A Big Week in the Books for the Devils

I was away for the last week, what happened? A lot, apparently. Let’s do this chronologically, shall we?

On Friday, the 11th, Ryane Clowe announced his retirement. After a ten year NHL career spent with the Sharks, Rangers and Devils, concussions caught up to the tough St. John’s, Newfoundland native. The Devils will honor the remaining three years on his contract. Doctors had advised that Clowe not return to hockey. Clowe thanked the Devils and Lou Lamoriello and Ray Shero for the way the team has treated him since he arrived as a free agent here two seasons ago. Good luck to Ryane Clowe.

Starting on Saturday the 12th, the Devils’ younger players participated in a Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. The Devils dropped the first game to Buffalo, with Sabres’ star-to-be Jack Eichel notching an assist and Alexandre Goulet and John Quenneville scoring for the Devils. Quenneville’s goal was a power play goal and assisted on by Reece Scarlett. The Devils fell 6-2 to the Buffalo youngsters.

That tournament continued the next day, September 13, when Devils rookies took on Boston, losing 4-3 in overtime. Matt Lorito scored (with assists to Pavel Zacha and Blake Coleman) and Joseph Blandisi scored two goals and John Quenneville had two assists.

One negative to come out of the Prospects Challenge series was that Reid Boucher was injured in the game versus the Sabres. The injury was diagnosed as a concussion and Boucher will remain under the observation of the Devils’ medical staff. Coming on the heels of the Ryane Clowe retirement announcement, this is, of course, very scary. But with all of the new research done in the area of concussions and other brain injuries, he has a better chance to recover and be back on the ice once he is ready.

On September 15, MSG Networks announced the Devils’ 2015-16 television schedule. MSG, MSG+ or MSG+2 will televise 81 of the Devils’ 82 game schedule (one game – a January 10, 2016 contest at Minnesota – will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network). They also announced that the broadcast team of Steve Cangialosi (play-by-play), Ken Daneyko (color commentator), Deb Placey (studio host and reporter) and John MacLean (studio analyst) will remain in place. Stan Fischler will work with the team “for select home games” according to the press release.

Some player moves occurred on September 17. The Devils signed forward Jiri Tlusty to a one year deal worth $800,000. Tlusty has played for the Hurricanes and Jets and had a career high of 23 goals and 38 points in 48 games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. The team also announced that former Shark and Islander, Tyler Kennedy and former Ranger and Jet, Lee Stempniak will be attending training camp on professional tryout offers.

On September 18, the Devils released a statement on the health of Patrik Elias, who has been dealing with a right knee injury. Ray Shero said that “He will continue to work off ice with our training staff and skate on his own prior to joining the team for formal on-ice workouts.” They also updated the status of Reid Boucher, with head coach John Hynes saying “things look like they’re progressing the right way” and that although you cannot always tell with injuries of this nature, “he has taken a step forward.”

On the 19th, practice and a scrimmage were open to fans, as we continue to see changes under the new regime. In the Lou Lamoriello days, there was no way training camp would be open to the public. So, while I, along with many fans, hated to see Lou leave the team, it is nice to have events like this to help get the fans more in touch with the team. By most accounts, the day was a success and I, for one, hope we see a lot more things in this vein in the future.

The week wrapped up on September 20 with the Devils opening their preseason schedule against the Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Although the Devils fell, 2-0, the game was a spirited affair and exactly what you would want to see from guys trying to make the NHL roster.

It was a big week indeed for the New Jersey Devils and one that will hopefully set the course for the season to come. Like the offseason as a whole, there was a lot of change. With only about two weeks to go until the regular season begins, we will start to see how those changes will play out.