No matter what they do for an organization, it’s extremely difficult to replace a pair of Hall of Famers when they leave. That’s exactly what Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello was faced with upon the departures of assistant coaches Adam Oates and Larry Robinson. Oates moved on for an opportunity to be a head coach in the NHL with the Washington Capitals, while Larry Robinson moved to the west coast and the San Jose Sharks, where he can spend time with his grandchildren.
Both Oates and Robinson will be extremely difficult to replace. Oates was hired by the Devils as an assistant coach, specifically to run the power play, for the 2010-11 season. Unfortunately, the power play, like the entire team for much of the season’s first half, did not work well at all. It ranked among the bottom three teams in the league for most of the season, and the Devils missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996, despite a surge in the second half. Oates dramatically turned the power play around this past season, especially in the second half of the season. The Devils finished 14th overall for the season, although it operated at over a 20% rate once the Devils acquired Kurtis Foster, and eventually Marek Zidlicky.
Larry Robinson, on the other hand, has been with the Devils for most of the past two decades. He first came aboard in 1993 as an assistant coach, and was on the coaching staff for the Devils’ first Stanley Cup championship in 1995. After the 1994-95 season, Robinson went to Los Angeles as a head coach, but returned to New Jersey as an assistant in 1999. Between 1999 and 2012, Robinson was an assistant coach, head coach, back to assistant coach and continued to go back and forth several times, but he was a part of all three Stanley Cup championships, including winning in 2000 as the interim head coach. More recently, Robinson worked with the Devils’ young defensemen, such as Mark Fayne and Adam Larsson.
Replacing Oates will be former San Jose assistant Matt Shaw. This hiring by Lou Lamoriello surprised many, although there was not a lot of speculation as to who might replace Oates initially. When Lou Lamoriello invited Sergei Brylin to be an assistant for development camp, which is going on right now, many figured he and Stevens would get the roles, but instead, Matt Shaw has been hired. Shaw was the mastermind of San Jose’s second-ranked power play in the NHL last season. Only the Flyers scored more power play goals in the NHL last season than the Sharks. The Devils are hoping that Shaw can continue to get power play goal production out of Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored 10 such goals last season, Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, who scored eight each.
While Shaw will be running the power play, Scott Stevens will handle the defense. The Hall of Fame defenseman, 13-time All-Star and captain of all three Stanley Cup championships with the Devils, Stevens will assume Robinson’s role and look to mentor the young defensemen the Devils have coming through the organization. In addition to Fayne and Larsson, defensemen such as Eric Gelinas, Alexander Urbom, Jonathan Merrill, Brandon Burlon, Damon Severson and others figure to be NHL ready within the next few seasons. Stevens will hope to improve upon the Devils’ ninth best team goals against average in the NHL from last season.
So with Shaw and Stevens added, the Devils have completed their coaching staff for the 2012-13 season. Peter DeBoer will enter his second season as head coach of the team, while Dave Barr, who ran the NHL’s best penalty kill in the modern era last season, will also return for his second season and Chris Terreri will continue to coach the goaltenders. Hopefully, with Barr’s expertise on the penalty kill and Shaw’s brilliance with the San Jose power play last season, special teams will be a strength of the Devils moving forward, and with Scott Stevens working with the defensemen, it figures to be quite difficult to score goals against the Devils next season.
Is it October yet?
The New Jersey Devils held a news conference today with General Manager Lou Lamiorello and the man who is being honored tonight, Scott Niedermayer.
Niedermayer’s number 27 will join Ken Daneyko’s number 3, and Scott Stevens’ number 4 up in the rafters of Prudential Center tonight.
Niedermayer is excited about the night. During the news conference, he talked about how he tried not to think about it so much when he was nearing the end of his career with the Anaheim Ducks, “It seemed like it sure was a long ways away when I was across the country and not thinking about it a whole lot, but now that I’m here, I’m excited.”
Opening the news conference, Niedermayer thanked Lou Lamiorello for giving him the opportunity to play in New Jersey. He told the press despite owning a red & green Devils jersey as a kid, and knowing the names of the players on the team, he didn’t know much about New Jersey.
