Category Archives: Eastern Conference

The Sporting Muse: The New Jersey Sports Fan Hits the Sh*t

The following  feature interview   originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of NJ Wag, published out of Red Bank, New Jersey- Monmouth County.

The Sporting Muse
The New Jersey Sports Fan Hits the Sh*t
by Heidi Pope Werner

Love the games, but hate the $10 dollar watered-down stadium beer? Been busted in a Tebow Jets jersey lately? The New Jersey Sports Fan feels your pain. Armed with attitude and comedic cracks at sports fans in the Garden State, this Jersey Shore native takes to the road to find the best and worst from Soho to Seaside.

Memorable games and plays remain in the history books, but who remembers the fans?  Enter The New Jersey Sports Fan, the man known for his love of New Jersey and the sports that go with the territory.

Armed with a video camera, sunglasses and a Jets hat, this crude and rude fan rants and raves on his days off about the love of his life- sports. Not much can tear him away from the field, the track or the arena.  This is the story of the guts and glory of the average hard-working Jersey guy.

Despite his busy shooting schedule, the Jersey Sports Fan took time out to sit down with NJ Wag to talk sports, celebrities and snacks:

So who are your teams?
JETS, METS, RANGERS, KNICKS

What do you have to say about your beloved Jets?

Ya know the worst storm in history hit the Jersey Shore and the Jets
have managed to be a bigger F-ing disaster.  This season made me sick.
Literally, week 13 I became very ill.  Pneumonia, shitting my pants,
the works. The doc said that I was suffering from emotional trauma.
It was true.  They did me in.  I’m glad to be into the winter.  I pray
the Knicks and Rangers make me forget the Fall.

Best game day munchies?

On a big game day I start with around 4-6 coffees and a porkroll egg
and cheese. Four hours before kick off, tipoff, puck drop, or first
pitch, I like to get into some cold ones, and I match the suds with a
few dogs.  I usually have 4 beverages for each tube steak.  I usually
do around 8 tube steaks before the game.  You do the math sweetheart.

What team do you hate the most?

I truly despise the Phillies.  One time I went to a Phillies/Mets
game down in Philly. It was when the Mets had Pedro Martinez.  He got
lit up in the first inning.  Naturally I was very upset and had some
choice words for Phillies fans around me.   Long story short those
Philly creeps put me in the hospital for 3 days just because I made a
comparison between their city and a toilet in an all you can eat
Chinese buffet.

Do you listen to sports radio?

Oh yea.  I’ve logged a lot of hours with Mike Francesa.  He can be
like a prophet at times.  Lately half of his commentary is just his
fat ass breathing heavily into the mic.  He’s a pig, but I still
listen.  I’ll always listen.

Best word of advice form a sports celeb?
Nothing gets the crowd going better than a good fight and beer.

Describe your perfect sports outing?

WOW that’s tough….It would probably start in a hot tub with some of
the girls that work at Fantasies out on 36.  Maybe catch a matinee at
the Garden and get a Jets playoff night game.  But Lord knows that
won’t happen.  I am sick of fantasizing about stuff like this.  All
I need is some wins and teams to be proud of.  Ya know being a Fan can
hurt.  It can hurt so bad you forget what it’s all about.   It’s about
drinking, screaming, and showing your kid how to act like a man at a
special event.  Maybe if you’re lucky you can beat up a Phillies fan
while you’re at it.

Are you married?

Married to what?  I am married to my teams.  I have found that
marriage and I don’t mix well.  I prefer to date dancers that don’t
ask many questions.

Best Bruce encounter?

One time I saw the boss late night in the Windmill.  He was solo so I
took a seat next to him.  I noticed he didn’t have Kraut on his dog.
This was upsetting for me because the Windmill has great kraut and his
dog looked naked without a kraut dress on it.  So I said to him “Let
me put some kraut on your dog for you” he said, “don’t touch my dog
man.” I said “trust me Bruce just trust me.” He said alright.  He
loved the dog dressed with kraut.   He still calls me when he is in town.
Love that guy.

The laughter and inspiration behind the videos are hidden gems of a satirical sideline fan and the frustrations most sports lovers face. Every video stems from a situation we all have found ourselves in at one time or another, and that’s what makes the viewpoint priceless.

In “Dreams Do Come True,” the New Jersey Sports Fan says it best, “Hello New Jersey, I feel much more comfortable,” as he heads to the Meadowlands with The Boss blaring on the radio.

