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New Jersey's situation about to explode


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#1 Hockeytown0001

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:24 PM

Article by Detroit's own Nicholas J. Cotsonika.

The New Jersey Devils’ pursuit of Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) never really added up, and now that they have made their $100 million man a healthy scratch just eight games into his 15-year contract, it makes even less sense.

The specific reason why Kovalchuk didn’t play Saturday night might be a mystery. But whatever the reason, it’s clear there are serious issues within what has been a model NHL franchise – issues that probably can’t be solved easily.

After the Devils’ 6-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres – a loss that dropped them to 0-4-1 at home, a loss that left them in the basement of the Eastern Conference – coach John MacLean told reporters that scratching Kovalchuk was his decision alone. He said it was between them.

Ilya Kovalchuk has a minus-3 rating but has five points in seven games.
(Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
“I take responsibility for all my decisions that I make,” MacLean told reporters. “That’s including that decision and including responsibility for games.”

Kovalchuk has a minus-3 rating. But he has five points in seven games (two goals, three assists), tied for the team lead in scoring.

Did this stem from a disagreement between MacLean and Kovalchuk? From something Kovalchuk did off the ice? MacLean declined to elaborate, leaving everyone to guess and speculate, and he wouldn’t say whether Kovalchuk would play Sunday night in New York against the Rangers. Kovalchuk and general manager Lou Lamoriello were unavailable for interviews, and players told reporters they didn’t know what was going on.

It’s hard to buy that scratching Kovalchuk was MacLean’s decision alone. He’s a rookie coach dealing with the newly minted face of the franchise, and it wasn’t as simple as sitting one guy and popping in another. The Devils had to call up rookie winger Alexander Vasyunov(notes) from the minors during the day.

Think about that. The Devils decided to go with a 22-year-old kid who had never played an NHL game over one of the top goal-scorers in the game – after signing Kovalchuk to a 17-year, $102 million contract; after watching the NHL reject the contract and an arbitrator rule that it circumvented the salary cap; after signing him to another mega deal; after seeing that one go through only after the league and NHL Players’ Association amended the collective bargaining agreement; after being fined $3 million and losing two high draft picks for their initial transgression; after dressing as few as 15 skaters for a game because Kovalchuk had put them so tight against the cap.

As if that weren’t weird enough, consider this: Kovalchuk plays his best at left wing, but the Devils already have two excellent left wings – Zach Parise(notes) and Patrick Elias. So instead of putting their big-money player at the position where he has made a big impact in his career, they shifted him to the right wing.

And after the Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, 3-0, they didn’t give goaltender Martin Brodeur(notes) another start after the shutout. They threw in Johan Hedberg(notes) for the first time, only to watch him give up a goal on the first shot he faced and get yanked after allowing four goals on 15 shots.

The fans were not happy. And how could you blame them?

“We all feel horrible about that and horrible about the way [Hedberg] was treated [by the fans],” captain Jamie Langenbrunner(notes) told reporters. “He was out there battling as hard as he can, and he was put in a tough situation. He hadn’t played in nearly a month, and you want to go out there and give your best effort for him, and we didn’t do that.”

There is no question Lamoriello deserves blame. He has painted himself into a corner with too many high salaries and no-trade, no-movement clauses, leaving the team tight against the cap with no room to maneuver.

Some think the Kovalchuk deal wasn’t his idea but owner Jeff Vanderbeek’s, even though Lamoriello has denied that he was just following orders. Lamoriello has been considered one of the best general managers in the league for a long time. He didn’t go dumb overnight, did he?

Either way, the effect is the same. The Devils now have made a massive long-term commitment to a player whom their rookie coach says he decided not to play – after a big road victory, when the team badly needed more positive momentum after a poor start.

If the player is at fault – whatever the reason – that’s a horrible sign for the future. What do his teammates think of him? How can the coach get him going after this?

It isn’t as easy as simply firing the coach. That sends the message that the $100 million man is really the one in charge, perhaps setting up even more problems. And if the coach were at fault, well, then why would Lamoriello have let him scratch Kovalchuk in the first place?



I never would have imagined they'd have gotten off to such a horrid start.

Edited by Hockeytown0001, 26 October 2010 - 06:25 PM.

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#2 cusimano_brothers

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 06:53 PM

Mr. Vanderbeek's formula for filling the seats of the new arena was simple: throw a ton of money towards a one-trick pony. And, he would score big points with everyone by "luring" Kovalchuk away from the KHL. John MacLean will be the fall guy in this and he might be lucky if he lasts until Christmas. Is Larry Robinson still available?

