Travis Zajac, who we all know and love, has re-signed with the New Jersey Devils for 8 more years! It’s the first contract under the new CBA and averages out to $5.75 million a year, total of $46 million over the next 8 years – prime Zajac time!
We all love to sit and discuss the nuances of the game. The critics and cynics pick apart a bad pass, a bad save or a great PK that turned around the New Jersey Devils’ play. I’d like to step back and see the bigger picture that is forming. With coaching changes four times in the past three years, a slew of injuries, players leaving and a lot of young guys coming in, it is hard to say that the Devils have had a solid identity.
The players are coming together as a team under Peter DeBoer and are creating a new Devils’ identity. They are sustaining increased pressure on the forecheck (as seen by all the SHGs) and an offense that takes chances. We also can see that the players trust their coach. Parise has been quoted saying, “We would run through a wall for him.” Their coach has a mutual respect and has returned it with positive comments about his players.
Team chemistry is one element we don’t always use to describe the organization. We see across the NHL that teams sometimes have cliques or stand alone players. We also see how much this disrupts team chemistry. With pairings like Elias/Sykora, the Henrique line and the fact that the Devils have 7 players with more than 10 goals; I don’t believe they have any issues with chemistry. The players have built off of their coach’s attitude and are coming together as a team, Jersey’s team.
Classic barbecue food, music, games for the kids and a chance to chat with your favorite New Jersey Devils – I’d say that’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. This past weekend the Devils hosted their second annual Devils Family BBQ and Fan Fest at the Prudential Center. It’s one of the cool events season ticket holders get to be a part of and a great way to kick off the season.
Anxious fans lined up outside of The Rock waiting to get in and meet their favorite players. They opened up the main concourse of the Prudential Center and let the fans roam. Lunch was served in the Fire & Ice Lounges. If you were lucky you caught Zach Parise behind the counter suited up to serve with an apron and chef hat. Rumor has it that Ilya Kovalchuk was handing out cookies. Bryce Salvador was taking care of the sodas with Nick Palmieri and Andy Greene.
There was plenty for the younger kids to do between shooting pucks into inflatable nets, hanging out with NJ and dancing with the Devils Dancers. All the players were happy to take pictures, share stories and even play a few rounds of floor hockey with the kids (and some of the adult fans, too). Parise and David Steckel played a couple games of hockey, followed by another game around the corner with Jacob Josefson, Mattias Tedenby, Alexander Urbom and Henrik Tallinder – only a few men short of a Swedish National team. Dainius Zubrus and NJ were hanging around the inflatable goalie nets watching our youngest Devils Army members practicing their slap shots.
Lines formed for both our veteran players and new additions to the team. Cam Janssen and Adam Larsson were pretty popular, as were Martin Brodeur and Patrick Elias of course. Even Lou Lamoriello and our new coach, Peter DeBoer, made appearances on the concourse. Every where you looked you saw a Devil in their jersey. It was surreal to see them on the concourse and to be honest, kind of weird. You learn a few things about the guys being so close. Did you know that Janssen loves to dance in place? David Clarkson seems tough on the ice but his face lights up when you mention his little girl (who will not be a hockey player). Clarkson is also a huge Jets fan and has a helmet signed by the team. Tallinder is a bit of a goofball, he was caught sneaking into pictures with other players and teasing Tedenby and Josefson when they lost their hockey game. Oh, and Rod Pelley has no front teeth – but you’ve probably noticed that before.
It’s great getting a chance to talk to the players and see them off the ice. Everyone had a great time and made sure to wish their favorite guys good luck during the season. There was tons to do and lots to see. Check out more photos from the BBQ on the Devils Generals Flickr page. Let us know if you find your face!
It’s finally that time again. Starting with our pre-season opener on Friday, HOCKEY IS BACK! I know I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends and fellow fans over the past few weeks. As training camp got underway and season tickets were received in the mail, the underlying excitement has continued to grow.
I’ve already broken the jerseys out of the closet (I use the excuse that they make good sweatshirts and wear them every chance I get) and I’ve made plans for road trips throughout the season. Friends and I are already discussing who is going to what pre-season game, who will be at the home opener and where we will all meet. Fantasy hockey leagues are popping up all over the place, with everyone on Facebook and Twitter asking “who wants to join in?” I’ve never been a part of a fantasy league before, but I’m going to give it a try with our own Devils Generals League!
As busy as the summer has been, the hockey bug is biting and I can’t wait to get back to the arena. I am looking forward to seeing what our boys have in store for us this year. The end of last year showed so much promise for our upcoming season. Our rookies really stepped up to the plate filling in for our injured veterans, and it will be fun to see how much they have grown and how well they will play now that they have some experience under the belts. We have new players to welcome to the ice, like our top draft pick, Adam Larsson. We’ve hired a new coach, Peter DeBoer and we get to welcome back Bryce Salvador, who missed all of last season with a concussion. I am relieved and ecstatic to hear the news that he cleared his physical and is reported by his team mates to be in incredible physical shape. As if all of that news wasn’t fantastic enough, we also get to welcome back Zach Parise whose knee has completely healed! While I am saddened to hear Travis Zajac injured himself during training and will be missing a month or two, I am curious to see who Lou and our coaches will have fill in for him. Not at all happy news but it will give us a chance to see some more of our young, up and coming talent in action.
There are so many new additions to our Devils family, players we can finally welcome back from injury, and I will finally get to see my friends and favorite staff members again. I have a great feeling about this year!
It’s almost October, what are you most looking forward to?
Well after much discussion amongst fans and media folks alike, the Devils have finally hired a new coach. That man is… Peter DeBoer. DeBoer is the former coach of the Florida Panthers who was let go at the end of this past season. While his record may show why he was fired, that’s not the only reason. The Panthers are in the middle of a giant rebuilding process and that includes the coach. DeBoer took the Panthers to the brink of the playoffs since the 1999-2000 season with the 2nd highest point total in franchise history. The following years he did not make the playoffs and finished with worse and worse records. However, he did not have the players he had that first year and also, as mentioned before, was still coaching during a rebuilding time in Florida. That will obviously not be the case in his time in New Jersey.
I, for one, am excited on this hire. DeBoer had great success on the junior level winning a Memorial Cup and winning the OHL his last year coaching in juniors. He is also a disciple of former Devils coach Brent Sutter. Sutter hockey was some of the more aggressive and exciting the Devils had during his 2 year tenure. DeBoer has that same philosophy. He has experience coaching young kids, both in the junior level (obviously) and in Florida. With the new influx recently of the Baby Devs last year, this is a good man for the job. A new coach for the new NHL. Can’t wait to hear the opinions of the Devils Army on this move.