Niedermayer credits his skating ability as part of his success within the organization, and he credits Scott Stevens & Ken Daneyko, as well as other veteran defensemen, for teaching him and taking him under their wings. He also said it’s fitting that the first three retired numbers are the key defensemen from the 1995, 2000, and 2003 Stanley Cup teams. Niedermayer said defense was the strength back then, much like offense is the strength of the team now.
He said he felt spoiled that he won the Stanley Cup three times within his first 12 seasons of his career, but that winning the cup that first time was an amazing experience that he’d never forget. Winning the Cup with the Ducks in 2007, he said, almost duplicated that feeling because there were so many players who had never won it before such as Teemu Selanne and his brother, Rob Niedermayer.
To sum up his time in New Jersey, Niedermayer said that the most special moments were just being with his teammates. He named Daneyko, Stevens, Brodeur, and Doug Gilmour as those he was honored to have played with in New Jersey.
Is he nervous about tonight? “Hopefully I don’t mess up too many times or slip on the ice. So, if I don’t do that, it’s a success.”
Tonight the New Jersey Devils will raise Scott Niedermayer’s #27 into the rafters of the Prudential Center to join Scott Stevens and Ken Danekyo. The Devils Generals have a way we all can join in… with Facebook banners! We’ve got a tall one for your Facebook profile picture and a wide one for your Facebook timeline cover. Just click on the one you’d like to download, Right Click, Save Image As, and upload to your Facebook page to honor Niedermayer and celebrate #27 being the third number to be retired in New Jersey Devils history. Don’t forget to follow the Devils Generals on Facebook, too!
Originally posted in September, 2011.
Welcome to the rafters of Prudential Center, #27! On Friday December 16th, Scott Niedermayer’s #27 will join Scott Stevens’ #4 and Ken Daneyko’s #3 as the only numbers retired in franchise history. Scott was a key component of the New Jersey Devils’ success for over a decade, which culminated with four Stanley Cup Finals appearances (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003) and three Stanley Cup Championships (1995, 2000, 2003). Scott’s value to the franchise is undeniable and will never be forgotten.
Niedermayer will undoubtedly be remembered for his stellar skating and offensive production. In 2003-2004 Scott scored 14 goals and added 40 assists, for a total of a whopping 54 points. After the conclusion of the season, Scott was named the winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy as Defenseman of the Year, becoming the first Devil to do so. Scott has won everything there is to win in hockey. In 1991 he won a gold medal at the World Junior Championships as a member of Team Canada. In 1992 he won the Memorial Cup as a member of the Kamloops Blazers, and was named MVP. He won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 1995, 2000 and 2003. Scott also won the Stanley Cup in 2007 as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, and won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. Scott won gold medals as a member of Team Canada in the 2002 and 2010 Olympics. He also was a member of the Team Canada squad that took gold in the 2004 World Championships, and a member of the 2004 World Cup winning Canada team. Forget “trophy case”, the Niedermayer household needs a trophy ROOM.
I am extremely excited about Scott’s jersey being retired, and will be in attendance at The Rock cheering loudly on the night of December 16. Please join me in applauding a true New Jersey Devils legend who has given so much to the organization.
What is your favorite Nieds’ moment?
I know, I know. You think I don’t know how to count properly. Clearly, the number five does NOT come after the number two.
After much debate, and feedback from readers, we will not be doing a “Best to Wear ” for number three or four. Seeing as these are the only numbers retired by the New Jersey Devils, I think it’s pretty clear who the best to wear them are. However in case you’re wondering here are what would’ve been the choices (bold denotes who the number is retired for).
#3: Ken Daneyko, Dave Hutchison
#4: Scott Stevens, Myles O’Connor, Sergei Starikov, Eric Weinrich, Jamie Huscroft, Gord Mark, Bob Lorimer
Also, a lot of you have been asking if we’re talking about just their career in New Jersey or their NHL career as a whole. Try to focus on their Jersey career, but don’t let me stop you from voting for someone based on their NHL career.
You will have until 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday, August 25 to cast your vote. As a comment, leave a reason why you voted for a certain player.
So, Devils Army, Who was the Best to Wear # 5?