Can’t get the Rangers game on TV?  NJ Sports Fan takes on the multi-million dollar renovation of Madison Square Garden in “MSG vs. Time Warner Cable.” He hits NJ Transit and lands at the Garden for an experimental field trip, because he can’t get the game on cable.  If you have an extra ticket to the game, please contact the New Jersey Sports Fan.

Ever thought of working in sports?  Yep, he has too. “Referee Replacement Rep Application” takes him to the field to get a fall gig in the NFL, a dream job he feels he is qualified to fill.  The wealth of material from experience, talent, and the dedication to take the hardcore to hilarious reminds us all to keep trying, even if it is painful, futile, but ultimately fun.

The videos stem from characters he and the crew grew up with around the neighborhood and eccentric fans he has met along the way. Everyone remembers the dad on the block who got mad at the lawn mower on a quiet Sunday afternoon, or the golfer with the brown and orange plaid pants, but New Jersey Sports Fan wants you to remember the classic characters we know and can’t forget because of their absurdity.

A must watch for any New Jerseyan is the now historical June 2011 stroll through Seaside Heights reminiscing about teenage dreams on the Jersey Shore in “Summer in Seaside.” The sights and sounds of the boardwalk and the commentary on the Bennies classify this as the real deal. Sports website, Bleacher Report, called this “A true classic.”

Closer to home, “Just in Time for Preakness,” takes the Jersey Sports Fan to Monmouth Park. Sporting the obligatory denim jacket over the tank-top, while smoking a stogie, he utters the words that best fit the moment “make me wiser my friend..be a buddy and bud me up.”

“Breaking the Barrier,” brings new meaning to women’s lib.  Explore how three dudes could portray a relationship faux paus not discussed in most circles, and simplify the message beyond expectations.  Share this video with someone you love.

Based out of Bernie Hatefield Productions, the crew of three takes their stories and love of sports to a new level of comedic bromance.  Every person, every place and every event is fair game to be reworked and remembered in the twisted viewpoints of some sports guys, but it’s truthfully local and contagiously continental.  Jersey jargon is included in the way only brash jersey boys can dish.

Follow the Jersey Sports fan and Bernie Hatefield productions on their website http://www.berniehatefield.com, Twitter https://twitter.com/BernieHatefield, Brobible.com and of course, You Tube.

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Hockey Chutzpah and the Looney Lockout

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Gary Bettman have infringed on the end of summer and there’s no end in sight. Summer isn’t over, yet hockey fans are wondering if they should pack up the sunscreen and swimsuits just yet for skates and snow gear. Training camp is just weeks away, or is it?

Kudos for  the Russian hockey “activist” Alex Ovechkin for making efforts to save the 2012-13 season and a chance to rebound. Representing the modern hockey god, Sidney Crosby has also put his actions to save the careers of many of his colleagues. Depending on Crosby’s medical clearance, he may not see much of a season despite his efforts.

This is about money, isn’t it? Yes, yes, it is.

Fans have been raging over ticket prices for years. Average Joe attends AHL or college games. Average Joe does not enjoy sitting in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena or Madison Square Garden. Really, they don’t. The real competition is the affiliates and training/development programs that feed into the NHL that will benefit from a lockout.

Let’s not even talk about the KHL or European leagues where many snubbed NHL players are making their livelihood.

The proposal is to spread the wealth. Successful teams needs to help the fledglings so the money is created equal. Slashing salaries of the players and limits to contracts still does not resolve the high cost of being an NHL fan.

As a hockey writer, the lockout will impede the progress made under the direction of…em…Bettman in the media. Tormented and despised, his tactics grew the sport’s popularity and TV deals proving the strategy is working. Authority figures ruining everything is not a new concept, but it’s not the coaches, announcers, trainers or any of the staff who have crippled the season. Ownership and investment calls all the shots and signs the paychecks.

All this is important to hometown hockey hooligans who cannot imagine life without hockey, but they will if a deal cannot be met by Sept. 15.

On the Road to the Stanley Cup

Heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs, there’s a little for everyone. From traditional old-school matchups like the Pens and Flyers, to irksome bumps a team must get over like the pressure Nashville faces with Detroit. An interesting pairing in the West puts the Kings and Canucks in a must-see series.

