Paul Martin says Devils were never a factor in free agency, expects to get booed by fans

Penguins defenseman Paul Martin’s off-season was filled with intrigue as an unrestricted free agent. When teams came calling bidding for his services, he had two serious competitors in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

The team missing from that list was his former team the New Jersey Devils. Did Martin spurn the Devils to sign with their divisional rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins? According to Martin, it wasn’t like that at all as he tells Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger.

Martin actually thought he might stay with the Devils. But when it became obvious that general manager Lou Lamoriello’s focus was on Ilya Kovalchuk, the 29-year-old defenseman signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Penguins on July 1.

“There really wasn’t any offer. It was more of seeing where I was at,” Martin recalled. “We really didn’t get anywhere during the time they could’ve offered me a contract. Me and (agent) Ben Hankinson figured out that Kovy was their main priority.

“When the day (July 1) came it was a matter of having to wait to see where the pieces fell and if Kovy would sign here. That would’ve been nice knowing they could’ve signed me and Kovy, but it happened so fast. You don’t have the time to weigh your options.”

Kovalchuk or bust for New Jersey seems rather appropriate considering how their off-season went. Getting to splurge on Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder seemed like hefty spending after getting things squared away with Kovalchuk.

As for the greeting Martin expects to get in New Jersey tomorrow night as the Devils take on the Penguins, Martin is hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

“I’m sure they will boo. I saw it with Nieder,” Martin said in recalling Scott Niedermayer’s return to New Jersey with the Ducks. “How do you boo a guy like that? I just hope it’s not as bad for me as it was with Scott Gomez when he was playing for the Rangers.”

The parallels are certainly available as far as things between Martin and Gomez go. Both signed with teams within the division for good money (or in Gomez’s case, insane money) but I don’t imagine that many Devils fans were holding out hope that Paul Martin would stick around in New Jersey, especially with Ilya Kovalchuk’s status as a free agent looming.

That said, if they booed Scott Niedermayer in New Jersey, there’s really no hope for Paul Martin to get by unscathed. That is, unless, Devils fans have gotten in touch with their cuddly side the last couple of years.

(Photo: Jonathan Daniel – Getty Images)

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    Video: Henrik Sedin records 1,000th career point

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    Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.

    Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.

    Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.

    Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. Daniel should also reach that number, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.

    Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.

    Video: Tempers flare between Oilers and Predators, as Lucic and McLeod drop the gloves

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    Things got feisty between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators on Friday.

    It started in the second period after P.K. Subban took an elbow from Matt Hendricks along the end boards. Hendricks was immediately grabbed by Anthony Bitetto. Nothing really materialized from that, however the main event broke out between Milan Lucic and Nashville newcomer Cody McLeod.

    Lucic landed some pretty heavy punches before the two players fell to the ice.

    Video: Cam Ward loses it on Hornqvist, Hurricanes suffer ’embarrassing’ loss to Penguins

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    Cam Ward had enough.

    The Carolina Hurricanes goalie seemed particularly ticked off with Patric Hornqvist on Friday, twice taking out his frustrations in front of the net on the Pittsburgh Penguins forward.

    Earlier in the game, Ward delivered a slash to the back of Hornqvist’s leg. In the third period, with the Hurricanes down five goals — that should give you an indication of what kind of night this was for Carolina — Ward snapped, delivering a punch with the blocker to Hornqvist after he slid into the Hurricanes puck stopper a split second after Evgeni Malkin jammed the puck in for a goal.

    The final score? A 7-1 disaster of a loss to the Penguins, highlighted by Pittsburgh’s second-period offensive outburst. Ward played the entire game, allowing seven goals on 41 shots.

    Carolina’s night also included star forward Jeff Skinner getting benched for the third period, after he took a pair of minor penalties — embellishment and unsportsmanlike conduct — in the second period.

    “That’s pretty embarrassing. You don’t want to suffer a loss like that, especially in your home building,” Skinner told reporters.

    The Hurricanes entered this game with a chance to jump into a wild card spot in the East.

    Last week, the Hurricanes won four in a row, including a victory over Columbus, and continued their steady rise into the playoff hunt in the East. This week? It’s included losses to the Blue Jackets and Penguins.

    The Hurricanes won’t have much time to think about this one. They travel to Columbus for a game Saturday evening.

    With Claude Julien on the hot seat, Bruins lose late heartbreaker to Blackhawks

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    The Boston Bruins have now lost three in a row, a losing streak that coincides with reports circulating that head coach Claude Julien’s job security is in jeopardy.

    The bad news just keeps piling up for the Bruins: They’ve been shut out twice this week, as scoring continues to be an issue in Boston. They’re 22nd in the league in that category.

    On Friday, the Bruins had their chances and once again held the edge in puck possession against the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing the game with 19 more shot attempts then the visitors, per hockeystats.ca.

    But they couldn’t beat Scott Darling, who made 30 saves, and the real dagger came late in the third period when Marian Hossa scored off the rush with just over one minute remaining in regulation. Boston couldn’t even salvage a point out of this contest, losing 1-0.

    The Bruins were all over the Blackhawks in the first period. They held a wide edge in shots on goal, but the Blackhawks were able to escape on the strength of some solid goaltending. They just hung around, and were able to break through in the third period.

    The Bruins are still in a playoff position in the Atlantic Division. They are the top puck possession team in the league (although they have the second lowest shooting percentage at five-on-five) and Julien has had plenty of success behind that bench, helping guide the organization to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a run to the Final in the lockout shortened campaign.

    It would seem unfair to pin this roster’s shortcomings on the coach, especially given the offseason plans initially set out by Bruins management.

    Though this loss likely puts Claude Julien Watch on high alert.