Busy day for the Devils: Dave Barr joins DeBoer’s crowded coaching staff

Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils were a busy organization this week. A day after unloading Brian Rolston’s contract to the New York Islanders and on the same day as they signed restricted free agent Zach Parise to a one-year, $6 million contract, the Devils added yet another assistant coach to Peter DeBoer’s staff. The organization announced that former Devils player Dave Barr was hired as an assistant coach—a move that completes New Jersey’s coaching staff for the 2011-12 season. Barr spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach in Minnesota with the Wild and was an assistant for the Colorado Avalanche during the 2008-09 season.

GM Lamoriello explained the final hiring to Tom Gulitti of NorthJersey.com’s Fire and Ice blog:

“Dave was in the organization as a player and he has experience as an assistant coach in the league with Minnesota and Colorado. And with Pete coming in, he gives us another perspective from the outside, another set of eyes. I felt that was important.”

(snip)

“Pete sat down with all the assistants from last year and everything was 100 percent positive. If he wasn’t 100 percent comfortable with any of them, they would not have been brought back.”

For those keeping track at home, the Devils bench is going to be as crowded as a New York taxi cab on New Year’s Eve. Barr joins assistant coaches Larry Robinson and Adam Oates behind the bench, in addition to goaltending coach and former Devil Chris Terreri. Mix in newly-minted head coach Peter DeBoer and there will be no shortage of opinions or perspectives on this year’s coaching staff. Judging by Lamoriello’s comments, that’s exactly what he’s looking for.

The 50-year-old Barr brings a wealth of management experience to the table in his new role. Since retiring as a player in 1997, Barr has served as a general manager for Guelph in the OHL and Houston of the AHL. He’s also had experience as a head coach while leading Guelph and Houston in the IHL. He’ll bring all of that experience with him as the Devils look to put together all of the pieces on their coaching staff to lead next year’s squad.

Does it really take this many people to replace Jacques Lemaire?

Next year the Devils will look to build upon their strong second-half from last season. After Lemaire took over, New Jersey was a very respectable 28-17-3—a record that included a 20-2-2 stretch that started in January. Unfortunately, with the Devils horrendous record to start the season (9-22-2 under MacLean), they dug too deep of a hole to recover and make the playoffs. If they can put together 82 games like they did under Lemaire, the Devils will be a playoff team that could resemble the 103-point team from 2009-10. If they Devils perform like they did for MacLean, well, the playoffs won’t be a concern.

Hey, if things go sideways in New Jersey, there won’t be any shortage of scapegoats, right?

Capitals’ Tom Wilson has a discipline hearing today for interference

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The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Saturday morning that it has scheduled a disciplinary hearing with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson as a result of his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas on Friday night.

It will be the first hearing for the department under the direction of its new leader, George Parros.

This particular incident happened early in the third period of the Blues’ 4-0 win on Friday night.

Here is a look at the entire sequence, including the fight that Wilson found himself in with Dmitri Jaskin in response to the hit.

It is clear that Wilson delivered his hit long after Thomas was in possession of the puck.

Even though Wilson always seems to be getting attention for some of his hits and physical play he has never been suspended in his career. His only punishment from the league has been in the form of two fines — one for diving/embellishment, and another for kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary during the 2015-16 playoffs.

The fact that he has a hearing for his hit would seem to indicate a suspension might be on the horizon. The only question is whether or not it will just end his preseason (the Capitals still have four more games) or if it will carry over into the regular season.

Antti Niemi had to make a save with his bare hand

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Antti Niemi made 31 saves in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, and 30 of them were pretty standard.

The one that wasn’t came in the third period when he lost his glove during a scramble around the net and still managed to instinctively make a save on the puck. With his bare hand.

Niemi said after the game, via the Tribune Review, that he thought the referees would stop the play after his glove came off, and when they didn’t “I just kept playing.”

You can watch the play by clicking here.

Probably not the type of thing you want to see happening because that looks like a great way to break a bone (or the entire hand) and get sidelined for extended period of time. Niemi said the officials told him there will no longer be an automatic whistle for goalies losing a glove or a blocker, but that one will remain for when they lose their helmet.

The Penguins signed Niemi to a one-year contract this summer as a replacement for Marc-Andre Fleury after they lost him in the expansion draft to the Vegas Golden Knights. Niemi is looking to rebound from a tough year in Dallas. He will serve as Matt Murray‘s backup for the season.

‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut

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The Tampa Bay Lightning and National Hockey League unveiled the 2018 All-Star Game logo Friday.

Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.

His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.

It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.

He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.

His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.

“It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”

Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior

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The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.

On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.

The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.

“Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.

“We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”

Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.