Stafford Back With Devils on a PTO Agreement for Training Camp

Drew Stafford will be back for next season with the Devils. But only if he makes it out of training camp. The 32-year-old right winger today agreed to a professional try out (PTO) with the Devils and has been invited to training camp.

Stafford did not exactly set the world on fire last season with the Devils. He had eight goals and seven assists (15 points) over 59 games in 2017-18. He played in two games of the Devils’ five game loss to Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the playoffs as well.

According to the press release on the matter, the Devils initially signed him to a one-year, one-way contract on August 25, 2017. He was a free agent following this past season.

He has played in a total of 784 games at the NHL level with the Sabres, Jets, Bruins and Devils. The press release notes his career totals as 191 goals and 224 assists for 415 points to go along with 397 penalty minutes.

While some fans might not be happy with this, feeling that Stafford is done as an NHL player, you never know what you are going to get with a PTO. He could conceivably have something left in the tank and last year could have been an aberration. But you take a flyer on someone and if he makes the team, that means he showed management something. Otherwise, he does not make the team and likely retires. We will find out when training camp kicks off next week.

Deb Placey Leaves MSG Networks, Devils Broadcasts

Longtime Devils television host Deb Placey is leaving MSG Networks to work for the National Hockey League.

Placey worked at MSG for 23 years, beginning with the network in 1995. She began with the Islanders and then joined the Devils broadcasts in 2011. Prior to her time at MSG, she worked NHL broadcasts on ESPN2 in the early days of that network.

She will be taking a job with the NHL, presumably with the NHL Network (although I have not heard anything concrete). She had already done some work for the NHL Network, co-hosting NHL Live with EJ Hradek for a time.

Her replacement has not been named yet. The rest of the Devils’ broadcast team of Steve Cangialosi on play-by-play, Ken Daneyko as color analyst and Bryce Salvador as between-the-glass reporter will remain intact.

MSG put out the following statement on Placey leaving the network: “After 23 years of being a fixture on MSG Networks broadcasts, Deb Placey is leaving the network. We would like to thank Deb for her dedication and hard work. She will always be a part of the MSG Networks family. We wish her all the best moving forward with her new opportunity at the National Hockey League.”

Devils Reveal Roster For 2018 Prospects Challenge

The annual mini tournament, which will also include teams fielded by the Sabres, Bruins and Penguins, will take place starting this Friday, September 7. It will take place at the HarborCenter in Buffalo and concludes on Monday, September 10.

The Devils’ press release on the matter gave the roster as follows: 26 players total, including three goalies, eight defensemen and 15 forwards. The forwards are: Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Brett Seney, Blake Speers, John Quenneville, Joey Anderson, Brandon GIgnac, Brandon Baddock, Yegor Sharangovich, Mitch Hoelscher, Fabian Zetterlund, Marian Studenic, John Edwardh, Ryan Schmelzer and Dylan Seitz.

Defensemen include: Josh Jacobs, Ty Smith, Xavier Bernard, Colton White, Jeremey Groleau, Tariq Hammond, Colby Sissons and Jocktan Chainey.

The three goaltenders include Mackenzie Blackwood, Cam Johnson and Akira Schmid.

The Devils’ press release breaks down the roster as having three first round draft picks (Smith, McLeod and Quenneville) and five 2018 Draft picks, including Smith, Sharangovich, Hoelscher and Schmid.

The Devils also noted that three players were signed out of college: Anderson, Johnson and Seney. The other draft classes include 2017 (Zetterlund, Studenic and Chainey), 2016 (Bastian and Gignac) and 2015 (Blackwood, Speers and White).

This pre-camp tournament should give the younger players a little bit more development. Training camp will get underway about a week following.

Somerset Patriots Host “Devils Night” and Devils Reveal Promotional Schedule

The Devils continued their tour of New Jersey minor league baseball parks tonight as the Somerset Patriots played host to “Devils Night” at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

The Patriots, a member of the independent Atlantic League, played host to the Road Warriors, a team without a home who has played the entire 2018 season on the road. The Patriots won 2-0.

On hand was Devils mascot NJ Devil, who threw out a first pitch and participated in some mascot hijinks with Patriots mascots Sparkee, Slider and General Admission.

In addition to the NJ appearance, Devils historical highlights were shown on the video screen and a Devils table with information on tickets and giveaways was set up on the concourse. It was another successful way for the Devils to get their name into the community and help grow the fanbase.

And speaking of promotion, the Devils also today announced their promotional schedule for the 2018-19 season. Some of the highlights include: opening night at The Rock against the Washington Capitals which will feature “Now We Rise” bam-bams, a Fan Festival and the annual Red Carpet Arrival of the team. That game is on Thursday, October 11.

