’s all time franchise leader in goals (375) and assists (555). He is also third in games played with 1090 over his 17 year career.

“To [general manager] Lou [Lamoriello], all my teammates and Devils fans, I’m excited to sign a new contract and be back with New Jersey,” Elias said in a statement released through his agent. “This year marks my 17th year with the Devils, and it’s very special to be a member of one organization for my entire career. We’ve shared some great moments together, and I look forward to working with everyone to create new ones. Go Devils!”

Elias has won two Stanley cups with the Devils after being drafted in the second round of the 1995 draft. He said at the end of last season, which he scored 14 goals with 22 assists in 48 games, that he wanted to come back to Newark.

Also returning to the Rock is veteran forward Dairnius Zubras, who inked a three-year,  $9.3 million contract. A person familiar with the deal revealed the terms to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Devils didn’t release those numbers.

Zubrus is a 16-year NHL veteran, who has spent the past six seasons with New Jersey.

Of course, the Devils may still lose a number of unrestricted free agents. David Clarkson will test the market when it opens on Friday, while forwards, Steve Sullivan, Alexei Ponikarovsky and defenseman Marek Zidlicky are also eligible to become unrestricted free agents.

Also not returning to Newark will be goalie Johan Hedberg, who was bought out of the final season of his contact, which was set to count as $1.4 million against the salary cap, according to the Newark Star Ledger.

The 40 year-old was expendable after the Devils acquired Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks on draft day. Hedberg spent the last three seasons backing up Marty Brodeur.

 

Pre-Pre Season Rookie Camp Scrimmage… Thoughts from.. ahhh, wherever the hell I was sitting…

Now I know summer time filler ain’t my thing, but this worked out PERFECTLY…. a Friday Night i was in and fell asleep before 4am…. a new coach… new outlook on life… and time to put the miserable feelings and hatred and anger (not like my personal life mirrored the way the Devils season went… oh no no no no :p)…. Season tickets are all but paid (I got kinda lucky, a customer’s entire network took a shit… and hey it paid the STH bill… I love IT!)… and it’s time to start letting ALL (and I do mean ALL) the miserable feelings and hatred go to the wayside and get re-vamped on life and Devils hockey!!!

So before I start, I’ve answered it a million times, and lemme steal my mystery friend’s FAQ section:

— Scott: Aren’t you freaking out because the Devils lost all those players and didn’t sign no one??
NO… in fact the opposite… I’m jacked up about it… those guys took us as far as they would go, and it’s time to pass the torch as it was from Richer/Lemieux/MacLean and Driver…. and then to Elias/Stevens/Niedermommy… and NOW it’s FINALLY time… it’s time for this THIRD generation of Devils talent (Zajac/Parise/Martin… soon to be Corrente, Eckford, Bergfors and Tedneby) to GET THE HELL OUT THERE and make THEIR mark on Devils hockey now and forever!!!! And that’s just awesome to me… this is how you WIN in the NHL… you maximize your cheap talent… surround it with GOOD talent… keep the team kinda young and enhance your core!!!

— But Scott, what if the rookies suck??
… and the vets didn’t?? How many times did Gionta shoot it right into the logo… or Madden not that accurate… and Mister NoGoalik was just a FORCE the second time around right??? I’ll take a young guy who will improve and has UPSIDE over an old fart ready to fall off the cliff ANYDAY!!

— so, Scott are you past your hatred of Martin Brodeur yet??
… no… fuck him… mb30 still pisses me off and it’s the ONLY thing I like about Lemaire being here (well aside his teaching ability)… he’s the only coach who made our prick “superstar” sit his ass on some pine!

Anyway… before this becomes a 500-page tangent… Let’s get to today’s goodness!!
Instead of the good the bad and the funny, I think I’ll take it player by player and add some overall comments too:

62: Mattias Tedenby:
HOLY SHIT was he a man amongst boys today (if you’re on my facebook and if not dammit why not??) you saw me RAVING about him left right and sideways!! The kid is FAST as anything… he’s always making moves (I don’t think there was one shift where he didn’t beat a player one on one and do something with it).. he didn’t score today but he didn’t NEED to… he was the best damned guy on the ice today BY FAR!! I think he gets a legit shot in training camp… I know he was playing lesser talent, but he had the LOOK, the moves, the feel and the swagger of an NHL-Ready player today!

