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.


  1. Yeah I have an idea who this was from, it’s pretty good.

    Until the Gomez trade I was deathly afraid the Gomez-Gionta reunion would be happening in Broadway, at least Sather’s cap issues spared us that one.

    I’m also getting the feeling Lou’s greasing the skids for Lemaire with the youth movement, but then again if he was the slam dunk we all thought surely he would have been hired by now? Guess we’ll have to see after the holiday.

  2. mrsheeps says:

    Habs were already a “second” team to me. Have you seen a game there? The atmosphere is incredible.

    I liked Gionta because he’s from Rochester and so am I. Plus he’s awesome.

  3. I agree with sheepsie — Montreal is AMAZING. I’ve gone to a game out there every year for the past four or five years now. It’s like, uh, crack for hockey fans out there.

    sheeps, didn’t you take a semester out there?

  4. I’ve been to Montreal, I don’t think the author had… funny… I like Toronto better… less French stuff 🙂

  5. I like how this post has also become a “last-chance-to-use-our-‘brian-gionta-is-short’-pictures” memorial.

    I’m gonna miss you, Brian Gionta On Blue Steps On The Ice.

  6. I tried hard to find a way to incorporate the blue steps picture into the post but it just didn’t seem to fit.

    Gosh, we’re screwed if Weekes does end up leaving too.

    Thank goodness Ilkka has a silly last name, we might be able to work with his Pokemon style.

  7. Zubbie Counter Fan says:

    Lou: Pikkarainen, I choose you!

  8. mrsheeps says:

    @ RD – Yeah one semester, went to two games during that semester (both Devils). Also saw Vancouver there two years later, complete with a trip to the Bar-B-Barn (delicious BBQ) and Brutopia (delicious beer). I’m going to try and see a Leafs vs Habs game this year, if I can manage to get tickets…

  9. There’s a place in Montreal with delicious beer named Brutopia? Dear god, I have to get up there one day. Doubt next season, but maybe the one after…

  10. DancingQueen says:

    Josh if Barker becomes a free agent, because of the screw up with the contract offers.

    Whom would you rather sign him our Saku?

  11. Honestly, DancingQueen, I think I’d prefer Saku. The reason being necessity, though. Obviously I’d love to have Cam Barker on this team, but our D’s solid for the time being (4th best in the league last year, I believe).

    We need a second line center desperately next year (show of hands – who wants Zubbie centering the second line? Didn’t think so.)

    The problem with Cam Barker is, if he does become an unrestricted free agent because of Chicago’s blunder, everyone knows about it, and either a) everyone’s going to be falling all over each other to get him, or b) Chicago’s going to pay out the nose to retain him. So I honestly don’t think Barker’s a realistic possibility for us.

    Of course, if I’m wrong, I’d be fine with that too 🙂

    Check out this bit from the most recent update of the TSN article following the Chicago deal:

    In 2000, the New Jersey Devils forgot to file the paperwork to renew the contracts for Brian Rafalski and John Madden.

    Rafalski was scheduled to make $450,000, while Madden would have earned $550,000 had the mistake not been made.

    Instead, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello was forced to pay market value rather than allow his two stars to go free.

    Rafalski agreed to a 4-year, $11 million dollar extension. Madden signed a 4-year, $7 million dollar deal.

    While not identical scenarios, the Devils paid the price for a clerical mistake.

    I do not remember this at all. Of course, I was graduating high school at the time and not following hockey as closely. Weird, eh?

  12. wow…sheepsy! long time no see. Had they signed Gio here, that would’ve been a nightmare. Esp for what he got.

    anyway, i like this article bc of Gionta is the little engine that could and proves that heart and determination along with hard work can pay off. Tho I hated him. that rivalry thing.

  13. Brutopia is pretty amazing…but i find Les 3 Brasseurs (corner of rue Crescent & St. Catherine) better…also in the Latin Quarters of Montreal (2049, ru st-denis) there’s an amazing brew pub called “L’amere a boire”

  14. lol we ran out of ppl to put in the top right corner of the official newjerseydevils website they put pandolfo ther……im not sayin i dislike the guy but i mean com’on