by pcoffey on 07/05/12 at 12:12 PM ET
On the day after Zach Parise went home to Minnesota with enough cash to choke a horse, the New Jersey Devils are left to wonder how the team will perform minus its captain.
Yes, the loss of Parise is disappointing, but it is far from a death sentence. Imagine how much worse it would all seem if Parise had opted to go across the Hudson to the Rangers on down the Turnpike to the Flyers or across I-80 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. That would have made it all the worse for Devils fans.
GM Lou Lamoriello spoke of a Plan B during a media conference call Wednesday to discuss Parise’s departure. Lamoriello was typical Lamoriello, admitting disappointment, but not deviating from his usual understated approach. He has been through this before and knows that despite the initial letdown, there are always remedies to any problem.
And truth be told, Lamoriello has had a very successful week. Despite the perception that he would be unable to re-sign many—or any—of the team’s free agents because of ownership’s financial problems, Lamoriello got his two goalies, fourth line and a valuable defenseman re-signed. The only losses were Parise, admittedly a biggie, and Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was a valuable player after being acquired from Carolina.
As we all know, Lamoriello spent many years at Providence College, so it isn’t surprising that he has something of an academic mindset when it comes to building a team. Every year you have seniors, veteran players who will be departing at season’s end. Then you have juniors who are rising into the demanding roles of the veterans, and then sophomores and freshmen who are watching and learning what has to be done.
Call it hockey’s circle of life and in it, Lamoriello has come to learn to embrace change.You can’t keep the same team around year after year. It becomes old and stagnant that way. Even with an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final under its belt, there were going to be changes. Adam Oates already has left to become head coach of the Capitals. Larry Robinson may well retire. Now Parise and Ponikarovsky have departed, opening up roster spots for some of the team’s prospects, if they prove to be ready, or via trade if the right deal comes along.
Never underestimate Lamoriello. When Ilya Kovalchuk was on the trade market back in the day few people figured the Devils to be players. Even after the trade with Atlanta, Kovalchuk was surely only going to be a rental. After all, Lamoriello would never spend that kind of money on a player. But he did, and from all reports he was ready to do it again to retain Parise. He just couldn’t offer Minnesota, the only advantage the Wild had.
So while it would be foolish to predict the Devils will now spend money for the sake of spending money, it isn’t the least bit foolish to expect Lamoriello to check into some other free agents or, more likely, explore the trade market.
who’s out there? You already know all the names, but there probably are some more names you haven’t heard in the rumor mill. That’s where Lamoriello does his best work, away from the rumor mill, away from Twitter and Facebook and sports talk radio.
“You don’t replace a Zach Parise, you just don’t do that,” Lamoriello said. “You have to make some adjustments. We’ll make some transactions if possible.”
Possible? Make that highly probable.
“We have some outstanding young players here, some who have tremendous potential,” Lamoriello said. “We’ll do whatever we can to go to Plan B. What that is, we’ll have no discussions with that. We’ll do whatever we can to get ourselves better.”
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