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Wednesday, January 04, 2006 

The Devils Return

Patrick Elias is finally back. If somehow the person who drafted him in your pool gave up on him, and no one was smart enough to pick him up in December, GET HIM NOW! He is, when healthy, a top 10 player in the league, so even with his little "set beck" I'd still expect almost a point a game from him this season. Unfortunately for Devils fans, however, this footnote also came with the Elias return:

To make room for Elias, LW Alexander Mogilny was a healthy scratch

When one foot recovers, do you really have to shoot the other one? When there are guys like Cam Janssen on the team, can you really afford to make this move? It seems to me that this once proud franchise now wouldn't know what to do if they got hit over the head repeatedly by their own helmet. Their offseason signings were more than suspect, and they resulted in even worse endings than I expected. Even outside of the mess that the once best defense in the league has become, they have done nothing to bring in suitable replacements since they lost Sykora and Arnott. Like I predicted before the season, this once perennial favourite is going to struggle in a fight for the last playoff spot, and with Brodeurs aging performance and the Habs surprising start, it looks like they are going to be the odd man out this year. It's a shame when you consider the nucleus that this team once had. At this point it's clearly time to cut losses and rebuild, because there are no Cups left in the swamp. New arena, new team, new money, new hope. Rebuild now before it's too late and interest fades.

Speaking of Brodeur, my attentions turn to the Olympics. Wayne Gretzky's crew slipped up in the selections. Big time. And that's ignoring the exclusions of this years Richard trophy winner Eric Staal, this years Norris trophy winner McCabe, and this years Calder trophy winner Crosby. It's also ignoring the inclusion of Draper, Doan and Regher, who by the way isn't even the best Canadian defenseman on the Flames. The biggest slip up is in net. Namely the assumption the selection committee made before the process of putting Brodeur in net. Does he really deserve it? Based on past performance, sure. No question. Based on this season, it should at least be put somewhat into question.

Brodeur is 23rd among goalies this year in save percentage at .898. He is also 20th in GAA at 2.85, with only 1 shutout to his name, and that didn't come until last night against lowly Florida and their 16 shots on net. This is clearly not the Brodeur of old. Manny Fernandez is first in the league in both goals against average AND save percentage. This is fairly unheard of. Unfortunately he shares his time with another top goaltender in Rolloson. If Fernandez played in any other city he'd be playing 65 games a year and be in the running for the Vezina every year. I only didn't pick him to win the Vezina this year (Hasek was my choice) because of the spilt duty. Prior to missing most of December, Legace had to have also been in consideration for top goaltender honours. I'm also a big fan of what Gigure puts up in Anaheim (can someone explain to me how his name pronunciation on espn.com makes sense - ZHAH suh BAZT yuhn zhee GAIR). As far as the present goes, these are all better options than Brodeur. Luongo is a decent choice, but I would take a couple of them over him as well.

The selection committee has made their choices. There's no going back on that now. But hopefully the coaching staff will give strong consideration to Luongo and even Turco, because living in the past is no way to move forward. The problem is, the other teams in this years Olympics seem even more questionable, so I'm pretty sure that whoever the Canucks go with, they are pretty much guaranteed a medal. And guarantee Gretzky's involvement in Team Canada for eons to come. But to me at least it's clear that they did not do the best job in assembling this team. They did, however, do a good job in securing a few of Wayne’s records, but that's another story for another time.

Stick to coaching, Wayne, you've done an inexplicably remarkable job with an incredibly weak Coyotes team. But that's the extent of what you've helped out with this year.

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  • Kent MacDonald
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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