There will be a schedule magnet giveaway on Tuesday, October 16 against the Dallas Stars, as well as other giveaways like Taylor Hall Hart Trophy Poster Night (on Saturday, October 27 against the Florida Panthers) to honor the NHL’s reigning MVP, Martin Brodeur Hall of Fame Poster Night on Tuesday, November 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Brian Boyle Masterton Trophy Poster Night on Monday, December 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Upper Deck hockey cards will be given away on Saturday, March 24 against the Arizona Coyotes.

Some theme nights include the second annual WWE Night on Thursday, October 18 against the Colorado Avalanche which will feature ticket packages, “in-arena theme videos and graphics,” a concourse WWE museum and “Superstar appearances.” Military Appreciation Night is on Saturday, November 17 against the Detroit Red Wings and will feature the Devils warming up in special camo jerseys as well as a military cap giveaway. Hockey Fights Cancer Night is on Friday, November 23 against the New York Islanders. Kids Day will take place on December 29 against the Carolina Hurricanes and will allow kids to take part in activities like making a PA announcement or sitting in the radio booth with play-by-play man Matt Loughlin.

A pair of retro nights will include 80s NIght on Thursday, January 10 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. This will likely be one of the nights the Devils wear their “Heritage Jerseys” and will feature in-arena graphics and music. An 80s themed bobble will also be given away. Then, on Tuesday, February 18 against Pittsburgh, the Devils will present 90s Night. This will be similar to 80s Night in presentation and will also feature a special 90s themed bobble to be given away.

Firefighter Appreciation Night will take place on Saturday, January 12 against the Philadelphia Flyers as the Devils will honor New Jersey firefighters. Then, on Saturday, February 9, the Devils take on the Minnesota Wild on Law Enforcement Appreciation Night which will honor police officers across New Jersey communities.

For the first time, the Devils will “Go Red for Women” on Sunday, February 10 versus Carolina. This night, in conjunction with the American Heart Association and RWJBarnabas Health, will see fans don red to support awareness and help raise “funds for local initiatives which support heart health and the mission of Go Red for Women.”

On Sunday, February 17, the Devils take on the Buffalo Sabres and host a “NJ Hockey Celebration.” This is part of Hockey Weekend Across America and New Jersey youth hockey will be spotlighted throughout the night. Fans in attendance will also receive a pair of Devils socks.

The Devils will once again host Pride Night on Monday, February 25 when they host the Montreal Canadiens. This will be the third season the Devils will host this event, which will raise “awareness and funds for local LGBTQ initiatives.”

Finally, on Saturday, March 30, the Devils will host Fan Appreciation Night against the visiting St. Louis Blues. This is the final regular season Saturday home game and “the Devils will take their in-game promotions and giveaways to the next level to show their appreciation.”

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the Devils will likely be adding more to this schedule as they go along during the season. It is likely that we could be seeing another Ring of Honor inductee this year, as the team took a year off last season due to Patrik Elias’ jersey retirement, so be on the lookout for that. We will try to keep you updated if anything is added right here.

Marty Comes Home as Devils New Executive VP of Business Development

Whelp, I was wrong.

The Devils today announced that all-time great Martin Brodeur will be returning to the organization as the new Executive VP of Business Development.

According to the press release, Marty will report to team President Hugh Weber and “will work across all departments to identify, capitalize and develop on business opportunities for the Devils, Prudential Center and the outlying community.”

Brodeur, 46, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this November, said that it “feels fantastic to be back home here in New Jersey.” Basically he will be leveraging his business connections that he made during his 20-plus years in the New Jersey community to help the Devils branch out with new opportunities. As he said, “I was lucky enough to make connections that I can now use to help the Devils grow, not only in this area but beyond.”

Marty said that he has “been able to work in all facets of the game of hockey and have had a growing interest in the business surrounding the game.” Weber added that “Marty’s addition to our extraordinary collection of business executives driving our efforts will advance our results exponentially… His everyday presence will have a profound effect with our fans, our partners and the community.”

That last part is very important, as many fans were disappointed when Marty left for St. Louis and stayed within that organization. Now it feels as if he is “home,” and can help the Devils grow as an organization. It is very beneficial for both sides and should bear fruit.

Team Managing Partner Josh Harris said that having Marty on board helps build “organizational excellence” and that “Marty is an incredible person and a leader whose success extends far beyond his legendary accomplishments on the ice.” He then went on to mention that Marty truly fits into the winning culture that the Devils are trying to build from the top down.

Managing Partner David Blitzer echoed those sentiments, also stating that Marty, with “(h)is experience, reputation and relationships will be an invaluable resource to the Devils organization.”

General Manager Ray Shero largely took the view of the fans, stating that “(t)oday is a special day for everyone. We are thrilled to have Marty back with the organization. I said last season that it was an exciting time to be a Devils fan and that’s especially true today. Welcome home, Marty!”

