Tag:New Jersey Devils
Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:51 am
 

Daily Skate: Charges for Byfuglien? Captain picks

By Brian Stubits

GETTING TOUGH ON BYFUGLIEN: Dustin Byfuglien is facing criminal charges for his foray on Lake Minnetonka over Labor Day weekend. The Winnipeg Free Press reports the district attorney has given the OK for the sheriff's office to formally charge Byfuglien with drunk boating.

CAPTAIN CAROUSEL: In the last week David Backes has been named the captain of the Blues and Ryan Callahan picked to lead the Rangers. But there are still six vacant positions across the NHL, so Pro Hockey Talk took the liberty of picking a captain for the remaining teams. Among the nominees is John Tavares for the Islanders.

CONCUSSION CRACKDOWN: With the attention on concussions growing every day in the NHL with each high-profile case, the concern is trickling down. Canadian youth leagues are planning to begin putting players as young as 10 through the same tests as NHL players this upcoming season (ESPN.com).

BICK IS BACK: After missing some of the seven-game series against the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs, the Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell is recovered and ready for the season (Chicago Tribune). He had surgery in April to repair two lacerated tendons, an incident that happened in Game 2 against the Canucks. He did return in time for Chicago's wins in Games 4, 5 and 6 but wasn't the same.

MAKE THAT TWO: The Sabres are in the same position with Jason Pominville as the Blackhawks and Bickell. They weren't counting on having Pominville back in time for training camp (Buffalo News) after having a tendon severed in the playoff series against the Flyers, but his recovery has gone faster than expected and he "[doesn't] think there will be any issue."

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The Dallas Stars don't have high expectations this season, and that's great for the team, Brendan Morrow says. He told Kevin Allen of USA Today that the Stars have plenty of young talent to surprise as underdogs, and it starts with Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski.

SEEKERS OF THE CUP: As the release of EA Sports' NHL 12 told us on Tuesday, hockey season is right around the corner. Here's a great promo video from the MSG Network in New York for the metro area's three teams, the Rangers, Devils and Islanders.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 5:50 pm
 

Sykora, Bernier to tryout with Devils

SykoraBy: Adam Gretz

The New Jersey Devils announced on Monday that they will be bringing in three free agents on tryout contracts for training camp, including an old friend that was a part of their top line during their Stanley Cup winning season back in 2000.

Petr Sykora, Steve Bernier and Anton Stralman are the players that will be getting a look with the Devils, with Sykora's name being the one that will stand out given his history with the club. Not only was he the Devils' first-round draft pick in 1995, he ended up scoring 145 of his 302 career goals as a member of the Devils over parts of seven seasons, and also helped to form their top-scoring line, along with Jason Arnott and Patrik Elias, during their Stanley Cup victory over the Dallas Stars at the start of the decade.

The 35-year-old Sykora did not play in the NHL last season, having spent the year in Russia playing for Dynamo Minsk of the KHL, scoring eight goals in 28 games. He also spent some time playing in the Czech Republic. His last NHL appearance was with the Minnesota Wild during the 2009-10 campaign where he scored two goals in 14 games before being sidelined with a concussion. He was eventually released.

Bernier, a former first-round pick of the San Jose Sharks, has been a member of four different teams (San Jose, Buffalo, Vancouver and Florida) since entering the NHL during the 2005-06 season, and has scored 76 goals in 385 games. He was traded to Florida from Vancouver prior to last season, along with Michael Grabner and a first-round pick, in exchange for defenseman Keith Ballard.

In what has turned out to be a rather dubious decision in hindsight, the Panthers kept Bernier and ended up placing Grabner on waivers before the start of the regular season in an effort to demote him to the minor leagues. The result: Bernier scored five goals for Florida in 68 games while Grabner went on to blossom after being claimed by the New York Islanders, scoring 34 goals in what proved to be a breakout season for the speedy forward.