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#3 edicius

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:01 PM

You expect to hear stories like this about the Islanders. But I'm not as surprised with this, honestly. Lamoriello's had problems with the salary cap ever since it was instituted and it's totally caught up with him now. Brodeur will be gone within a couple seasons (though some could argue he's already gone, what with his sub-par play this season and the past few playoffs) and the Devils will be without any kind of remotely reliable goaltending. They're probably going to lose Parise at the end of the season (who's really their only consistently good player right now) or possibly be forced to trade him at the deadline if they're out of the playoff race at that point, which isn't a stretch. Jersey will turn into the new Atlanta - a team with an overrated superstar and no supporting cast to speak of.

It's kind of a shame too, because I was just recently starting to enjoy watching Devils games. <_<

Mr. Vanderbeek's formula for filling the seats of the new arena was simple: throw a ton of money towards a one-trick pony. And, he would score big points with everyone by "luring" Kovalchuk away from the KHL. John MacLean will be the fall guy in this and he might be lucky if he lasts until Christmas. Is Larry Robinson still available?


I'm willing to bet Lou ends up behind the bench again, which will just be a recipe for more disaster.

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#4 Hockeytown0001

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:18 PM

You expect to hear stories like this about the Islanders. But I'm not as surprised with this, honestly. Lamoriello's had problems with the salary cap ever since it was instituted and it's totally caught up with him now. Brodeur will be gone within a couple seasons (though some could argue he's already gone, what with his sub-par play this season and the past few playoffs) and the Devils will be without any kind of remotely reliable goaltending. They're probably going to lose Parise at the end of the season (who's really their only consistently good player right now) or possibly be forced to trade him at the deadline if they're out of the playoff race at that point, which isn't a stretch. Jersey will turn into the new Atlanta - a team with an overrated superstar and no supporting cast to speak of.

It's kind of a shame too, because I was just recently starting to enjoy watching Devils games. <_<



I'm willing to bet Lou ends up behind the bench again, which will just be a recipe for more disaster.


I'm just waiting for that to happen.

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#5 GMRwings1983

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:38 PM

He was their best player in the playoffs last year and is leading them in scoring.

They have themselves to blame for the contract and not him. Instead of benching their North American underachieving stars, they bench the Russian guy who's currently their best player.

Gof****** figure.

Undoubtedly, he'll be blamed for all their woes this season, while Fatso will be let off the hook, with the media constanly talking about his HOF career and how he's the best goalie ever and all that BS.

They're pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Right now this team needs a goalie that steals games, and not some used trophy case who's earned all his fame from playing around great defensemen in a great system.
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#6 Hockeytown0001

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:57 PM

I'd love to find out exactly what it was that Kovy did enough to piss off MacLean enough to scratch him.

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#7 Original-Six

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 07:57 PM

He was their best player in the playoffs last year and is leading them in scoring.

They have themselves to blame for the contract and not him. Instead of benching their North American underachieving stars, they bench the Russian guy who's currently their best player.

Gof****** figure.

Undoubtedly, he'll be blamed for all their woes this season, while Fatso will be let off the hook, with the media constanly talking about his HOF career and how he's the best goalie ever and all that BS.

They're pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Right now this team needs a goalie that steals games, and not some used trophy case who's earned all his fame from playing around great defensemen in a great system.



I dont think they benched Kovy as a way of pointing a finger. It looks like it was for something thats happening in the locker room or with the coaching staff, which is far worse than a scoring slump. Its not good when stuff like that happens just 8 games after you signed him to a life long overpaid contract. However i couldn't agree more with you about fatso. They have the second worse defense behind the Ducks and have the worst offense what a mess.

Edit* actually they do have the worst offense lol. 15 goals in 9 games, Edmonton has 15 in 6.

Edited by Original-Six, 26 October 2010 - 08:02 PM.


#8 GMRwings1983

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:00 PM

Maybe he hooked up with "Snookie" from Jersey Shore.

:hehe:
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#9 ricky0034

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:02 PM

You expect to hear stories like this about the Islanders. But I'm not as surprised with this, honestly. Lamoriello's had problems with the salary cap ever since it was instituted and it's totally caught up with him now. Brodeur will be gone within a couple seasons (though some could argue he's already gone, what with his sub-par play this season and the past few playoffs) and the Devils will be without any kind of remotely reliable goaltending. They're probably going to lose Parise at the end of the season (who's really their only consistently good player right now) or possibly be forced to trade him at the deadline if they're out of the playoff race at that point, which isn't a stretch. Jersey will turn into the new Atlanta - a team with an overrated superstar and no supporting cast to speak of.

