John Madden

Who should New Jersey’s next captain be?


There have been nine captains in the history of the New Jersey Devils: Don Lever, Mel Bridgman, Kirk Muller, Bruce Driver, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Patrick Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner and, most recently, Zach Parise.

With Parise gone, the search for No. 10 is underway.

There’s no shortage of candidates in the Jersey room:

— Elias, 36, is one of the longest-serving Devils, has worn the “C” previously and was an alternate last season. That said, he still has a bad taste in his mouth from how his time as Devils captain ended:

“I don’t need a letter to know what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “I had the C. I didn’t like the situation the way it was handled when it was taken away. I don’t want to be put in that position again. I think I can help all the young guys and be a leader no matter what. It won’t matter to me.”

Elias was named Devils’ captain before the 2006-07 season by then head coach Claude Julien. He was stripped of the C by Brent Sutter at the start of the 2007 training camp. Sutter told the media about it before discussing it with Elias.

— Ilya Kovalchuk captained the Thrashers for two seasons and also wore an “A” in 2011-12. He’s New Jersey’s highest-paid player and led the team in scoring last year. He also finished 10th in Hart Trophy voting.

— For some, Martin Brodeur is the New Jersey Devils. While having a goalie as captain isn’t commonplace, it has been done before, most recently with Roberto Luongo in Vancouver.

(Granted, many saw this as a failed experiment that ended with Luongo “relinquishing” the captaincy after the 2009-10 season.)

— Veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador has been with the club for four years and recently signed a three-year extension. He’s one of just four players on the roster signed through 2014-15.

There is another option for New Jersey:

No captain.

The club adopted this practice for the first season post-lockout (2005-06) following Stevens’ retirement and Niedermayer’s departure to Anaheim.

Rather than anoint a new captain, the club opted to use four alternates from a pool of Elias, Scott Gomez, Colin White, John Madden, Brian Rafalski and Alex Mogilny.

So…what should the Devils do? Have at it in the comments section.


It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT

Offseason Report: New Jersey Devils

John Madden takes worst of collision with teammate Tomas Kopecky


Despite hosting their first Game 7 at the Bank Atlantic Center, the Florida Panthers probably went into tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils as the underdog in many peoples’ eyes. Their resiliency will be put to the test that much more after a very tough start. Adam Henrique scored a minute and a half in while Panthers teammates John Madden and Tomas Kopecky suffered from a brutal, accidental collision just moments later.

Madden was seen bleeding over the surface until Panthers trainers helped him off the ice. Update: quite remarkably, Madden returned to the ice within the first period, according to reports such as Tom Gulliti’s Tweet.

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No word on the severity or specificity of Madden’s injury, but that collision looked ugly. Brian Engblom described it as “head-on-head” impact. You could see Madden’s head torque back from the impact.

Scoring the first goal has been big in Game 7s and crucial in this series so far, yet if any team can defy expectations, it’s the Panthers. Tonight’s game certainly didn’t begin favorably for Florida, though.

Playoffs new to Panthers fans, not players

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On Friday, the Florida Panthers will participate in their first playoff game since 2000. The length of their former drought is staggering to say the least, but if you assume that their first round opponents, the New Jersey Devils, have a big edge in postseason experience, you would be mistaken.

Although the Devils have been almost the polar opposite of the Panthers when it comes to their ability to get to the playoffs, the thing you have to keep in mind is that Panthers GM Dale Tallon has made sweeping changes to his team in recent years. As a consequence, 15 of the 20 players projected to play for the Panthers on Friday already have some playoff experience under their belts. Some Panthers like Brian Campbell and John Madden have even won the Stanley Cup before.

Their coach, Kevin Dineen, also has 59 games worth of postseason experience on his resume, although that was as a player, not a coach. Still, it helps that Dineen and so many of his players understand what it means to compete in the first round and beyond.

Could Florida’s playoff starter be…Scott Clemmensen?


Following Florida’s 4-1 defeat of Carolina on Saturday — clinching the first-ever Southeast Division title in franchise history — Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen had some interesting things to say about his goaltending.

Most interesting? He doesn’t know who his Game 1 playoff starter will be.

After backup Scott Clemmensen stopped 34 of 35 shots against the ‘Canes, Dineen said it’s going to be tough to decide who will start Florida’s first-round playoff matchup against New Jersey — Clemmensen or Jose Theodore.

“Clem made a real statement with his game tonight, as well as in the last month,” Dineen told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Those two have made it a very tough decision to see who’s going to get the start in Game 1.”

More, from the Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov:

At 34, Clemmensen played a huge role in the Panthers’ success this season, going 14-6-6, or earning points in 20 of 26 decisions, with a 2.57 GAA. When Theodore was in and out of the lineup with a knee injury from Jan. 5 to Feb. 11, Clemmensen stepped in and went 7-3-3.

“It’s always special when you play your ex-team and not in a negative fashion. I don’t care [who starts],” said Clemmensen, who is 3-0-1 with a .962 save percentage in his last four starts.

“It’s always special “Whether it’s Jose in there I’m rooting for him because I want everyone on this team to win, so regardless if it’s him or me I’m going to be ready to play and be on my best game.”you play your ex-team and not in a negative fashion.

The narrative of Clemmensen facing his former Devils mates has not been lost on the Panthers. Clemmensen had been the backup in New Jersey until 2008-09, when Martin Brodeur went down with an injury. That opened the door for a temporary starting gig and Clemmensen didn’t look back, posting a 25-13-1 record with a 2.39 goals-against-average, which was good enough to earn a $3.6 million, three-year free-agent deal with the Panthers.

“Most people might be surprised, but I’m not, to be quite honest with you,” said Panthers center John Madden, who played with Clemmensen in New Jersey. “I remember when Marty [Brodeur] went down [in 2008-09] and he came in for three-quarters of the season and he won 30-something games for us.

“He was unbelievable back then.”

Which begs the question: Can Clemmensen be unbelievable now?

Theodore outduels Miller in seven-round shootout

The Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres need every point they can get right now, so after battling through the standard 60 minutes and another five minutes of four-on-four overtime hockey, neither team was willing to concede that point in a shootout. The Sabres and Panthers dueled for seven shootout rounds, before Florida finally earned their fourth consecutive victory.

Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis got the ball rolling with a goal just 1:15 minutes into the contest. Ennis has been explosive lately with four goals and seven points in his last four games and his linemates, Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno, have been just as hot.

The Florida Panthers struck back late in the first with goals just 38 seconds apart scored by Mikael Samuelsson and John Madden. For Madden it was his second goal in as many games after failing to register a point in his first 19 contests with the Panthers.

Derek Roy found the back of the net on a power-play goal at 9:41 of the second period. However, the game got quiet after that, with Buffalo and Florida combining for a mere five shots on goal in the third period and overtime combined.

It was a goaltending duel in the shootout with Jose Theodore and Ryan Miller each surrendering just one goal in the first six rounds. Finally, Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov broke the tie in the seventh round and then Theodore stopped Drew Stafford’s attempt to end the game.

With this win, Florida now has a five point lead over the Washington Capitals in the Southeast Division race with just 11 games remaining in the season. The Panthers need to stay strong in the final three weeks of the regular season, but the division is now theirs to lose. Meanwhile, Buffalo is just two points shy of eighth place, but they have also played one more contest than the eighth seed Capitals.