10: Rod Pelley:
Bleech… didn’t do much, but then again… I don’t expect much from him….
he’s been pretty much handed a spot on the roster… so be it….
Facebook status comment: “rod pelley is the new pandolfo”

52: Nick Palmeri:
Me and Rob kept commenting on how much he was dragging the Tedenby line down today… slow… plodding… stone hands all over the place… our luck he plays good defense and makes the team… given it’s ONE GAME and anyone can suck on any given day… but that today was also Pandolf-ian, I don’t think he lasts long in camp

34: Matt Corrente:
Did not play shoulder injury… that bummed me… i was gonna focus on him as much as the “MagicSwede” as we named #62 today

51: PL^3… also looked like you’d expect…threw some hits… raised some hell… ran a goalie (I still get mad when goalies don’t jump up and attempt murder like I would….) had a nice two stuff and tip play in front of the far nets from us and tried to lobby like hell for the goal…. but was not meant to be!!!

Jeff Frazee:
Looked pretty good even in the losing effort (well aside from the penalty shot… he got deke-man-willied to hell on that one) and was the best of the three goalies today… no clue which one was Long and which was Felice… goalies are not worthy of numbers it seems 🙁

50: Matt Halishcuk…scored.. was in front of the net alot and did a LOT of good things today… I liked what I saw of him and he’s gonna get a two fingered serious look in camp for sure!!

66: Derek Rodwell… of the guys I knew nothing about, our 5th round pick impressed the HELL out of me… good size… good hands… plays a bit nasty and scored a penalty shot goal… he’s a guy to keep an eye on…..

Didn’t really notice our Russians in Zharkov or Vasyunov (though he did have a nice point blank chance to ice it late and blew it!), Jacob Josefson looked overwhelmed and not ready yet, which is ok too… and there was one fight which I am uploading on the youtube as I type this!!!

Goals:
(1-0) Eckford.. jumped into the slot and ripped a wrister clean over the goalie… pretty stuff!
(1-1) Cormier… stuffed home a rebound on Frazee off the near post
(2-1, white) Halischuk… a sweet move in front where he was given WAY too much time… waits.. looks… dekes.. TOP SHELF… you get served!! (team white’s D was not so hot at best)
(2-2) Eric Castonguay is ALL ALONE in front again and rips one of BOTH POSTS and somehow in the net… he was this close to blowing it… which would have probably gotten him a roster spot!
(3-2, black) Derek Rodwell…. who like I said before was impressive… penalty shot goal… to be youtubed ASAP
(3-3) Griner… a long wrister from the point…hits goalie (not frazee) in the shoulder, then off the stick and in…yeah Chico he’s gonna want that save back :p
(4-3)Mcintrye a penalty shot goal that can only be called UBER-POWNAGE!! Video to follow (in lieu of penalty calls they get penalty shots)

Most of the Devils staff and higher-ups were there… saw Stevens on one team… saw Lou and Terreri… and Sergei Brylin too!! (poor Sarge… he looked like he just woke up and had a WICKED hangover too :p)

How’s that for a lil piece of October in July???
Once the videos are all up… I’ll let ya know… or just keep an eye on http://www.youtube.com/crashliner

IT’S A TRAP!

Jacques Lemaire, to the surprise of absolutely no one who follows hockey at all, is the new head coach of the Devils.  God help us all.

I’m going to give this a month or two before deciding whether it’s a bad move or not, but it doesn’t feel good right now. Lemaire is terribly old-school, and the Devils were finally turning into a strong forechecking team, and a pretty exciting one at that.

On the other hand, Lemaire, while successful with the Wild, wasn’t THAT successful, and he’s gotta know that at his age (64 in September), this is his last shot to prove that he can win in the new NHL. Maybe he can change. Probably not, but stranger things have happened.

Hey, at least Brian Rolston can be counted on for a good chunk of goals this year. It was under Lemaire that he scored 30+ per season for three years before signing with the Devils last year.

For those wondering, Lemaire brings Mario Tremblay with him as assistant coach. The Devils retain Tommy Albelin, and Johnny MacLean moves down to Lowell as the new head coach there. Congrats to Johnny Mac, as this, I think, essentially guarantees him the Devils head coaching job in two years.

It’s definitely a decision that leaves us much to discuss for the rest of the summer. Your thoughts, ladies and gentlemen?

It’s coming…

According to the Devils Twitter feed (and other “traditional” sources, I GUESS), the Devils have a “Major Announcement” set for 1:30 PM today.  Gee, I wonder what it could possibly be.

