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.
Last season was a tough one on the ice for the New Jersey Devils, but a report in The New York Post indicates that things are much rockier on the accounting spreadsheets. Josh Kosman cited an anonymous source who reports that the team missed a $100 million Sept. 1 loan payment, which is a troubling issue because it could push the franchise toward bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy problems could also reportedly extend to the Prudential Center, the Devils’ four-year-old arena located in Newark. Devils Arena Entertainment is on the hook for $180 million in payments, according to Kosman and other reports.
The source told Kosman that the Devils are “blowing up,” which we will assume isn’t slang for “on a roll” in this instance. The report indicates that the Devils’ issues are multifaceted.
The first problem is that the team’s ownership is in a state of flux, even if majority owner Jeff Vanderbeek stays in the picture. Co-owner Ray Chambers has been trying to sell his share of the team for about a year but hasn’t had any luck so far. Kosman also writes that Vanderbeek doesn’t have a good relationship with lenders, which could exacerbate the issues.
“You have a bank group that wants nothing to do with Vanderbeek,” said a source, who added they have been upset with how late they have been with financial information.
Some lenders are already considering selling their stakes to vulture investors, the source said.
“This is going to be a very difficult situation.”
The third problem is truly outside the Devils’ hands: the NBA’s lockout could ruin the New Jersey Nets’ final season at the Prudential Center. A full lockout would knock out 25 percent of the building’s 161 scheduled events, which is even more problematic considering the fact that the Nets are reportedly the reason why the building earned its first profitable year. Either way, the Nets aren’t going to be a part of a long-term solution for the Devils’ alleged financial problems.
It all seems like a very messy situation for the Devils, who haven’t responded to the report at this time. Like many other ownership/bankruptcy scenarios, this looks to be a fluid situation, so we will keep an eye out for responses from the team and any other updates.
Few expected the New Jersey Devils to flop this badly in 2010-11. Perhaps the lost season hurt team owner Jeff Vanderbeek the most, because Michele Steele of Bloomberg TV reports that the team could be up for sale.
If the report is true, it certainly wouldn’t be an example of selling high. After years of being an elite team in the NHL – even if they rarely played captivating hockey – the Devils have been miserable this season.
Maybe Vanderbeek simply cannot accept the idea of signing Ilya Kovalchuk’s checks for the next decade-plus. Perhaps the team isn’t a box office smash at the Prudential Center in Newark. Whatever the case may be, we’ll keep you updated to see if this rumor gets squashed or if the hunt to find a new owner picks up.