It's kind of a shame too, because I was just recently starting to enjoy watching Devils games. <_<



I'm willing to bet Lou ends up behind the bench again, which will just be a recipe for more disaster.




why would they lose Parise?

they know how important he is and have $7.3 million in contracts expiring after this year(Arnott,Langenbrunner) plus some i didn't count since they are smaller contracts(Hedbergs million,a few 700-500k contracts expiring)

#10 Original-Six

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:08 PM

why would they lose Parise?

they know how important he is and have $7.3 million in contracts expiring after this year(Arnott,Langenbrunner) plus some i didn't count since they are smaller contracts(Hedbergs million,a few 700-500k contracts expiring)


yeah but Parise's new contact will eat up most of the new cap space. I think they will find a way to keep him but it will be ugly.

#11 Konnan511

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:20 PM

Maybe he hooked up with "Snookie" from Jersey Shore.

:hehe:

I threw up a little in my mouth. if drunk college frat boys won't bang her, I'm sure Kovy wouldn't. Hudler likes whores, maybe he'd have a go?
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#12 dropkickshanahans

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:28 PM

I thought the reason they scratched Kovy was because they weren't able to ice a full team?

#13 ricky0034

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:33 PM

I thought the reason they scratched Kovy was because they weren't able to ice a full team?


nah that was before Rolston got injured

#14 Booster313

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:33 PM

He was their best player in the playoffs last year and is leading them in scoring.

They have themselves to blame for the contract and not him. Instead of benching their North American underachieving stars, they bench the Russian guy who's currently their best player.

Gof****** figure.

Undoubtedly, he'll be blamed for all their woes this season, while Fatso will be let off the hook, with the media constanly talking about his HOF career and how he's the best goalie ever and all that BS.

They're pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Right now this team needs a goalie that steals games, and not some used trophy case who's earned all his fame from playing around great defensemen in a great system.


Why do you have to bring nationality into it, non of us really know why.

What kind of color is red? Red is a warning, a declaration, a color that says I'm ready to do what it takes. Red is focused and driven because red doesn't like second place. So what kind of color is red? Their kind.

#15 roboturner

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:33 PM

I thought the reason they scratched Kovy was because they weren't able to ice a full team?

rumor has it that he missed a team meeting after the optional morning skate the day he got scratched. anyway scratching him wouldn't help them ice a full team.

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#16 Hockeytown0001

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:34 PM

I threw up a little in my mouth. if drunk college frat boys won't bang her, I'm sure Kovy wouldn't. Hudler likes whores, maybe he'd have a go?

:lol:

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#17 edicius

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:46 PM

yeah but Parise's new contact will eat up most of the new cap space. I think they will find a way to keep him but it will be ugly.


Pretty much what I was thinking too. Either Parise gets a payday and the supporting cast thins out even further or they lose one of their best players and have to replace him via trade or free agency - and seeing the clusterf*** that Jersey is right now, I'd venture to guess that it's not a preferred destination for a lot of players. And it still doesn't address one of their gaping problems - the guy in net. Brodeur is average at best these days and more often, he's below average. He's not going to steal a game for you anymore, especially behind Jersey's crap defense (to which Kovy now contributes with his lack of defensive play). Even if the Devils do make it into the playoffs this year (which, given how they've looked thus far, might be a longshot), Brodeur will just crap out in the first round as he has for the past three years. He's signed until 2012, I believe, with no future tender in sight for them.

Ultimately, the Kovalchuk contract is part of the problem (in addition to the murmurs that have existed since he was in Atlanta that he's uncoachable), but the Devils have a whole load of problems on their plate in addition to him.

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#18 ricky0034

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 08:51 PM

Pretty much what I was thinking too. Either Parise gets a payday and the supporting cast thins out even further or they lose one of their best players and have to replace him via trade or free agency - and seeing the clusterf*** that Jersey is right now, I'd venture to guess that it's not a preferred destination for a lot of players. And it still doesn't address one of their gaping problems - the guy in net. Brodeur is average at best these days and more often, he's below average. He's not going to steal a game for you anymore, especially behind Jersey's crap defense (to which Kovy now contributes with his lack of defensive play). Even if the Devils do make it into the playoffs this year (which, given how they've looked thus far, might be a longshot), Brodeur will just crap out in the first round as he has for the past three years. He's signed until 2012, I believe, with no future tender in sight for them.

Ultimately, the Kovalchuk contract is part of the problem (in addition to the murmurs that have existed since he was in Atlanta that he's uncoachable), but the Devils have a whole load of problems on their plate in addition to him.


aren't you holding two conflicting viewpoints there?

if Brodeur is "average at best these days and more often, he's below average." then why will it matter when he retires?

surely $5.2 million is enough to sign another average goalie

#19 brett

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 09:46 PM

they broke up their defensive core. They got rid of mottau,martin, and oduya last year. you saw more goals going in the day oduya left. Even more boring to watch now that they cant even score.

brodeur looks horrible, hedberg is even worse.

Parise could be moving next year but i highly doubt that will happen. they will have some problems for a long time.

#20 kook_10

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 09:49 PM

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