And that is the view most fans will take. While growing the team’s business footprint and creating opportunities to market the team are important, having Marty back in the fold is what matters most to the average fan (this one included). Good luck to Marty in his new job and here’s hoping that everything works out for him and the Devils!

Brodeur Leaves Blues Front Office

Devils legend Martin Brodeur has left the St. Louis Blues organization to “pursue new opportunities” according to NHL.com.

Marty had been with St. Louis since 2015. He had left the Devils in 2014. He played the final seven games of his career with the Blues and then moved into their front office after officially retiring from the NHL on January 29, 2015.

He was named a senior advisor to GM Doug Armstrong following his retirement and then was promoted to assistant GM for 2015-16.

Bill Armstrong will succeed him as assistant GM.

Marty had this to say about his time in St. Louis: “I want to thank Tom Stillman, Doug Armstrong, Chris Zimmerman and the Blues organization for giving me the opportunity to continue my playing career and begin my career off the ice in hockey operations. I am looking forward to the next chapter of my career.”

Brodeur, who won three Stanley Cups, four Vezina Trophies and the Calder Trophy as a member of the Devils, as well as becoming the all-time NHL wins and shutouts leader, has been the subject of rumors to be returning to the Devils organization by TheAthletic.com. However, nothing has been confirmed and Brodeur has stated that he wanted to take some time to spend with his family as of now.

My best guess is that he will not end up with the Devils in any position. Marty is serious about working in hockey operations. He will likely end up being hired by a Canadian Hockey League team, cutting his teeth as a GM in the major junior ranks. He could even take a job with a NHL team and work with their AHL or ECHL affiliate. Most likely, a team is not going to hire him this close to the start of the season, but next offseason will have vacancies and Brodeur might just fit a team’s bill.

In my opinion, a return to the Devils at this time would be a lateral move from the Blues. The Devils already have a GM (a very good one too) and there is little opportunity for Marty in New Jersey right now. I could even see him taking a job with the Islanders to become Lou Lamoriello’s “apprentice” and take over there when Lou does decide to hang them up.

That being said, hopefully he does come back into the Devils fold down the line. It would simply have to make sense for Marty’s career and right now there is no room at the inn for him here.

Regardless of what he ends up doing, we all know that Marty will always be a Devil and that does not need to be confirmed by where he is employed. Good luck to Marty wherever he does end up.

Devils, United Airlines Team Up to Give Back to Newark’s St. Philip’s Academy

According to a press release put out by the Devils today, the club will team up with Prudential Center and United Airlines to form the “Give 82” initiative.

Give 82 will encourage employees of the Devils and Prudential Center “to commit 82 hours of service to make a difference throughout the Garden State communities.”

Today, the organizations teamed up with United Airlines (who are the presenting sponsor) to surprise students at the St. Philip’s Academy in Newark with a “new, state-of-the-art outdoor hockey rink.” The press release states that this “further exemplifies the NHL’s commitment of bringing hockey to underserved communities along with giving the children a safe place to play hockey in the city of Newark.”

United Airlines’ logo will appear on the bluelines of the rink.

Miguel Brito, the CEO of Philip’s Academy said: “As everyone knows, outdoor space is scarce in Newark so we are truly thankful to the New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center, and United Airlines for the renovation of our outdoor play area. This gift will impact not only the students of Philip’s Academy, but the entire community that surrounds it. The Devils and Prudential Center ahve been outstanding supporters of Philip’s Academy over the past 18 months and this recent act of generosity is “icing” on the cake!”

Prudential Center and its employees have been assisting the Newark community for some time. The arena’s workers have been involved with “feeding the homeless at St. John’s Soup Kitchen or Goodwill Rescue Mission, visiting local Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA’s and schools or packaging nonperishable goods during the holidays for underserved individuals and families.”

The Give 82 program and the assistance from United Airlines will only strengthen the bonds between the team, the arena and the community. Jeff Scott, Devils Vice President of Community Investments and Grassroots said “(o)ur partnership with United Airlines allows us to further our charitable efforst while growing the game of hockey throughout our underserved communities. We are looking forward to our future projects together, creating lasting memories and making a difference in the lives of many.”

For United Airlines’ part, Jill Kaplan, President, New York/New Jersey, had this to say: “Being a proud partner of Prudential Center and the New Jersey Devils is an exciting and rewarding opportunity for United Airlines as these organizations align to our commitment of supporting our local community and our core values as a company. It is our mission to connect people and unite the world, and this partnership enacts that motto into action.”

United is also a “partner of other leading cultural institutions” in Newark, including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark Museum and Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District.

Binghamton Devils Name New Assistant Coach

The Binghamton Devils have named a new assistant coach to Mark Dennehy’s staff.