Actually, instead of wondering, here’s the line on what today’s Major Announcement will be:

Jacques Lemaire as Coach:  1.5-to-1
Lou himself as Coach:  2-to-1
Devils sign low-level free agent: 2.5-to-1
Mike Haviland as Coach: 8-to-1
Lou is resigning to run a Panera Bread:  10-to-1
Devils sign mid-level free agent: 20-to-1
Scott Stevens as Coach: 100-to-1
Mike Keenan as Coach: HA-HA!-to-1
Devils sign high-level free agent: Snowball’s-Chance-to-Hell
Other: 25-to-1

So get your bets in and stick with us! We’ll have the announcement up as soon as it’s out, here, on our Facebook page (friend us! facebook.com/2manadvantage) and on our Twitter feed (follow us! @2MAblog)

Guess we have to retire the Weekes Laser

Black ‘n Red continued their mad spending spree this morning, signing goaltender Yann Danis to a contract. Terms are unknown at this time.

Danis spent last season on Long Island, posting a 10-17-3 record in 31 games played (29 starts). The 28-year-old Quebec native posted a 2.84 GAA with a .910 save percentage.

Oh, and he also had three shutouts.

While we outstretch our arms to Mr. Danis, we must take a moment and mourn the loss of backup goaltender Kevin Weekes.

‘Kay, he didn’t die or anything, but we totally loved using the Weekes Laser. Sheesh. First Gionta, now this?

This hasn’t been a good month here at 2MA I’m afraid.

Rest in Peace, Laser. Rest in Peace.

We sure are going to miss you.

F(ree Agency) This.

Us Devils fans are a naive bunch.

It’s the only period over the course of a seemingly never-ending summer that a hockey fan can get their fix. Free Agency. It’s irresistible to wonder over the possibilities of who could be lacing up their skates in your building come October.

Could Marian Hossa be coming to town? Nope – Chicago locked him up forever. Maybe sniper Mike Cammalleri will be suiting up in Black ‘N Red next year? Nah, he’d rather Blue ‘n Red. Havlat? Nope. Gaborik? Ha. Niedermayer coming home?? Pshh. Perhaps we could bolster the blueline with guys like Mike Komisarek or Mattias Ohlund? Nien. Ok, we’re obviously saving money for Koivu… or not.

But I’ll tell you what we can do… We can say goodbye to one-third of our starting forwards and wish good will to the goaltender who saved our arses last season. Wait…wha?!

So thus far it’s a big See Ya! to John Madden, Brian Gionta, Bobby Holik, Scott Clemmensen, and Mike Rupp. And a great big how-do-ya-do to… Ilkka Pikkarainen.

Ugh.

Last year it seemed as if Lou was trying to reunite the rosters of glory days-past. This year, the reunion will be ending with an awkward and uncomfortable orientation.

But, then again — it’s Free Agency and we’re Devils fans.

I mean, really.

Rantings of a coping Gionta fan… the FAQs on a Free Agency Defection

Let me start by saying THIS IS NOT MY BLOG… NOR MY FEELINGS (well it hits a lot of what I feel about Madden jumping ship)… but when you see and read something damn good on the internets and you can ask the person and they don’t mind sharing it… the name protected (well unless you know me well you know who this is :p)…. but I figured it was a great and personal perspective on the pains of free agency in the NHL

Is it true? With the signing of Brian Gionta, the Montreal Canadiens are now your second-favorite team?

Yes, for every second that Gionta is there.

Um, WTH? Who has second-favorite teams anyway? What are you, 12?

Yeah, many times I am. It explains why I still think it’s funny to use an excessive amount of swear words.

What about Scott Gomez?

What about him?

Well, don’t you hate him? How can you possibly root for the Habs when he’s on the team?

I got the “I’m a douchebag” vibes from Gomez even during his days in New Jersey. I just ignored it, and him in general, because he was a skilled player making a positive contribution to my favorite team, even helping them win two Stanley Cups, despite his flaws, which of course came out in full force once he jumped across the Hudson. So yes, I still hate him, and he deserves to be eaten alive by the Montreal media and fans for performing well-under expectations. I will laugh if/when that happens. However, my love for Gio far exceeds my hatred for Gomez, so I am pulling for Gio and the Habs to be successful. Yes, that probably means Gomez is going to need to have at least some degree of success, especially since he and Gio will probably be on the same line, as they have been since they were teenagers playing for Team USA and as they were when Gionta broke the Devils’ single-season goal-scoring record. I’ve had plenty of practice ignoring Gomez as a Devil and can do the same with him as a Hab. So what if he has success? It’s actually a win-win situation because Gomez having success would twist the knife in Glen Sather’s heart, especially if injuries strike Gaborik yet again.

