The New Jersey Devils used to be a juggernaut, but this will be the third time in four seasons that they have fallen short of the playoffs. The one exception was when they went to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
Of course, they then lost to the Los Angeles Kings, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello still used it as a pretext to look on the bright side.
“I’ll look at a positive. If you can say one out of every four years you’d be in the Stanley Cup Finals, would you take it?” Lamoriello asked, per the Star-Ledger. “Approach it from a positive standpoint. We’re here to win the Stanley Cup. We’re here to win, not to just get into the playoffs.
“You can (take) that answer any way you want about three out of four years (missing) the playoffs. If it means missing the playoffs to do certain things to win the Stanley Cup, then that’s what it means. That’s mediocrity just getting to the playoffs.”
The problem is that’s the argument a franchise uses when they’re embracing a rebuilding process where the team is willing to endure losing seasons in the hope of building a squad with a chance to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup.
That’s not what the Devils have been doing though. They do have some young talent like forward Adam Henrique, but the core of this team are players in or past their prime. They lost Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in back-to-back years and responded over the summer by signing 31-year-old Ryane Clowe, 34-year-old Michael Ryder, and 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr. Do those sound like the guys you go after when you’re focused on the future rather than present?
Of course, there’s a reason why they would try to win now even after losing two of their best offensive players: Because the Devils didn’t have a draft pick in 2014. They lost it as part of their punishment for their original attempt to sign Kovalchuk to a long-term deal. The NHL has since partially reversed that decision so that the Devils will get the 30th overall pick. That’s better, but doesn’t compensate them for their shortcomings this season.
Maybe Lamoriello’s statement is an indication of what’s to come for the Devils though. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t fully embrace a rebuilding process ahead of a season where they didn’t control their first round pick. Going forward, they won’t have that issue.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.