Devils Open Pre-Season with Shootout Loss

My "new-season" resolution for the 2010-2011 season is to be more positive.  Please look for positive-ness throughout this post.

The Devils lost their opening pre-season game to the Flyers.  On a positive note, their top line wasn’t playing.

The Devils still have no clue who they are going to drop from their roster to free up cap space that the Devils are currently over with the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk,  On the plus side, we have Ilya Kovalchuk.

The Devils netminder showed signs of incompetency towards the end of the shootout.  On a good note, it wasn’t Martin Brodeur in net tonight.

 

Isn’t being positive awesome?

 

I’m being grumpy on purpose.  It’s been a long couple of weeks.  For some reason when school starts it seems as if all hell breaks loose.  It probably doesn’t help that both my wife and I both work in schools.

In any event, the 8 people that could actually tune to the NHL Network were able to watch tonight’s pre-season game courtesy of the Philadelphia  broadcast.  I was able to catch some of the feed thanks to some illegal video feed someone had up online.

The Devils didn’t look all that bad, a little bit rusty around the edges, and sure missing your top line doesn’t help much.  So with a great deal of rookies, things didn’t look too bad at all.  New coach MacLean didn’t get a single bench penalty, and there weren’t any "too-many-men on the ice" penalties called either – although I’m pretty sure that 7 or 8 players from the same team found themselves all on the ice at the same time on occasion.

Overall you can’t call this a bad game, although keep in mind that not only did we not have our top players, neither did Philadelphia.

 

Other than some new – and old – faces in the lineup, there isn’t too many new surprises to find this season.  The trapezoid is still there, the over-calling of minor infractions will still take place, and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will still be called if you do the chicken dance towards another player.

Oh, and to end on a positive note – Jamie Lanegenbrunner scored a goal – 5% of what he scored all of last season.

With Kovi Signed, Who is the Weakest Link?

Ilya Kovalchuk is now a full fledge member of the New Jersey Devils.  Complete with no-trade clauses and a number of years that’ll make me middle aged when it expires, he is coming back to the states and gearing up for the pre-season.

But in the depths of Lou Lamoriello’s brain, an evil is stirring.  He must ax one or two players to make up what is believed to be between $3 and $6 million that the team is currently over in the Salary Cap.

To make matters slightly worse, the Devils are only at 21 players, and the league requires them to have signed 23 for the start of the season on October 8th.

A number of high profile players currently sit with no-trade and no-movement clauses making them safe, including players such as Patrik Elias, Brian Rolston, Zach Parise and Travis Zajac.

Who’s free to go?  The top choices currently being speculated are Dainus Zubrus and Bryce Salvador.  They have the most salary and would give the Devils the wiggle room they need to clear the current cap limit, and have enough left over to sign the remaining players they need to make up the league required 23 man roster.

There is a great deal of speculation that Brian Rolston may be asked to wave his no-trade clause so the team may dispense of him and his salary, but both Rolston and his agent have denied the team coming to them to discuss such options.

The Devils can continue to operate in their current state, but everything must be within league specifications by midnight on October 8th, the start of the season.

NHL Officially Without Contracts

The NHL is going to have a handful in 2012 when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires and they, along with the NHLPA, must come to terms with tweaking the Salary Cap, rules and restrictions, as well as any other hair-brain ideas the league has come up with to “improve” the league.

Oh, but did I mention that this season may have a few wrinkles of it’s own?  According to The Hockey News, they have received information that the NHL Officials Association, that is our Referees and Linesmen, are without a contract.

Well who needs ‘em.  They all make bad calls anyway.  I can’t think of a game where I’ve left saying, “Wow, that officiating was spot on!”

Oh, but did I mention they’re contacting minor league officials, officials from the AHL and ECHL, to fill in, in the event the two sides can’t come to terms.  That will make this season just a little more interesting.

To be fair, on ice officials are human – they too can make mistakes and could be looking the other way, literally, when something happens at the opposite end of the ice.  You you always see the negative more than the positive.  If you don’t make a comment about the officiating of the game, they probably did their job very well.

But what’s their problem with the NHL?  They’re nervous about job performance.  Apparently, when they go back to the dressing room (officials have dressing rooms??), their supervisor tells them one thing, but can then proceed to write down anything and send it off to league headquarters without showing them what it is they’re sending out.

THN also speculates that money and pensions are also issues currently being discussed, but union officials refuse to disclose what is occurring during the negotiations.

We currently sit 10 days away from the Devils first pre-season game, September 21, against the Philadelphia Flyers.  It is uncertain how close or far the NHL and the NHLOA are to reaching an agreement.