The season starts here and now with a clean slate heading towards the coveted Stanley Cup. Whatever the ranking,the odds, the previous wins, teams have this chance once no matter what happened a few days ago. It’s now or never. The honor of making it to the playoffs can change the course of any team’s season.

East:

(4)Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5)Philadelphia Flyers– One of the best series to follow. The battle of Pennsylvania is always a regular season blowout. The Flyers have the talent in Claude Giroux and the moxy of Scott Hartnell to take on the challenge. With Sidney Crosby back for the Pens, Pittsburgh has the extra power-forward to take the points. Goaltending seems balanced in both nets. Pittsburgh can’t lose with Crosby. Pens win in 5.

(6)New Jersey Devils vs. (3)Florida Panthers The Devils have done a tremendous job this season rounding out their talent and finding ways to win. Though Brodeur was shaky in net early on, goaltending looks fixed for now. The Panthers have the momentum and the spirit to clinch this series. Panthers in 4.

(8)Ottawa Senators vs. (1)New York Rangers– New York clinched the East, so that would make this an easy series win…..not so fast. The Senators have had an upswing that could have them be the upset team. The Rangers may have some concerns and could take this for granted. Henrik Lundqvist wants this and has the tools to finish it. Rangers in 5.

(7)Washington Capitals vs. (2)Boston Bruins– Ovechkin and crew made it by an inch. Boston knows the path and with the depth, even top players for the Caps can’t get it done. Bruins in 4.

West:

(4)Nashville Predators vs. (5)Detroit Red Wings– Nashville always comes to face the Wings in the playoffs at some point. Detroit is the Preds’ brick wall. This year, with home-ice advantage, Nashville have the opportunity to swing it their way. Don’t underestimate the Wings performance this season. Hockeytown finds a way to win. Wings in 7.

(8)Los Angeles Kings vs. (1)Vancouver Canucks- Winner of the President’s Trophy, Vancouver is on a journey to win their destiny. Last season, the Canucks  lost in game 7 releasing chaos into the streets of Vancouver. Canucks can’t afford to lose again. The Kings have made an impressive run and will be formidable opponents. Quick can beat Luongo. Carter, Richards and Kopitar can beat Kesler, Burrows and at least one Sedin. The Canucks will take the series, but not without a fight in 6.

(7)San Jose Sharks vs. (2)St. Louis Blues– St. Louis will win. That’s all I can say. The Sharks have been a disappointment in many areas. The Blues have been an amazing team this season. Blues sweep.

(6)Chicago Blackhawks vs. (3) Phoenix Coyotes– Tight fight. The Coyotes just seem to find a way to win, but mostly goaltender Mike Smith has found a way to win and a nod for the Vezina. Chicago may not have it. The momentum going in to the series will determine the outcome. Coyotes in 7.

With the Western Conference team surge, the competition is fierce. The Eastern Conference has been the victim of sharp criticism for the sagging efforts of the traditionally winning side. New York serves as a good measurement of the talents of the Eastern teams. The West is growing in strength and the race was tight. The East brings the skill and sharpshooters,  while the West brings the intensity and passion play. What a great season it has been! Good luck to your playoff team and enjoy the games.

Detroit’s Still in the Game

The Detroit Red Wings sit in 4th in the Western Conference standing, a good place to wait and watch as the win streak starts again at two. The Wings are a league and fan favorite, even if fans love to hate them. After the Winter Classic, many eyes have turned to the next Classic in 2013 speculating that Detroit is the natural choice.

The venue shouldn’t be a problem if the weather holds true to Michigan winters. I was there visiting relatives over Christmas and was it cold. I’m talking, freezing to the point of slashing to the bone. Sure, Michigan would work, if there is ice. The Great Lakes haven’t actually frozen over in January. I grew up watching the Coast Guard’s big ice cutter slicing through for water flow.

But if you could transport everyone up to the U.P., the Upper Peninsula for those non Michiganders, there may be some down home feel to the shinny. Houghton Lake, or parts of Lake Superior are option. Northern Michigan is a winter wonderland close to the Canadian border, so the draw for Canada would be a benefit. A union of sorts for the NHL.

I say bring the Winter Classic 2013 to Detroit. Ford Field is not the worst option, better yet, freeze over the Big House in Ann Arbor, for a real crowd of 113,000 compared to the 47,000 for the Rangers/Flyers match up. The NHL would love the fan fare of that extravaganza.

The Big House

Next Winter Classic Location?