Ryan Parent will join the American Hockey League club along with fellow assistant Sergei Brylin to finalize Binghamton’s coaching staff for 2018-19.

Parent, 31-years-old, was a first round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2005, going 18th overall that year according to the Devils’ press release. He played in the NHL over 106 games between 2006-07 and 2010-11 with the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers, the majority with Philly. He totaled one goal and six assists for seven career NHL points. The former blueliner also played in 27 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The AHL was where he made his bones. He played in 251 American League contests with the Philadelphia Phantoms, Manitoba Moose, Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals and Norfolk Admirals between 2006-07 and 2012-13. The press release mentions that he last played in 2015-16 with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

In the AHL, he totaled four goals, 24 assists for 28 points and 261 penalty minutes. He appeared in 31 Calder Cup Playoff contests.

Prior to his pro career, Parent won gold medals at the 2006 and 2007 World Juniors with Canada. The native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan played for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League where he won an OHL championship in 2003-04 according to the press release.

His prior coaching experience comes during his playing career. He was head coach and general manager of the Lloydminster Bobcats of the AJHL in 2012-13 (Ty Smith’s hometown team) and head coach of the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL in 2011-12.

New Jersey assistant GM/Binghamton GM Tom Fitzgerald had this to say about Parent: “Ryan’s playing career will provide invaluable experience as he takes the next step to transition to coaching. He will be able to relate to all the players he will have to coach at this level – draft picks looking to establish themselves, young players looking to learn good habits and players who know what it takes to make it to the NHL.”

Kyle Palmieri to Form the “Kyle Palmieri Foundation”

The Devils and Kyle Palmieri yesterday announced that the right wing and his fiancee, Ashlee Casper, will be launching the Kyle Palmieri Foundation.

According to the official press release, “(t)he mission of the Kyle Palmieri Foundation is to give back to those who put their lives on the line to preserve our freedoms as Americans.”

Kyle had previously started “Squad21” which allowed active military as well as veterans and their families to attend Devils games. Squad21 eventually evolved into this new Foundation, although according to the press release, it will live on as a part of the Foundation.

This new venture will “raise funds for various programs that benefit the military community.”

The Montvale, New Jersey-native had the following to say regarding his new Foundation: “There are endless challenges facing our nation’s military service members and veterans. We hope to help ease some of these challenges by providing support through The Kyle Palmieri Foundation and through our partnerships with NMFA, SWAN, and Vets for Pets. Each of these organizations provides invaluable supports and services, and the Foundation looks to help expand their incredible work. We’re proud to offer our help as a way to say thank you to the brave men and women who are serving and have served our country.”

The Foundation’s efforts began this week, according to the press release, as Palmieri was participating in the Morgan Hoffman Celebrity Pro-Am Charity Golf Outing yesterday and will take part in the Northern Trust Celebrity Pro-Am tomorrow.

The three official military nonprofits that are supported by The Kyle Palmieri Foundation are:

– Squad21

– Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) – which advocates for the individual and collective needs of military women. “They are committed to seeing that all service women receive the opportunities, protections, benefits and respect they deserve.” SWAN helps the nearly 2.5 million women active duty and veteran members of the US military.

– National Military Family Association (NMFA) – which strengthens and protects “the families of the men and women currently serving, retired, wounded or fallen.” It helps families members of service people from all branches of the military get information on benefits “and offers programs that improve their lives.”

– Pets for Vets – which “was created to improve the lives of both Veterans and animals by bringing them together in a thoughtful, caring way. They provide veterans with pets while also giving loving homes to the animals.

Palmieri, of course, has deep roots when it comes to the military. His sister, Taylor and his brother-in-law Stephen currently serve in the National Guard and the US Army, making this a very personal venture for Kyle and the Palmieri family.

Devils to Wear “Heritage Uniforms” in 2018-19

The Devils today revealed their third jersey, but it is not exactly what you would think it is.

Not only is it not a totally new design, it is not even the same throwback that they have been wearing the last decade or so.

Their “Heritage jerseys,” as the team is calling them, are based on the original green, red and white color scheme that the team wore from 1982 to 1992, but it is the white version of those uniforms that the team will be breaking out for four home games this season. The only major difference being that the jersey will be made using the Adidas jersey template that the NHL now uses.

The Devils revealed the uniforms this afternoon via a text from their official app. Included with the app message was a way to sign up for a presale of the jersey when it eventually goes on sale.

I, personally, love this idea. Short of doing a new, unique design, this was one of the best ways they could go. I always thought the light version of the red-and-green “Christmas tree” jerseys were the nicer set. The dark set is nice, but the whites just looked a little bit sharper than the reds. Maybe it is bias since that was the first hockey jersey I ever owned. Either way, head over to the Devils app to sign up for the presale if you are at all interested.