Was New Jersey Devils' Demotion Of Eric Gelinas Just To Send A Message?

By Nick Villano
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Gelinas was surprisingly sent down to the Albany Devils on Friday after a bad loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.  He was said to be going so that he could work on his game, especially the defensive side of things.  Lou Lamoriello told the media that this was a normal process and that he wanted to make sure that Gelinas didn’t fall into a further slump.

Gelinas’ demotion lasted all of one game, and it was a terrible game in which the New Jersey Devils lost to the worst team in the NHL in the Buffalo Sabres.  He was announced to be back with the team after they placed Patrik Elias on IR.  In fact, Gelinas was never in Albany physically; he was told not to go.

What was the point of all this then?  It caused a mini frenzy with the fans.  The Devils media (although small, they are passionate) had a million questions for Lamoriello and Peter DeBoer.  They had to talk about how they thought Jon Merrill was doing better than Gelinas, which came to the surprise of many.  It seemed like a really sticky situation.

I understand that Anton Volchenkov was back and they needed to find a way to get him back into the lineup.  They did not have enough room on the team to keep everyone, and Gelinas could be sent down to the AHL without anyone being able to claim him.  On paper, it could really make sense, but with how he started out his season with the Devils, did you really want to take a chance with his psyche?

The only logical explanation is that they wanted him to know that if his play slipped more he would be sent down.  Gelinas was admittedly not as good the last few weeks as when he first arrived.  He needed to turn around his play in the defensive zone, but that seemed like growing pains more than anything.  Most Devils fans were willing to take that with the offense he was producing for the team.

He was in a slump prior to being sent down, even on the offensive side.  Before getting an assist against the Blackhawks, he went six games without a point.  One could argue this is just the kind of roller coaster that comes with a rookie season.  Even the dead set superstars go through slumps during their rookie years.

The only way to know if the demotion helped Gelinas is to see him play.  There’s no word yet on whether or not he is going to play against the Philadelphia Flyers, but one could assume he may not right away since he played on a line with Adam Larsson in practice, who has been ruled out for Wednesday.  Hopefully when he returns we will see the Eric Gelinas from earlier in the season.  The Devils sorely need it.

Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports.  He also adds to their NBA, NFL and MLB content for the site.  You can follow him on Twitter here.

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