Tag Archives: Zach Parise

Let’s Talk…..

The heat is on. Enter the Collective Bargaining Agreement to shake up your summer. The same waiting game on the CBA is exactly what was experienced by New Jersey Devils fans as captain Zach Parise’s fate was out of their hands. Let’s hope the hands holding the CBA’s fate ends in a positive outcome.

This summer Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Alex Semin and Shane Doan will decide what to do with their 2012-13 season, depending on if there is a season. With the continual rise of hockey’s popularity, this lockout would change the momentum of the entire game, the NHL and its players. Fans are holding their breath.

The snubbing of New Jersey by Zach Parise was a shock. It shouldn’t have been. Parise voiced his displeasure over the course of several seasons. The Devils were never seen as contenders without Parise. Now, without Parise, the team rebuilds with alum Scott Stevens returning as an assistant coach. Fans had faith that Parise would return….supposedly, he was a fan of the Shore. Career moves are nothing personal in the NHL, but those moves are taken personally by the fans.

Shane Doan’s fate in Phoenix is another conundrum. Doan has taken that community and ran with it. Doan and his family have been supporters of charitable organizations in the desert for some time. The impact of a Doan loss could cause a ripple effect on the deal to keep the team in Glendale. Fans are loyal but moody on attending games. Very few fans wait after morning skates to get a glimpse of their favorite ‘Yote. Doan may be contemplating the move for a last push on his career since the Coyotes did remarkably well in the playoffs.

Shane Doan after Morning Skate in Glendale (HPWerner)

Bobby Ryan, Alex Semin and Rick Nash just want to move on and feel appreciated. Semin needs a boost to his game and a new team may solve the problem. Ryan isn’t seen as a valuable asset as he once was in Anaheim, so off he goes to some lucky team (Let’s Go Rangers). Ryan is fresh, young and has the skill for a team to build upon.

And who can blame Rick Nash for wanting a change of venue in Columbus? Nash is an island in Columbus. Unfortunately, he’s the face of the Jackets and his departure will be felt heavily. GM Howson can’t replace Nash with another big name, rather a few newbies who will take time to grow. With a rejected trade offer from the Detroit Red Wings, it’s apparently clear that Howson doesn’t want to deal Nash to division rivals or western rivals. The San Jose Sharks, who are also in the Nash lottery, probably won’t land him either.

The CBA talks now coincide with TV deals and those logistics. Hockey writers shiver when the lockout is mentioned. It is debatable whether the strength of the current NHL will withstand the blow and recover. Let the GM’s do the talking until they’re blue in the face. This summer, patience is the new sunblock. Don’t get burned is the name of the game.

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Relax, it’s Summer…Let the GMs do the Work

Hockey fanatics everywhere can’t let go just yet. Too many deals, trades and speculations are in works that leave the hockey community a little uneasy. The NHL Entry Draft, the July 1 free agent scurry, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement looming have descended upon backyard barbeques and the beach.

Relax, enjoy the summer and let the GMS, agents and players worry about the outlook for the 2012-13 season.

If you are a New York Rangers fan, then you have plenty to talk about as the Rick Nash acquisition conjures up “what could’ve been and what could be” talk. Scoring is needed for New York to move past their demons, but at what cost? Fans may have to bid adieu to Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan, rookie Chris Kreider and Michael Del Zotto if they want the big name to save the day. Get ready to rock New York, because the shift is coming. New York has too many solid players and potential to go unnoticed.

In Detroit, it feels like when Steve Yzerman left the organization. with the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, Hockeytown is without another legend. A new arena and a new captain will recharge the Wings for years to come. The Red Wings will always be a constant influence in the hockey community, but now will have to rebuild mentally and physically.

If any fans are breathing a sigh of relief, it’s the Los Angeles Kings fans who are sitting at the beach. Congrats to a job well done. The Kings have been proactive in bringing their story and talent to the forefront. GM Dean Lombardi turned a dream into a reality. Jonathan Quick as MVP brought home the contributions of the goaltender back in vogue.