Best opponents for the Red Wings for a Winter Classic, who haven’t played, slates the Toronto Maple Leafs as closest geographically.  Columbus would be the closest, but I can’t see selling many tickets for that.

Any thoughts on your ideal match-up for the Red Wings Winter Classic 2013. If the Wings are not selected for the event, it becomes another bummer in the hat of the “moving to the East promise.” I’m sure Bettman and Illitch are talking quietly about the future of this proposal.

Winter Classic Wonders

If you haven’t noticed, the Winter Classic is days away. After your New Year’s hangover tune in on Jan. 2 for a classic match between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. I won’t spew a bunch of numbers or stats, rather top reasons to watch:

1. Jaromir Jagr– legend in his own time for both his skill on the ice and off. Jagr was formerly the captain of the New York Rangers and took the city by storm with his skill, hair and partying. The classic hockey hair is the mullet of Jagr.

2. Henrik Lundqvist– called King Henry by his followers and fans who hate him, he is the best of the best in his craft of goaltending. Watch him make ridiculously spectacular saves in the face of sticks and pucks flying at his pretty face. He won’t flinch or cry at all.

3. Claude Giroux– one of the most talented skaters on the ice. The Flyers have a piece of hockey gold with this one and expect some skilled offensive play with his 46 points on the year.

4. GAS LINE- Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan have made this line for the Rangers the buzz on the streets of Broadway and beyond. Watch and enjoy the cohesion and concept of offensive maneuvers these guys create.

5. Peter Laviolette– coach of the Flyers will look calm and cool compared to the other man on the Rangers bench. But don’t be fooled. Laviolette shoved Dallas Stars Steve Ott recently. He has turned the Flyers into a powerhouse of impressive players. It’s fascinating to watch the interaction on the bench and see how it transcribes on ice.

6. John Tortorella– on the other bench is Torts, the Rangers coach who will be shouting or hanging his head at some dumb move from the Blueshirts. His crew is young, talented, but not always the smartest. He’s entertaining for sure.

7. Carl Hagelin- this Michigan rookie is shocking the hockey community with his speed and go-to presence on the ice. New York fans are tough to win over, but he’s charmed them by the style of his play and his fabulous hair.

8. Brad Richards– has taken over as gossip column king dating Olivia Munn. His start with the Rangers was slow, but now he’s jump-started to produce almost every game.

9. The outdoor game– outdoor hockey games are the purest form of hockey. Can’t get better than that.

10. The rivalry- Only 90 miles apart, the Flyers and Rangers are fierce rivals. Bitter and promised to be a battle beyond last years Caps/Pens game.

Living in southern New Jersey, there is a split between Philly fans and New York fans. The Winter Classic  2012 represents Atlantic hockey in the eastern US and plenty of viewers will recall fond times when these two have met before. Families may be divided, friends may jeer against each other, but it’s all in good hockey fun. Happy New Year!!

Hockey Holiday Highlights

Kicking off the holiday season, Chanukah starts tonight and the Christmas countdown has begun. Between your menorah lighting, your shopping panic and the family fun and frantic, the best gift to yourself is to take in some of the hockey highlights happening this week.

Hockey Santa
Tues. Dec. 20  7:00 EST
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils– Classic Hudson Valley rivalry as the Devils are on a four-game winning streak. The Blueshirts of Broadway have held their own, but King Henry has been iffy in goal lately. New York’s pesky agitator Sean Avery and Jersey’s rock-em-sock-em David Clarkson could bump into a brawl at some point. Great rivalry for the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.
Wed. Dec. 21 10:00 EST
Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks– Nothing is like watching the Red Wings at Xmas time. Santa suits on ice. Vancouver oozes talent with the Sedins, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. The Wings boast Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and goalie Jimmy Howard. The list goes on and even Santa can’t keep up.
Thurs. Dec. 22 9:30 EST
Minnesota Wild at Edonton Oilers-Two of the hottest teams going with young talent at helm. Watch top draft picks Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins host Dany Heatley and Kyle Brodziak. Both teams are currently on a four-game losing streak.

Thurs. Dec. 22 10EST
Anaheim Ducks visit Los Angeles Kings– With plenty of talent, the Kings need to shake off their poor start and impress their new coach. The Ducks have weapons in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, but can they surpass the goaltending of the Kings Quick? If you’re up wrapping present, catch this SoCal battle.

