In the eyes of most New Jersey Devils‘ fans, General Manager Lou Lamoriello has been the savior of the organization. He is the man who brought them out of the Mickey Mouse-era and guided them to three Stanley Cups, five appearances in the Finals as well as a 13-year postseason streak. The 70-year-old Rhode Island native was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012.
Despite all the accolades, the Devils have hit a rough patch of late and many may have begun to wonder if Lamoriello had begun to go soft in his twilight years. The man who changed coaches as often as he changed his socks left former player turned head coach John MacLean behind the bench much longer than he should have. MacLean’s disastrous run cost the team its string of playoff appearances.
Lamoriello’s unwritten policy of not negotiating with players during the season certainly did not help keep former captain Zach Parise in the Garden State. Many hockey analysts and fans thought this may have led to Parise leaving the Devils for the comforts of home in Minnesota.
In the past, the former Providence College alumni and hockey coach would pull the rabbit out of the hat with the big trade or free agent signing to shore up an already tight team. However, the Devils, who have missed the playoffs for two out of the past three seasons, have been anything but tight. They seem to have more holes than a piece of swiss cheese. With many on the roster set to become restricted or unrestricted free agents in days, the team faces more questions than answers.
At yesterday’s draft, fans watched anxiously when the No. 9 pick rolled around, wondering what player in a very deep draft the team would choose to help find the light through the darkness. When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stepped up to the microphone, fans in attendance began to boo. Bettman quieted them by telling the them they would “want to hear this.” He was right.
One of the questions plaguing fans was who would take over when their goalie extraordinaire, Martin Brodeur finally hung up the skates on his illustrious career. In what can best be described as one of the shrewdest moves of the off season thus far, the Devils traded their first round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for American goaltender, Cory Schneider.
Brodeur’s heir had been named and he is a good one. Schneider has long stood in the shadow of Roberto Luongo in the Canucks organization and the controversy disrupted the team last year. Well, Schneider isn’t behind Luongo any longer, though, he certainly has some tough pads to fill.
“Working with the best goalie who ever played the game can be nothing but good for me,” Schneider said in an interview with the Star Ledger. “I’m excited to meet him and I’ll try to learn as much as I can from him.”
“I think we’re getting a goaltender, not only for the present but for the future,” Lamoriello explained in the Star Ledger. “Certainly Marty is at the point where he can’t play the way he played as far as the number of games he played. And this young man has proven to be a No. 1 goaltender. I feel great about it.”
As do the fans because it is a sign someone else isn’t exactly ready for retirement either. Brodeur still has something left in the tank and so does Lamoriello.