Stralman, a defenseman with a bit of an offensive game, spent the past two years with the Columbus Blue Jackets and managed to produce some respectable offensive numbers from the blue line, scoring seven goals to go with 45 assists in 124 games. The Devils are definitely in need of some offensive punch from their defense. During the 2010-11 season, for example, Andy Greene led all of their rearguards in scoring with just 23 points, while no other defenseman on the roster managed to tally more than the 18 points Stralman put up with the Blue Jackets.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 12, 2011 1:24 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 3:04 pm
 

Devils ownership in flux amid bankruptcy report

By Brian Stubits

Last season the New Jersey Devils took a staggering stumble to the bottom of the NHL before a late-season surge brought them back to the level of respectability.

Now they are might be taking another fall. The New York Post's Josh Kosman reports the team is on the verge of bankruptcy after missing a loan payment on September 1. Typically, creditors don't appreciate that much.

The team’s financial hardships could also affect Newark’s four-year-old Prudential Center, the Devils’ home arena. Team-owned Devils Arena Entertainment operates the $375 million building and guarantees the Devils’ loans and, therefore, is in danger of also going bankrupt.

Two issues are complicating matters. First, principal owner Jeff Vanderbeek and co-owner Ray Chambers, each of whom owns 47 percent of the franchise, are on the outs. Chambers, through his Brick City Hockey unit, has been trying to sell his non-controlling stake in the franchise for a year.

But the efforts of Chambers and Moag & Co., a Baltimore investment bank, have been unsuccessful, despite, a source said, cutting their asking price 20 percent to $200 million. Forbes last year estimated the Devils were worth $218 million, No. 11 in the league, down 2 percent from 2010. The team is ranked No. 25 in attendance.

Second, Vanderbeek’s relationship with the lenders is as frosty as the rink surface at The Rock, as the arena is known.

The Devils have told their banks to get lost, the source said.

The Devils’ past-due loan payment of roughly $100 million is owed to a CIT-led lending group. Devils Arena Entertainment owes $180 million, the source said.

For their part, the Devils came out with a statement later Monday:

"Today’s New York Post story is inaccurate. The notions that the Devils are facing bankruptcy or that 'the Devils have told their banks to get lost' are patently untrue. The Devils value their relationship with their banks and are confident a refinancing will be completed shortly. As stated previously, ownership is close to finalizing an agreement that would lead to a buyout of Brick City’s share of the company."

To read the full statement, see Tom Gulitti's blog.

But what remains is that, despite their long run of success (besides last season), the Devils have struggled to bring people through the gates, plus they have loans on the still-new Prudential Center. It's a recipe that has led to the franchise losing money. Plus, minority owner Ray Chambers has been looking to sell his 47-percent interest in the organization after a falling out with primary owner Jeff Vanderbeek. It doesn't paint a very stable picture for the franchise's future.

These are certainly new times for the Devils. They suffered through last season partly because of salary cap issues after re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk. That has led to as big of a step back as the Devils have had in a long time. The have a newcomer on the bench (somebody from outside the organization) in former Panthers coach Pete Deboer. They were in the top five of the draft where they picked the concensus top defenseman available in Swede Adam Larsson.

Playing a role in the troubles, too, is the NBA lockout. That's because the New Jersey Nets, scheduled to play their final season in New Jersey at the Prudential Center this year, don't have any games lined up at the moment because of the labor strife. Nets games were a solid source of income for the Prudential Center.

While it's not a prerequisuite, it would sure help the Devils return to the top of the standings on an annual basis with a stable ownership situation. Either way, it's hardly the news a team wants to hear the week training camp opens.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Parise, Devils continue working on long-term deal

By Brian Stubits

The speculation was rampant when Zach Parise re-inked with the Devils for just one season.

You could hear the panic out of New Jersey. The anticipation was equally as loud from fan bases all across the NHL, hopeful for a shot to get one of the game's young Stars next offseason.

