The New Jersey Devils are worthy of their position as the Eastern Conference champions, but their ice wasn’t Cup-caliber on Wednesday.
“It was like playing with a tennis ball, quite honestly,” Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown said regarding the poor ice conditions in Game 1 at the Prudential Center.
Teammate Justin Williams was more diplomatic in his remarks, but did say “the ice wasn’t very good.”
You won’t find a dissenting opinion from Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. He attacked Madison Square Garden a couple weeks ago for its “awful” boards and ice that’s “not good.”
After Game 1, he wasn’t afraid to call out his home arena for having what he felt was a poor playing surface.
This isn’t the first time that the Prudential Center ice has been criticized. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen bashed the conditions after their morning skate prior to Game 3 of their first round series, and the issue came up again in the second round.
Here’s the latest from Frank Seravalli of Philly.com:
Heading into Game 3, the ice conditions are the biggest thing to watch for the Flyers on an otherwise quiet Thursday morning. The Flyers held an optional morning skate after a brief practice on Wednesday.
Normally, they wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but it’s a perfect storm for the ice making staff in Newark.
That’s because New Jersey’s favorite son, Bruce Springsteen, made the sold out Prudential Center crowd roar late into the night on Wednesday. It was Springsteen’s final stop on tour before heading to Europe and unbelievably his first-ever concert in Newark.
With a late changeover, little time to work on the ice, and messy conditions outside, it could be an interesting morning. It’s supposed to be nearly 70 degrees in North Jersey on Thursday with 80 percent humidity.
This isn’t the first time the Prudential Center ice has come under fire — Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen ripped it prior to Game 3 of the opening round.
“If the quality of ice is anything like it was this morning at the skate, I don’t know,” Dineen said, as per The Star-Ledger. “I think their customer service probably will be pretty embarrassed to see that’s what they are putting out there for people to see.
“It made for a pretty sloppy morning. If the ice is anything like it was this morning, it will make for a very sloppy game. No fun for the fans. A lot of water out there.”
Of note: Florida went on to win 4-3, despite falling behind 3-0 just 6:16 into the game.
It’s an honor that’s been rumored for some time now, but Scott Niedermayer will officially get his due from the New Jersey Devils having his number retired.
Niedermayer’s no. 27 will be lifted to the rafters at Prudential Center in Newark on December 16 against the Dallas Stars. Niedermayer will join former defensemen Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens as those honored by having their number retired by the team and proving that the Devils of the 90s and 2000s were all about being tough along the blue line.
Fire & Ice’s Tom Gulitti has the word from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello as to what Niedermayer meant to the organization and why he’s being honored by the team.
“Scott Niedermayer’s talent and leadership played significant roles in each of our three Stanley Cup Championships,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. “We look forward to welcoming the Niedermayer family back to New Jersey as we retire Scott’s no. 27.”
Niedermayer’s career started with the Devils as part of one of the more inauspicious deals in NHL history. While the Devils selected Niedermayer third in the NHL draft in 1991, it was a pick the Devils acquired from Toronto in exchange for Tom Kurvers in 1989. The Leafs’ blunder turned into New Jersey’s ultimate gain as Niedermayer went on to have a, likely, Hall Of Fame career in New Jersey and Anaheim while Kurvers lasted just 89 games in Toronto before being shipped off to Vancouver for Brian Bradley late in 1991.
Niedermayer went on to win four Stanley Cups in his career, three with New Jersey and one in Anaheim but his career in New Jersey is what made him a legend in NHL circles including a Norris Trophy in 2003-2004. Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe with Anaheim in 2007. It’s an honor for the former Devil that comes a bit overdue since his retirement in last June.
Some Devils fans didn’t like how Niedermayer left the organization signing as a free agent with the Ducks after the lockout ended in 2005, but anyone thinking the Devils would’ve been as successful without his play is out of their mind. Niedermayer is one of the best the team and the league has seen over the years.