Dreams in New Jersey are still alive. Next up for GM Lou Lamoriello is to secure Zach Parise for another Cup run, if Parise isn’t snatched away. Parise has registered for many as a better deal than Rick Nash. As an unrestricted fee agent this summer, Parise will be able to pick his destination.

And then there is Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf who are in the mix. Around, around, nobody knows, where any one of these will go. Keep your hockey news source close at hand on the boat, at the barbeque, at the beach or at the ballpark. This summer will be a hot one.

Kings-Devils Set for Stanley Cup Showdown

It’s quite unexpected, but expected to become a legendary matchup. The Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils have punched their ticket to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. Very few anticipated these two teams would be good, let alone great. Very few foretold these two cities would gain hockey elite status. Few doubt that this will be a runaway series for either team. Welcome to the thinking fan’s style of hockey.

The Los Angeles Kings barely made it into the playoffs coming in at the No. 8 seed. Representing a new generation and geographical era of beach-leagues, the Kings have given Southern California exactly what they knew they had in their midst. Billboards lined the Hollywood Hills, Kings jerseys were sported on Rodeo Drive and talk of rising stars became household names. LaLa Land is riding the wave of success.

The Kings railed through the Stanley Cup Playoffs on a mission. Only taking one hit to the Phoenix Coyotes, the Kings momentum is not a streak rather a mantra. There are so many factors that will give the Kings the edge in this series, but the strength of this team is their versatility, confidence and creativity.

Captain Dustin Brown has been an underrated player for years. Brown is the epitome of the quiet leader and workhorse. He isn’t the grandstander expecting to be the leading scorer on the team. He shares the victory equally and rallies behind the skilled talent assembled on the ice. Brown is both versatile and veracious. He can hit a goal from any angle and hit an opponent with every angle. The captain drew the most penalties in the league this season, yet won’t waste a scoring chance bantering with an opponent. Brown is the freight train you didn’t see coming.

Brown’s line with  Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams have combined for 42 points in 14 games and a plus-32. They’ve produced four shorthanded goals and three game-winning goals. In the playoffs, expect the Kings to dazzle. This line has scored the first goal of the game five times, which sets the tone for the each game in the series.

Los Angeles has a sturdy offense, but their netminder is unstoppable. Vezina finalist Jonathan Quick is the remaining finalist still standing. Though he’s hit some rough patches, Quick led the league with 10 shutouts, finished second with a 1.95 goals-against average, plus added a .929 save percentage (5th overall). Quick can take down Marty Brodeur. He’s really the secret to their success. The goalie dominated in the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs ousting the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks.

New Jersey has rebounded from terrible times. Coming in at the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, no one saw this team surviving into the playoffs. After beating the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, the Devils are the new studs in the stable. Headed by General Manager Lou Lamoriello, the Devils are experiencing a renaissance. This is great news for Devils fans, Newark and New Jersey. Controversy surrounding the team’s bankruptcy has been prominent. Lamoriello’s acquisition of forward Ilya Kovalchuk spurred a battle with the NHL costing the team a draft pick and hefty fines. Who’s looking good now? The New Jersey Devils SB Nation blog  In Lou We Trust exemplifies all the the Devils represent. Lou has stood behind his team and the city of Newark. Though many doubted his vision, Lou has proven his vision was genius.

Captain quandaries plagued the Devils early in the season. It had been rumored that star forward Zach Parise was looking for a way out. Kovalchuk vs. Parise became the question as the season progressed. Parise won in large part to appease his level of commitment and experience with New Jersey. As the matinee-idol, Parise is the chosen one to become the future of this franchise.

New Jersey is the New Jersey Devils. Hard work, mental toughness, resilience, and serving up the honest play will make New Jersey a devilish opponent for Hockeywood. Brodeur and Quick will ignite the veteran-rookie debate as the goaltender has achieved significant status in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

Expect the series to last seven games. Los Angeles will take home the Stanley Cup.

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.