Well everybody can calm down. Parise talked about his offseason negotiations at the media tour in New York City today, saying in no way does the short contract indicate a desire to leave New Jersey. From NHL.com:

"We talked about both," Parise said of discussing short- and long-term deals. "Without getting into too much detail with respect to everyone involved, we came down to that and that made the most sense. We said it right after we signed it, that we were going to keep talking. It's not as if we're not going to talk until next June 30. We'll keep going and keep working on it.

"I know people's initial reactions are, 'Oh, it's one year and get out of there.' But that's not how it went down, that's not how it worked out. We'll keep trying to figure it out."

Until last season, Parise had avoided injuries throughout his six-year career. But surgery on his knee limited him to just 13 games last season. But go back to 2008-09 when Parise scored 45 goals with 49 assists -- he has scored more than 30 goals in each of his past four full seasons -- and you can understand why he is so coveted.

If he is able to return from the surgery and show his old form once again, it will go a long way toward getting the Devils back into the playoff picture after a staggering fall last season. Oh, and he'll ensure he'll get the handsome salary that's been coming his way.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 7, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Hockey world mourns KHL team plane crash



(Pavol Demitra/Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

For the fourth time this summer, tragedy has struck the hockey world. This time it comes in the form of a plane crash in Russia carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the KHL, a team that includes many former NHL faces.

Among those who were on the roster are former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei Karlis Skrastins, Josef Vasicek and Karel Rachunek. The coaching staff was led by former Bruins, Whalers, Flyers and Red Wings defenseman Brad McCrimmon and also contained former NHL players Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev.

Plus, there were numerous others who were prospects for NHL teams. Among those was Devils prospect Alexander Vasyunov, who played in 18 games for the Devils last season.

"Words cannot express what has transpired," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said. "I knew a lot of players that were on that team. Nothing could prepare the hockey community for the devastating news ... [This] has left all of us beyond words.

More on KHL crash

"[Vasyunov] wanted to go over and play a lot and come back here. He was so proud to be a Devil. I can't say enough about him."

Riley Armstrong, brother of Colby Armstrong, is part of the team but was not on the plane. He tweeted after the ordeal that he was OK.

"I'm safe, but thanks for the kind words but pray and think of the players and their families on that flight."

As you can imagine, in a league that now contains many Russian players and has its ties grow every year with Russia's top league, the responses have been numerous and distraught. Alex Ovechkin simply said "I'm in shock!!!!!R.I.P ...."

Panthers defenseman and former Lokomotiv player Dmitry Kulikov was left stunned. "It's just an empty feeling. Words can't express how I feel."

Then there was Lightning defenseman Nate Thompson. "A tragic loss for the hockey world. Plane crash with an entire KHL team on board. Thoughts and prayers go out to there families and friends."

Perhaps Demitra is perhaps the best known former NHL player among the bunch. He spent most of his NHL career with the Blues, where he had his best seasons as a player. His best year was 2002-03 when he scored 36 goals and had 57 assists. He was named to three All-Star teams; 1999, 2000 and 2002. He most recently played for the Canucks in 2009-10 before moving on to the KHL.

Moreover, he developed some tremendous friendships in the NHL. The bond he created with Keith Tkachuk in St. Louis was tremendous and Tkachuk was predictably hurt.

"I am beyond devastated by the tragic news involving my good friends Brad and Pavol and the rest of their teammates in Russia. Brad was my teammate in Phoenix and later coached me in Atlanta and was truly a wonderful man who will be greatly missed. Pav was like a brother to me and I cannot believe that he is no longer with us. This is a terrible day for the hockey fraternity. My family’s thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.”

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star- Tribune penned this story back in 2007 (at the bottom of the entry) about the strong bond Demitra developed with Marion Gaborik when the two were playing together for the Wild.

Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins also had lengthy stints in the NHL, even being traded for one another at one point. In the 2007-08 season, the Avalanche sent Skrastins to the Panthers in exchange for Salei. In his one full season in Florida, Skrastins had his most productive offensive year, scoring four goals and 14 assists. The tough-nosed defenseman then played his final two NHL seasons with the Stars. Terry Frei of the Denver Post chronicaled Skrastins' trip to the NHL from Latvia.

"The Dallas Stars are saddened by the loss of former defenseman Karlis Skrastins in today's tragic plane crash in Russia," the team released in a statement.

Salei spent nearly a decade playing for the Ducks in Anaheim before he was signed by the Panthers. Like Skrastins, he had his best offensive season playing with Florida, scoring six goals with 26 assists in 2006-07 before being traded the next season to Colorado.

He was playing with the Red Wings just last season, playing 75 games with Detroit.

Vasicek played parts of seven seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Carolina Hurricanes. Team captain Eric Staal had this to say about Vasicek: "Joe was an awesome guy, always in good spirits, always smiling. It's just a tragedy."

Chad LaRose echoed those sentiments. "It's a shocker, a tragedy. Joe was a great guy. A life ended too early."

Vasicek's final season in North America was with the Islanders where he played alongside Radek Martinek.

"He was one of my best buddies. He was in my wedding. I can't believe this," Martinek said.

Among the confirmed dead is former Red Wings and Flyers defenseman McCrimmon, Lokomotiv's coach. The news was just as somber in Detroit with Wings coach Mike Babcock.

McCrimmon had been an assistant with the Red Wings the past three seasons, having spent time wit the Thrashers, Flames and Islanders as an assistant as well. He left Detroit to lead the KHL team in hopes of becoming a head coach in the NHL some day.

As a defenseman, he put up some absolutely unbelievable numbers in his career. In only two of his 18 seasons did he ever record a negative plus-minus mark and he posted a career-high plus-83 in 1985-86 with the Flyers. He ended his career with a plus-444, the 10th best mark in NHL history. Each of the nine players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame.

This will go down as one of the biggest, if not the biggest sports tragedies we've ever seen. About the only things I can think that compare are the plane crashes that affected the Marshall football team and Oklahoma State basketball teams. Hopefully, and we hope with every bone in our body, this is the end of what will be known as the Summer of Sorrow in hockey. This has truly been an offseason from hell and hopefully one that we never see again.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 5, 2011 11:50 am
 

Domi, Janssen talk about depression

JanssenBy: Adam Gretz

Following the recent deaths of Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, the subject of depression in hockey has been the biggest discussion taking place in the NHL. Both players suffered from it (Rypien's we knew about, Belak's we found out about after the fact) and shared the same role as players (fighters).

Are the off-ice troubles and on-ice role related in anyway? That has been the question everybody is asking in recent days.

Cam Janssen, a member of the New Jersey Devils and one of the NHL's top heavyweights with over 80 regular season fights to his credit according to hockeyfights.com, spoke with Rich Cere of the Star-Ledger and suggested that it can come with the territory of being a professional athlete, and while there's a lot of fame and money involved, it can also be an extremely stressful job.

Said Janssen, via Cere:
“I think it has something to do with the job. Absolutely,” Janssen said. “People look at the fame and the money part of pro athletes and they don’t understand how hard and stressful it can be. Listen, I have the absolute coolest job in the world, but it’s also one of the most stressful jobs in the world, too.
After Belak's funeral over the weekend, Josh Cooper of the Tennessean spoke with former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi, a player that had his fair share of dust ups during his NHL career. Domi talked about depression and urged those in need of help to not be alone and pick up the phone and call somebody.

Said Domi:
“This has to do with depression and getting the right message out there,” Domi said. “That depression can be beat. That’s what I want to do for him and his family is get the right message out there. Because the wrong message has been sent. Not just about hockey. This is about life. There are 3,500 people in Canada who commit suicide a year, 80 percent of them are men.”

Added Domi, “Wade was alone and he can’t be alone when you have these things going on. You have to call somebody.”