Fri. Dec. 23 7EST
Philadelphia Flyers at the New York Rangers– Precursor to the Winter Classic. The teams are pumped, so this is a Friday night celebration. Flyers Jaromir Jagr, ex-Rangers captain returns to the Garden for a holiday shebang. Settle in and check your holiday lists or exchange your Chanukah gift.

Fri. Dec. 23 10:30 EST
Los Angeles Kings visit San Jose Sharks- It’s the battle of SoCal vs. NoCal. Still wrapping and up late, check out this showcase of Sharks with Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle as they blast their way to Hockeywood taking on Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson. Get warm and toasty and snuggle in.

No games on Christmas Eve or Christmas, but check your local listings for the week leading up to the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 when the New York Rangers travel to Philadelphia.

 

Crosby debut welcoming to Eastern Conference

Four points have Sidney Crosby back in the game. His debut on Long Island stunned  everyone leaving the Islanders blank. Was he that good or were the Islanders in awe of his return? Crosby’s return to the NHL was covered in the media as the celeb he is, humbled, but the pump was no fake. Sid the Kid delivered.

Meanwhile, in Washington the Caps are having Alex problems. When Alex Semin is a healthy scratch and Ovie lacks, where is the love in D.C? Good time to trade Semin in you fantasy league. Cup predictions for the Caps are in need of some serious tweaking.

The Rangers agitator Avery is back and the Blueshirts are tallying wins like the talented team they really are. If you are following the Brad Richards-Olivia Munn hoopla, then go read Puck Daddy who felt it was newsworthy. If you are a Rangers fan then the Avery bug bit you the most, not the love bug.

Now that the Eastern Conference has their guy back, let’s give some applause to the rest of the Penguins who have maintained the top sport despite playing without their top dog. Pittsburgh is rocking knowing that the Cup could be coming to their town if things hold up.

 

New York Skate of Mind

Finally, Rangers fans have their razzmatazz back on Broadway, or do they?  News out of training camp created an impeccable look into the metamorphosis of the New York Rangers. Despite a loss to the New Jersey Devils in preseason, the Rangers have an incredible group of players who will overcome any obstacle, particularly if coach Torts has anything to say about it. So why are they sitting last in the division?

Considered by The Hockey News for the Jack Adams award for best coach, John Tortorella won with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, and he will win again. With the cast of talent in New York, the playoff run will surpass the past few season. Filling in the gaps will bring the Rangers the stature the team, Torts and the fans expect from an Original Six team. Fan-fave Sean Avery was given the boot and possibly took the energy with him. While Torts and Avery clashed, the talent on the team now did surpass Avery’s abilities over the long haul.

The New York Rangers paid a pretty penny to secure dominance in the New York market with the addition of Brad Richards. Richards is excited to be playing in New York, but has he been distracted by the huge crowds eyeing his every move? Are the Rangers able to deliver on their preseason prowess or will they find Richards a bust in the Big Apple? Too soon to tell Rangers fans. Let Ryan Callahan lend his captaincy to the cause. The Rangers looked good and they have the tools to do it, eventually.

How about those Buffalo Sabres? Great team concept with Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr and the entire cast of the Sabres who could become the New York team fans are cheering about on Broadway. Ryan Miller’s blueliners are showing more cohesion and so it was planned to stop that gap effectively showcasing Miller’s abilities. Be true Buffalo fans and allow those bandwagon fans to cheer because when was the last time that happened?

Tavares has brought the New York Islanders the franchise player the Island wanted. Not quite the fisherman of yore, but steering the boat nicely. The return of Evgeni Nabokov looks like a nice fit by the confidence in goal against the Rangers over the weekend. With Ricky D out again, anything can happen in net.

Fisherman logo

Islanders Vintage Logo

The New Jersey Devils are close behind with their confidence in their new coach and new system in play. The nagging issue remains in net with Martin Brodeur an iffy healthy mainstay. Johan Hedberg is no slouch. Hedberg served with the Penguins and is familiar with the demands in this division. Look for the Devils to add players as needed- recent rumor for Kyle Turris.

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins make this division an enticing race. With Jagr’s return and Sidney Crosby slated to return soon, the Pennsylvania teams will lace up and tighten the race for New York’s teams.

Devils Delight in Opening Night

It wasn’t Newark or Hoboken, but it was the home of the Albany Devils, the AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, where the win over the New York Rangers revitalized a new Devils era in the Garden State.