Why do you like Gionta so much? Why is it so easy for you to move on and pull for the Habs?

For those who haven’t heard the story yet, I have been a huge Brian Gionta fan since 1998, his freshman year of college, before he was ever drafted. I watched him play for BC during the NCAA Tournament (the Eagles, who also had Clemmensen and Mottau on the team, made it all the way to the final before losing in OT to Michigan that year) and was just in awe of the energy, determination, speed and heart this kid played with, and, at 5’5.5″ (his REAL height :P), to overcome the odds to play at this inspiring level. He’s a special player, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually said that about anyone before. I knew this was a player I had to follow throughout his playing career. On draft day that summer, I would have felt very grateful if he were picked by any team except the Rangers or Flyers because as a Devils fan I automatically would have had to hate him. Never could I have imagined he’d actually be picked by my beloved Devils. It was my beautiful, unrealistic fantasy coming true. Just that moment was a bonus. Who would know that 11 years later, this little guy from Rochester would not only be drafted by the Devils, but he would win a Stanley Cup with them, break the team’s single-season goal scoring record, and play 6+ wonderful years here. Talk about a bonus. I hit the jackpot. Because this was all a bonus, I can say with all sincerity that I am so appreciative of the time he spent in New Jersey. The way I look at it, Gionta could have been drafted by the Habs in 1998, and I would have been pulling for them then (or actually not until 2001ish after Gio graduated). I am grateful that he didn’t sign with a division rival; otherwise I’d be in no position to cheer him. At all. So no, this is not easy losing Gionta, but it’s definitely workable.

Wait, so if the Habs and Devils are playing and Gionta scores, are you going to cheer for him?

Of course not! The Devils remain my number 1 priority. My passion for the Devils far exceeds my Gionta fandom. So Brian, no scoring against New Jersey. Don’t make me boo you. I’ll do it, I swear.

I heard that you have Gionta and Madden wallpapers on your home and work computers, respectively, and you purchased only Gionta and Madden hockey gear at the Devils’ latest equipment sale. Is it true that you jinxed the two veterans into leaving New Jersey?

I have no jinxing powers once the hockey season has concluded. However, I CAN tell you that Scott Mackie has a Clemmensen voodoo doll and is directly responsible for his signing with Florida.

Are you mad at Gionta for leaving? Are you mad at Lou for letting him go?

No, and no. Gionta expressed a sincere desire to remain in New Jersey. It sounds like he didn’t get much of an offer, if anything, from the Devils, and I really can’t blame him for taking $5M for 5 yrs. from Montreal. He made a good decision. As far as Lou, I know he has put the welfare of the team before everything else, and as desperately as I wanted Gionta to stay (Madden too. Both those guys were perfect examples of what Devils hockey is all about), Lou has earned my trust over the years. If he thinks the Devils need a change and that the young guys are ready, then I believe there’s a good chance he’s right. In fact, when, to top off all the ridiculousness of July 1, Lou’s dramatic signing turned out to be Finnish forward Ilkka Pikkarainen, I could only imagine what brilliant secret Lou (a man talented at finding random gems in Europe) knew that no one else did. Well, we all know the secret, but Lou UNDERSTANDS it. The salary cap is going to drop and a lot of teams will be fucked while the Devils keep plugging along and fighting back when everyone else thinks we’re down.

So you’re not freaking out that Lou hasn’t done shit during free agency while everyone else has?

Nope. Everyone seriously needs to chill out. This happens every July 1, and the Devils haven’t missed the playoffs in more than a decade. We still have all of our defensemen from last year (Minus Havelid, who doesn’t count because he was here for 2 secs. and, well, he’s Havelid). We have our top line and 2/3 worth of second line players in Elias and Rolston (though Elias is top line caliber and I think Rolston really should be a LW, so that’s a mess that the next coach is going to have to figure out because Rolston should NOT be on the third line). It’s more than sufficient to start out training camp with.

What do you think of the whole coaching situation?

With the Sutter situation, it is what it is. With the new coach (be it Lemaire or whomever… Lemaire is def. not the end of the world; he gets the most out of the players that he has and really teaches the young guys, something that wouldn’t be bad to have for a couple of years), if everyone keeps using that stupid cliche, hit the stationary bikes!!!

