For Devils fans, the upcoming 2015-16 season is all about change. For the first time in three decades, their team will be run by someone other than Lou Lamoriello, who left the organization to take over as new Leafs general manager. Something that still feels odd even for this Rangers blogger.
The Devils are now Ray Shero’s group. The former Pens GM has already made significant changes hiring former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach John Hynes as new coach along with assistants Geoff Ward and Alain Nasreddine. Only goalie coach Chris Terreri remains with franchise staple Scott Stevens gone.
Shero also bought out Dainius Zubrus who’ll be paid $3.1 million to stay home. He wants a younger roster with newcomer Kyle Palmieri coming from Anaheim. Stefan Matteau and Reid Boucher should be part of it along with former KHLer Sergei Kalinin. Also gone are vets Scott Gomez, Steve Bernier, Michael Ryder and Martin Havlat. Former Ranger John Moore joins a young blueline led by Andy Greene and recently re-signed Adam Larsson. Greene is the only player over 30 with a young core also featuring Jon Merrill, Damon Severson and Eric Gelinas.
The only holdover from the Stanley Cup years is franchise scoring leader Patrik Elias. In what almost certainly is his final season as a Devil, the 39-year old will earn $5.5 million in the last year of his contract. The classy Czech has been a team fixture. Since he was selected 51st overall in the second round of the 1994 NHL Draft, he’s posted 406 goals and 611 assists totaling a team best 1,017 points in 1,224 games. That’s also included 125 points (45-80-125) in 162 postseason contests. An integral part of the last two Devils’ Cups in 2000 and 2003, Elias is a fan favorite. If it’s the end, it’ll be sad. Will this also be his final season? What if he winds up on another roster with a shot at a championship? That remains to be seen.
Not only will there be changes on the ice but also off it as well. One of the team traditions under Lamoriello and original owner John McMullen is no more. For the first time ever, a player will wear number 13 which was forbidden. Mike Cammalleri will make the switch from No.23 to No.13. As a rival fan, I never quite understood why 13 wasn’t permitted. After all, the team name is the Devils. But Lamoriello preferred players to avoid 13 at all costs. Had it been allowed, Sergei Nemchinov would’ve worn it. So too would’ve Valeri Kamensky. There would’ve been others too.
In keeping with the theme, the Devils will also be more accessible during games. As part of their MSG telecasts, John MacLean will be between the benches. Similar to Pierre McGuire and of course John Giannone, MacLean will get to fill that role giving the Red Army as much information as possible. He’ll also be on the ice for pregame. Rich Chere broke the news in a article on NJ.Com.
During team practice, Cory Schneider will wear a microphone on off days. I’m sure the guys in the production truck led by Roland Dratch and Larry Gaines will put it to good use. Even better for them and Devils fans, there will be a camera in the team locker room showing game preparation.
Most startling is the final tidbit from Chere’s piece. TV and radio personnel will be on team charter flights. Astonishingly, the media had to arrange their own commercial flights. That is jaw dropping. I don’t have the words. I’m sure Hasan has plenty. All these changes are part of the current ownership led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer.
According to Chris Wassel, this is only the beginning.