Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 10:06 am
By: Adam Gretz
PITTSBURGH -- Bizarre moment during the third period of the Devils 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
New Jersey forward Patrik Elias was issued a four-minute double minor for high-sticking early in the period. Pretty routine call, right? Not exactly. Instead of going to the penalty box to serve the penalty, his teammate, Petr Sykora, who was in the same general area as Elias when the penalty occurred, skated over to the box to serve the penalty, even though Elias' name and number was the one that was announced as the guilty party.
And neither referee noticed it until it was too late. It turned out to be a big miss on their part as Elias ended up scoring a shorthanded goal to tie the game at one.
After the game Sykora said one of the referee's (though he couldn't specify which one) finally figured out what he had done and was not happy about it. Sykora said that he then apologized.
"It was unrespectful of the referee for me, but I was trying to help my team," said Sykora. "I didn't want to have Patty go in for four minutes to the penalty box because we need him on the PK. He's on our first PK unit. It worked out and he got a goal, but after that he (the ref) came up to me and he wasn't happy. I apologized to him. It was unrespectful."
He also added, "But on the other side I really want to do what I can do to help this team."
"I was kind of hoping he wasn't going to figure it out, but he did."
It's still amazing that both referees (not to mention the two linesmen) could miss the wrong guy going to the penalty box, and then had to watch as the person that should have been serving the penalty scored what could have been a game-changing shorthanded goal. In the end, it wasn't, as the Devils gave up three straight goals over the final 15 minutes.
Don't get mad at Sykora for this bold display of gamesmanship (that's what I prefer to call it, anyway). The people that should be on the receiving end of any criticism are the referees that clearly weren't paying enough attention to, again, notice the wrong guy sitting in the box.
Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:14 am
The Devils on Wednesday signed the veteran winger to a one-year contract worth $650,000, a nice price tag to tag a flier on.
"I'm ecstatic," Sykora told the Star-Ledger. "Of course I'm very happy. It's something that seemed very far away a couple of weeks ago and it happened."
Last season Sykora played in Russia and his home of the Czech Republic. He played only 14 games two seasons ago for the Wild, his last stint in the NHL, recording three points with two goals and an assist. But that's a far cry from the numbers he put up earlier in his career, particualrly in his original stint with the Devils. Playing for New Jersey as a 19-year-old rookie, Sykora scored 18 goals in 1995-96. The best season of his career came in 2000-01 when he had 35 goals and 46 assists.
After leaving New Jersey after the 2002 season, he made stops in Anaheim, New York (Rangers) Edmonton, Pittsburgh and Minnesota before now making his way back to the Garden State and the Devils roster.
"Yes, I did believe. I always believed," he said. "I just took it day by day. I got a chance to play with a lot of good players."
Sykora, known to have a great one-time shot, impressed new coach Peter DeBoer this preseason. In four exhibitions, Sykora scored two goals and was even more impressive in some of the scrimmages that included a hat trick.
It's going to be interesting to see where Sykora fits and how much ice time he receives. He has shown that at this stage he's willing to do a lot to earn his keep, so I'd be surprised if Sykora doesn't do almost anything he's asked on the ice.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 8:06 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The Toronto Maple Leafs needed an upgrade in their ability to win faceoffs and on Tuesday afternoon picked up one of the best players in the NHL when it comes to winning draws.
The team announced that it acquired veteran center David Steckel from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2012 NHL draft. The 29-year-old Steckel has played four full seasons in the NHL and every year has steadily climbed the faceoff leader boards, going from 7th in 2007-08, up to 5th in 2008-09, 2nd in 2009-10 and finally to the top of the league this past season, winning over 62 percent of his draws.
His ability to control the puck off the draw is clearly his biggest value, while he typically averages around 12 minutes of ice-time per game and chips in between five and six goals per season. Originally a draft pick of the Washington Capitals, he was traded to New Jersey, along with a second-round pick, in exchange for veteran forward Jason Arnott last season.
Steckel is signed through the end of next season at an average annual salary of $1.1 million. The Maple Leafs have some major questions at center. Tim Connolly, their big free agent signing of the summer, appears to be questionable for the season opener with an upper body injury, while Matthew Lombardi, acquired in a trade with Nashville, is still recovering from a concussion that cost him all but two games of the 2010-11 season. Steckel isn't going to remedy their problems down the middle or be a top-line player, but he does bring some depth and some value as a faceoff specialist.
According to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, the deal from New Jersey's point of view allows the Devils to open up a roster spot that could be filled by veteran Petr Sykora, who was in camp on a tryout deal, or perhaps a player like Adam Henrique or Brad Mills.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 5:50 pm
By: 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