The future is looking bright for the New Jersey Devils as they beat the New York Rangers, 2-1, in preasesaon action. For the first time since 1996, the Devils, who have won three Stanley Cup titles since 1995, did not make the postseason last year. This year the chances of a preseason playoff berth is clearly up for grabs.

Petr Sykora, a Stanley Cup winner for the Devils in 2000, scored the first goal in the Devils-Rangers preseason opener. Sykora, who hasn’t  played in the NHL since the 2009-10 season, was invited to Devils training camp.

New head coach DeBoer’s style was introduced during training camp and encouraged more open ice skating.

Defenseman Andy Greene likes the new direction. The Devils re-signed Andy Greene to a 4-year, $12 million despite his 14-point decline and a minus-23. Greene remains a conisitent puck-moving player on the blue line:

“Obviously, it’s still pretty early, but we all like the type of style that he wants us to play. It’s fast paced and up tempo, and that’s a style I really like. It encourages us to play freer and that’s a plus.”

DeBoer, previously the coach of the Florida Panthers from 2008-2011, led the Panthers to a 30-40-12 record and was dismissed at the end of the season.

Second-year forward Jacob Josefson added,  “I like the high-tempo practices. I like the fast pace. It makes you feel like you’ve been on the ice for a long time, but you really haven’t. Obviously, he has a game plan that he believes in and it’s up to us players to get into it. Things are definitely looking up this year.”

Rookie Adam Larsson has become the new defensive hope of the New Jersey Devils. The 18-year old rookie will have some veteran defenseman assiting in what should make for an intersting year. Returing veteran defenders include:  Henrik Tallinder (16 points, minus-6), Anton Volchenkov (125 hits in 57 games) and Bryce Salvador, who missed the 2010-11 season with an inner ear ailment.

Adam Larsson

Adam Larsson

Placing Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Patrick Elias up front gives the Devils a front line to be reckoned with if the thin blue line can hold the army back. Travis Zajac is predicted to make a mid-season return. And if Andy Larsson does play in Jersey this season, he’ll give Parise a break from the matinee idol hysteria.

Zach Parise

Zach Parise

Turnpike Turnaround for the New Jersey Devils

It’s tricky. Working the numbers, place the bet and watch your pick head into the turn toward the finish line. That’s the race Lou Lamoriello ran with Ilya Kovalchuk. Just over the one-year anniversary of the controversial signing of Ilya Kovalchuk, the rejection of the deal by the NHL and the fines slapped on the hand and wallet of Devils GM/Preident Lou Lamoriello didn’t discourage in his efforts. Lou is hard at work this summer placing bets for the 2011-12 season. The race in the Atlantic Division will be a tough ride with Jagr in Philly, Richards in NYC and the Pens if Crosby return.

Devils fans can breathe a sign of relief at the signing of high-scoring left wing Zach Parise to a one-year-contract worth $6 million. Avoiding arbitration, the Devils secured their franchise player making room under the salary cap by shipping off Brian Rolston. Parise is the race horse the Devils GM had to sign.

Brian Rolston waived his no-trade clause to go to the Islanders, and in turn, the Devils pick up Trent Hunter. The forward spent nine seasons with the Islanders, compiling 99 goals and 229 points in 459 NHL games, but played just 17 games last season, scoring one goal, because of a torn knee ligament. The advantage in all of this is Hunter is a competitive third/fourth liner who is a two-way player, smart defensively and an option on the penalty-kill unit. Hunter is seen as a good fit for the Devils for his “smart, not flashy” style, but has bee plagued with injuries.

Coaching took a turn when Jacques Lamiere voiced he would not return for another season bail out, so the Devils went and grabbed former Florida Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, who was fired in April for failing to take the cats into the postseason. But Lou saw something in the 43-year old coach. The two have been chatting for the past few months. Lamoriello determined DeBoer to be “one of the best young coaches in the business, and his three seasons with the Panthers only made him a better coach.”

Can devildom reach its full potential or suffer in purgatory for the year? Hockey pundits have given New Jersey an average rating with a low playoff seed in the Atlantic Division. Top-rated teams in that division will be tough to race against, notably the New York Rangers who have made some splash this offseason. The Devils are building and the New Jersey fans will continue to believe in Lou because he has their best hockey interests at heart according to his PR staff, a.k.a Lou Lamoriello.