At this point we still don't know what -- if any -- connection there is between fighting and depression. All we know is a handful of players that happened to fight suffered from it. What we don't know is how long it was an issue for them, why it was an issue, or if it could work the exact opposite way everybody is looking at it -- the possibility that the depression is what made some of these guys follow a path that led to them becoming fighters in the NHL. We simply don't know.

It's also possible, if not entirely likely, that there are other players around the league that aren't fighters that are suffering through the same problems and simply haven't talked about it.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 5, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 10:12 am
 

Daily Skate: Burmistrov feels at home in Winnipeg

By: Adam Gretz

BURMISTROV FEELS AT HOME There have been rumblings in recent months that some players aren't looking forward to playing in Winnipeg. One player that is seems to be excited about it is 19-year-old winger Alexander Burmistrov, the team's first-round draft pick last year. Burmistrov told the Winnipeg Sun how much he's looking forward to playing in Winnipeg because "people love hockey here and it's cold here, and that's what I know." In 74 games last season he scored six goals to go with 14 assists while playing just over 13 minutes of ice-time per game.

CONCERNS FOR MONTREAL DEFENSE The biggest question mark for the Montreal Canadiens this season: injuries to their defense. Andrei Markov played in just seven games last season and is coming off his second major surgery in as many years. His health, as well as the health of Josh Gorges, will play a huge factor in what success the Canadiens are able to have in 2011.

THOMAS' DAY WITH THE CUP Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas had his deal with the Stanley Cup on Saturday morning and took it back to Vermont where he spent his college days stopping pucks.

PANDOLFO GETS TRYOUT WITH Islanders The New York Islanders announced over the weekend that veteran forward Jay Pandolfo will attend their training camp on a tryout basis. He last played in the NHL during the 2009-10 season as a member of the New Jersey Devils (the only NHL team he's ever played for) scoring four goals in 52 games. In 819 career games he's scored 99 goals. He spent last season making a brief appearance in the American Hockey League with the Springfield Falcons, recording six points (two goals, four assists) in 12 games.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 31, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Former Capital Steckel talks Crosby hit, Semin

By Brian Stubits

David Steckel was a member of the Washington Capitals up until March of last year, so he knows a thing or two about a couple of the bigger stories/dramas of the hockey summer.

Skating at the Caps practice facility as he and his wife are back in the District to try and sell their Virginia house, Steckel took a little time to talk with the Washington Post's Tarik El-Bashir about a few lingering items. One regards the health of Sidney Crosby, the other the criticism levied on Alexander Semin by former Caps enforcer Matt Bradley.

First, to the Crosby treatment. Remember, it was Steckel that hit Crosby in the Winter Classic, rendering the Penguins star concussed. Since then, the argument has raged of whether or not it was a dirty play or intentional. Steckel, now with the Devils, says neither is the case.

"I had no intent to injure him. I feel just as bad as anybody. I don't want to see anybody out of the game for that long. It's bad enough with everything that's going around with other guys [and] head [injuries]. It's just so uncertain. I feel bad. I wish him the best. I don't wish that upon anybody."

Here's the hit heard 'round the NHL world in case you need a refresher.

To me it never appeared to be a malicious hit by any stretch. It appears to be an unfortunate accident. But it's certainly a debatable topic and the true verdict is always in the eye of the beholder in such situations.

However the majority of the talk with El-Bashir centered on Bradley's remarks about Semin, ya know the ones that Semin "just doesn't care?" Well here's what Steckel had to say on Wednesday.

“It's not like he went out and told lies,” Steckel said. “[He] didn't really say anything bad about anybody. He just stated what he felt. ... I don't have anything to say on what Brads said except that he was spot on. He mentioned Ovi, too, just not on a negative side. He hit it on the head for both guys."

It's nowhere near as inflammatory as the route Bradley took, but it's still no ringing endorsement of Semin.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com