Rafalski, Miller Torque Team USA

No one expected Team USA to be at the top of their group, nor be a medal contender, but the Cinderella team are one step closer to the ultimate Vancouver souvenir.  In a shocking upset, Team USA reclaimed some hockey pride by beating the Canadian team on home ice.   Team USA’s youth has sparked the adventurous spirit of what the American team want to showcase. Though the average age of Team USA is 26.6, lack of experience and youth has proven to be a mute argument.  With such amazing performances by Zach Parise who had two goals in the match-up with Switzerland, or the tenacious puck play of Dustin Brown, the sheer mettle of taking on the powerhouse Canada and breaking the bank to top Group A has stunned hockey fans globally.

But the true heart of any hockey team can be found in leadership from between the pipes and on the blue line.  The Canadians knew that a behemoth of a goaltender could revive their team, and it did. Canada has been quick to regroup after the loss to the Americans, replacing goaltender Martin Brodeur with Canucks captain Roberto Luongo.

Not only is Team USA’s goaltender Ryan Miller one of the biggest contributors to the team’s success, but also this is his Olympic debut.  At the age of 29, Miller has the youth, but he brings wisdom and wile to the competition.

Ryan Miller has been stellar and faced quick shots at a furious pace.  Miller faced 45 shots by the Canadians and held 42. Facing 19 shots from the Swiss, Miller took hold and delivered the shutout.  His level headed play was evident at his alma mater, Michigan State, where the Michigan native set an NCAA record with 26 career shutouts.  In 2001, Miller’s talent was showcased with the leading winning percentage, save percentage (.950) goal against average and a record 10 shootouts over all other players in the country, thus snagging the coveted college hockey Hobey Baker Award.  Ryan took the Goaltender of the Year for all three seasons at Michigan State and was the CCHA’s overall MVP twice.

Growing up in East Lansing, Michigan, you’d think Ryan would look at exciting options to play away from home, but not the case.  Michiganders love their hockey and Ryan’s family is no exception.  Brother Drew now plays for the Detroit Red Wings, plus ten members of his family, including his grandfather, all played for the Michigan State Spartans.  In 1990 his cousin, Kip Miller also won the Hobey Baker and was the first Spartan to be honored.  Hockey royalty perhaps, but Ryan never lets his prestigious genetics blur his ability to reign supreme in net.

Michigan is also the home to a defenseman who has rallied the troops, Brian Rafalski. At age 36, Rafalski is the oldest player on the team providing leadership yet so much more.  With four goals and four assists, Detroit Red Wings’ Brian Rafalski leads in scoring for Team USA.  In a mesmerizing match-up between Canada and the USA, Rafalski’s blue line demeanor broke through to score two goals and nab an assist.  The unexpected fury came and this American boy was not going to lose.

Rafalski, the veteran Olympian, was on hand during the 2002 games in Salt Lake City winning a silver medal, as well as playing at the 2006 games in Torino.  Vancouver marks his third Olympic appearance.  His presence may have led the charge in Team USA’s success.  Rafalski has always been a quiet player, not ostentatious with his style, but a classic American citizen and family man.  He is also no stranger to fighting for what he wants, as he struggled to find his place in the world of hockey.

Rafalski, born in Dearborn, Michigan, took his hockey talent to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he played for four years.  His senior year, Brian netted 45 points in 43 games.  The WCHA named Rafalski to their First All-Star Team, plus he was named to the NCAA West All-Star Team, as well as the WCHA Defenseman of the Year in 1995.

Though he has come back to his birth state and found a home with the Detroit Red Wings, it wasn’t always that easy for Brian.  He struggled throughout the years being bounced from teams, countries but always playing as a winner.  He won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008.  Despite a discouraging season this year with the Detroit Red Wings, Rafalski is having a good year with 4 goals and 25 assists.  Look for more firepower from this defenseman when he returns from the Vancouver no matter the outcome.

If Team USA is victorious, then American hockey will gain some respect and prove to be a formidable training ground for future players.  If Team USA can’t clinch the prize, then the players can say they fought the good fight and proved American hockey is for real.   No one can overlook the exceptional effort of goaltender Ryan Miller and defenseman Brian Rafalski leading the charge to battle for Gold.