Will this be Patrik Elias’ last season as a New Jersey Devil? Elias would like to end his career with the club he started with, but his contract is up this summer and once again General Manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t talking.
However, there isn’t anything new about that and Elias shouldn’t take it personally. It is Lamoriello’s unwritten policy that he does not negotiate contracts during the season because he views it as an unnecessary distraction. The only notable exception to that rule was goaltender Martin Brodeur.
Several years ago, Lamoriello hammered out a deal with the goalie during the season, breaking his own rule. Yet, last year he waited until the summer to ink the future Hall of Famer to a two-year deal. Although, this was most likely due to the question mark as to whether or not Zach Parise was going to stay.
The 36-year-old Czechoslovakian native is hardly at the end of his stay in the NHL. He still has gas left in the tank and with two Stanley Cup rings, he can certainly contribute on and off the ice. The center tested the free agent waters in the summer of 2006 and wound up remaining in the Garden State after a deal with the rival New York Rangers fell through.
Elias is the Devils’ all-time leader in goals as well as in points. He owns the team record for most points in a season with 96 and has netted the most game-winning tallies at 74. His numbers are definitely impressive and would warrant a contract extension. Yet, Lamoriello rarely changes his pattern and this philosophy may have cost him Parise, but will the drama have a similar ending for Elias?
“Who wouldn’t want to talk about it during the season,” Elias reasoned in an interview earlier this week in The Star Ledger. “Then you would see they have interest. And, if you like the offer, why wouldn’t you sign? But that never came up here. If it had happened it would’ve been great, but it didn’t happen. It’s getting kind of late now?”
For the struggling Devils, who are in grave danger of missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, Elias is a key member. Like the rest of his teammates, Elias has been pressing offensively. Prior to tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins, the center only had one assist in the last five games. For the season, Elias has 10 goals and 20 assists in 39 games.
Despite the fact that this evening’s contest was a must win, the Devils came out flat and were down three goals before you could blink. By the end of the second, they were down two defensemen. Captain Bryce Salvador left the ice after taking a Zdeno Chara slap shot to the hand. Anton Volchenkov was given a five minute major and a game misconduct following an elbow to the head of Brad Marchand.
Elias clipped the lead to three by the middle of the second. They would get as close as one before the Bruins would net a fifth though with Brodeur on the bench they found the back of the net once again.
While it was a novelty for the team to actually score four goals in a game, it was for naught. Two vital points slipped by the wayside again and the hole got deeper as the Rangers won their game.
If this is really Patrik Elias’ swan song for the Devils, the final act is going to end early.