These signings just happened! How were you able to compile a list of FAQs so quickly?

They’re frequently ANTICIPATED questions. I am too lazy to develop/maintain a Web site/blog to develop a following and accumulate questions from it. Deal with it.

Maybe? Maybe?

Shifting our butts here for a minute (see: the darn post below this one), we have a brief update on one of the few coveted players actually remaining in the free agent frenzy of ’09.

Yes, I am talking about none other than Josh’s favorite Finn Saku Koivu. We have word tonight courtesy of David Pagnotta over at The Forth Period that Mr. Koivu is now mulling over a decision between at least four teams, one of which includes New Jersey.

Unfortunately, another includes a team that starts with a New York and ends in dollar $ign$.

Drats.

Alas, Koivu is apparently looking for at least a three-to-four year contract.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Saku is a heckuva player, but that’s a bit steep for an aging center who isn’t exactly the toughest guy in the world.

Oh, sure, he’s battled tons of injuries and cancer,  so he’s surely a warrior ‘n all that fun stuff, but I’m talkin’ ’bout longevity here. He’s no Marian Gaborik (see: laugh at the New York Rangers for signing him to a $583903-bagillion contract), but he’s also no, uh, insert-iron man-player-here.

Hey, what do you want from me? I’m still recovering from yesterday’s insanity.

Anyway, should we sign Koivu? Hey, we did add Ilkka Pikachu today so I mean, yeah, Saku would have a fellow Finn to be chummy with, but let’s be reasonable here — he may be asking for too much. With the cap certainly going down next year, it might not be the best idea taking on a long, hefty contract.

A cheaper, shorter-term fit for Black ‘n Red could be  Brendan Morrison. Think about it. Dude already fits Louie Lams’ number one prerequisite of being a former Devil. Pluuus, if he comes cheap and ends up sucking with us, we could surely dump him at the deadline for our annual mediocre defenseman that will do New Jersey absolutely no good come post season.

Low risk, high reward potential here. It’s absolutely genius. Well, provided we don’t somehow end up with Hal Gill next spring.

Oh gosh, sorry. Didn’t mean to scare the kids there.

Happy visions of Scott Stevens folks.

I sure miss the glory days.

Why don’t you take a seat?

It sucks to be a Devils fan if you have a fat ass.

…what, too blunt?

I apologize.

Let’s be frank here though. The round buns of many Devils fans far and wide (pun partially intended) are wedged between a Rock and a, well, plastic seat.

What the heck am I saying?

Oh, the seats are too cramped!

Or so says the organization and its fans, as Black ‘n Red has outright refused to pay $1.2-million to the Michigan-based seating company Irwin Seating.

Buggers filed a lawsuit against the Devils!

As reported by John Brennan over at NorthJersey.com, New Jersey ain’t payin’ ’cause Irwin Seating “failed to perform its obligations in accordance with the (January 2007) agreement.”

Ouch.

Common complaints across the Rock range from cramped, narrow seats to lack of cupholders (as previously promised, of course). The small seats make for very little arm and leg room between patrons. And forget about it if you’re a bit thicker — there ain’t much space for that derriere.

Some fans also argue the seats to be “too low,” making the sightlines a bit less than favorable. Granted, it won’t be as hard to spot Devils players next season with the departure of four-foot tall Brian Gionta, but STILL! Actually being able to see the game is always a plus, right?

So, what happens? Do we beg for Devils fans to enroll in Jenny Craig or should we unleash the wrath of a couple Newark thugs on Irwin Seating?

I kind of want to vote for the latter. If nothing else, it would at least be funny.

DEVILS MAKE A SIGNING!!!!!!!!!

Today the Devils signed former draft pick Ilkka Pikkarainen.

Exciting, right?

The 28-year-old forward spent the last three seasons in Finland, posting 24 goals and 13 assists for 37 points in 54 games last year. He also racked up 149 penalty minutes.

The 220 pound Pikkarainen should add a physical edge to the Devils roster, ‘specially after losing the amazing all-star Bobby Holik to retirement and the wonderfully mediocre Mike Rupp to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Orrrrr, could it be possible that the Finn was signed to potentially entice another European player to the join Black ‘n Red?

Saku, I’m talkin’ to you.

…I know, I know. One can dream, right?

Oh, yeah, for the sake of reporting, Pikka was the 218th pick in the 2002 Entry Draft for New Jersey.

Fancy.