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.

Devils @ Lightning LIVECAP!

7:36 PM: Alright, so I’m gonna go get something to drink, then start my 2MA overtime shift, updating the ZUBBIECOUNTER four times over. See everyone soon!

7:34 PM: Final statline:
Zubrus – four goals
Elias – three asists, eleven points in the last five games
Salmela – two assists
Leach earns his first NHL point with an assist
Rupp notches his first goal of the year
Gionta has scored in four consecutive games

7:32 PM: And that’s the game! 7-3 Devils – save for a harrowing couple of minutes late in the second, a very well played game all-around.

7:30 PM: One minute remaining in this splendid game.

7:28 PM: Lost in the ZubbieMadness is the fact that Elias currently sits with three assists, adding to his insane point totals in the last five games.

7:26 PM: Anssi Salmela with a pretty blatent trip and the ‘Ning head to the power play.

7:35 PM: ZUBBIE AGAIN! Holy ZUBBIECOUNTERMELTDOWN BATMAN! 7-3 Devils, FOUR goals for Zubrus!

7:21 PM: Not much going on right now. Probably a good thing, my heart can only take so much.

7:19 PM: I’ll take Tampa’s use of Ole! by Bouncing Souls as a good sign for us. Because I liked Ole! as our goal song, I don’t care what anyone else says.

7:15 PM: My goodness, this game oughtta be like 10-3 right now. Elias with a wide open net, can’t get much on the shot and Ramo gloves it down.

7:11 PM: ‘nother Clarkaround try, nothing doing. Man the ZUBBIECOUNTER is gonna be back in full force tonight.

7:09 PM: ZUBTRICK! ZUBTRICK! ZUBTRICK!!! Beautiful breakaway backhand and DAINIUS ZUBRUS HAS SCORED A HAT TRICK!!

7:06 PM: Oh jebus. Langenbrunner with a rather wide open net, sends it high.

7:02 PM: We’re not looking good this period. Luckily, however, neither are the ‘Ning.

6:59 PM: Okay, we’re back for the third period. Again, we’re pretending the last seven minutes of the second period were a terrible nightmare and nothing more. Let’s get it on.

6:42 PM: Okay, end of the second period. I’m willing to act like the last seven minutes didn’t happen if the Devils are as well. Let’s just keep in mind that it’s still a two goal lead going into the third period. I’ll be back then.

6:40 PM: I miss Kolzig.

6:37 PM: Another goal would be REAL nice right now. I liked Tampa Bay as a place better when the building was silent.

6:35 PM: …who scores on it. 5-3 Devils. Uhm…this ain’t good.

6:34 PM: Pando! That was not kosher! Pando breaks up the breakaway, but not in the usual Devils manner, and now it’s a penalty shot for Malone.

6:31 PM: Oh dear. St. Louis with a goal on the 4-on-4 and now it’s 5-2. Okay guys, that’s enough feeling bad for Tampa now…

6:30 PM: Devils penalty now, Zajac for interference. Sigh. Four-on-four now. for about a minute and twenty.

6:29 PM: Hey, penalty on the Bolts. Good deal! Too many men on the ice.

6:28 PM: Damn. Radim Vrbata taps one in and it’s 5-1 Devils. Oh well.

6:23 PM: We’ve still got over seven minutes to go in the second. Gionta’s goal is his sixth on the year and makes it four straight games that he’s potted a puck.

6:21 PM: 5-0 DEVILS! Beautiful screen by Zubrus and Gionta gets the goal. Kari Ramo is now in net for the ‘Ning, as the red n’ black have chased Olie the Goalie.
6:19 PM: Clemmensen with a couple of good saves. Actually, our D looks real good tonight too. We just look good all around. Weird, huh?

6:17 PM: Salvador goes to the box for hooking. He feels shame.

6:15 PM: Couple of nice stops by Clemmensen. I’m rather impressed with Clemmer’s play since Marty’s injury. But his amazing play almost makes me sad, because I feel terrible for Kevin Weekes. However, I’ll take a non-sucky Clemmer over a sucky Clemmer any day.

6:12 PM: Penalty kill’t.

6:10 PM:Devils PK hits the ice as Colin White (who got an assist on the second Zubbie goal) goes off for tripping.

6:07 PM: Oh. My. God. ZUBBIE AGAIN! Zubrus fights the puck past the pads of Kolzig and it’s 4-0 Devils. ZUBBIECOUNTER is working overtime today.

6:03 PM: Zubbie! ZUBBIE! CRAP I DON’T HAVE THE COUNTER READY! 3-0 Devils and the World-Famous ZUBBIECOUNTER will notch up one more when this game has ended!

6:02 PM: They’re reviewing it, though it’s pretty clearly no goal.

6:01 PM: Oh myyyy some beautiful passing on the PP but Kolzig stones Zajac with his stick. Good looking power play so far.

5:59 PM: Devils remain on the power play to begin this period.

5:58 PM: We’re back y’all. Second period, underway.

5:42 PM: And a very good first period is in the books, Devils lead 2-0. See you in seventeen.

5:39 PM: Devils hit the power play, holding on…a Bolt. Less than a minute left in period #1.

5:38 PM: BIG save by Kolzig on Langenbrunner.

5:36 PM: Whoo! Clemmensen makes a wicked save on a deflection, play comes up to the other end. Clarkson draws a penalty, passes to Salmela who threatens to shoot multiple times but dumps it off to Leach, who passes to Parise coming off the bench. Parise with the blast and it’s 2-0 Devils! A beautiful play from beginning to end.

5:33 PM: I think Clarkson just tried a Clarkaround without even having the puck on his stick…

5:27 PM: Clarkaround try! Missed entirely. You keep trying though Clarkie. Someday…Someday…

5:25 PM: Big blasts from the defense by Martin and Salvador. We almost look like we’re on a power play right now. It’s kind of weird, seeing a team not called the Devils play like we usually do.

5:23 PM: Ten minutes in, and not much interesting going on since Rupp’s goal. A nice chance for Zubrus/Elias, but the pass was not on target, so nothing doing there.

5:21 PM: Bryce Salvador is a defensive BEAST. To think, we got this guy for Cam Janssen. I love-ed Cam Janssen, but…man did we ever win on that trade.

5:19 PM: I would LiveCap a game that MSG+ seems to have issues with broadcasting. Eesh. All is well now though. I think

5:17 PM: Scott Clemmensen’s been wearing 35 this year, but the back of his helmet still says 40. This amuses me for some reason, that he hasn’t bothered to get it re-painted.

5:14 PM: Third jersey rant time: If you’re gonna go with writing out your name, write out YOUR TEAM’S NAME! NOT SOME LAME NICKNAME! I’m looking at you, “Bolts” and “Sens”. Thankfully we’ll never have to see a third jersey that says “Devs” on it.

5:11 PM: Holy crap Mike Rupp scores! Deflects a shot/pass from Anssi Salmela five-hole through Kolzig. Beautiful tip. 1-0 Devils.

5:09 PM: Puck meets ice and we’re underway. Olaf Kolzig’s in net for the ‘Ning.

5:07 PM: Oh, and Jay Leach is up to replace Mottau. Yippie.

5:02 PM: To get us all up to date: Mottau’s suspended for tonight’s game as well as Wednesday’s. Madden remains out with a sore foot. Clemmensen’s in net after Weekes posted the win Friday. The Lightning’s third jersey is muy ugly. We good? We good.

4:43 PM: Devils take on the ‘Ning, 5 PM eastern. Stick with us!