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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Devils training camp report

Training camp has started for the Devils. All the players reported for training camp physicals on Thursday morning and they had their first official practice on Friday morning. According to Tom Gulitti, most of the players attended an informal skate at South Mountain Arena as early as Tuesday. New Jersey has details about training camp and presents the new faces in camp. They also have an interview of Brent Sutter with Matt Loughlin. If you want an overview of what to expect this season, John at In Lou We Trust has everything covered. Sam Woo at also offers various reports.

The big news in today's articles is that we are getting a new arena, a new coach, a new 4th line and we might be getting a new captain. Tom Gulitti and Rich Chere both report the first big news of this year's training camp.

Brent Sutter made the announcement on Friday. It came as a surprise as Patrick Elias was named captain by Lou Lamoriello himself. The new coach certainly made a big splash with this news and I think it is a good thing to shake things this way. Patrick Elias said he had no problems with the decision. It doesn't mean that Patrick won't be our captain next year neither. Brent Sutter will name the captain and assitants going through a process with the assistant coaches (Robinson and McLean) and "of course" Lou.

I have to admit I wasn't crazy about Patrick Elias being our captain. Not that I don't like Patrick but I believe the captaincy shouldn't necessarily go to your best player. In case of a slump (that happens to any forwards), the captaincy can put added pressure on you. Patrick didn't have the best season last year and I wouldn't put all the blame on him being the captain. But I think top forwards like Elias, Gionta and younger guys like Parise and Zajac shouldn't even be considered for the captaincy. Sure they can be leaders all they want on and off the ice but the captaincy responsabilty should ideally go to either a defenseman or a second or third liner. At least that's what I think. So who are my candidates for the captaincy. On defense I would go with Colin White and possibly Richard Matvichuk. They both are considered veterans with a lot of experience, with an edge to White because he has been with the team longer. On offense, my choice would be between Brilyn, Langenbrunner and Madden. I really thought Madden would be named the team's captain last season. I like him and I think he is a natural leader on the ice. His role and his attitude make him my choice for the captaincy.

Number Games
If numbers matters, you should know that Karel Rachunek wore Brian Rafalski's old No. 28 and later on Grant Marshall, who is trying to make the team wore Scott Gomez's old No. 23. Back-up goalie Kevin Weekes will be wearing Scott Clemmensen's old number 40. He divided his old number (80) by two, probably like he will his number of games played.

Jamie Langenbrunner didn't practice because of a groin strain that should keep him out for a few days. The New York Post suggests that Langenbrunner might need surgery. This can be a bit alarming since Langenbrunner would be sidelined for a long time should he need surgery. Hopefully he will be fine and the good news is that we have depth this year (unlike last year) even though replacing a guy like Jamie is not the easiest thing.

Brodeur and the rest
Game on has two articles about the Brodeur and Weekes combination. I understand Marty and his will to play but I have to say he needs more rest than he got the past few seasons. I do believe he does because he hasn't been a difference maker in the playoffs the past three seasons. Don't get me wrong, I think he is a tremendous goalie but with the amount of games he played last year and the way he had to carry a team with such a quiet offense, he didn't look fresh. I think a new coach can be a good opportunity to change things and have the back-up (Weekes) goalie start at least 15 games. Hopefully the long trip to start the season won't put us in a hole and force Brodeur to play most of the games early on.

Lines combinations and defense pairings in yesterday's practice
Forwards: Elias-Zubrus-Gionta; Parise-Zajac-Tallackson; Pandolfo-Madden-Asham; Rupp-Brylin-Janssen.
Defense: Vishnevski-Martin; White-Corrente; Matvichuk-Greene; Oduya-Rachunek.
Goalies: Brodeur, Weekes.

Dowd and Rasmussen
Two players who won't return to the Devils this season are Jim Dowd and Erik Rasmussen. With good performances as call-ups last season (Clarkson and Pelley) and new additions, there won't be too many open roster positions for the forwards. Dowd and Rasmussen are the latest victims and will need to find a new team. Dowd has been invited to the Flyers camp and I hope for him he makes the team. It is unfortunate he will be on a rival while he made it clear the only team he wanted to play for was the Devils. Dowd made the team last year, signing a contract after the season started. He provided a reliable performance at a low price when we were still tied to the cap ceiling.

For all of us who listen to the games on the radio, Matt Loughlin will need a new color commentator as Tom Chorske left his position. I didn't get to listen to that many game with Chorske and Matt. I liked John Hennessy and Randy Velischek a lot.

According to some Calgary paper, Jeff Friesen was rumored to be going to Leksand in Sweden. Jeff was one of the best player of our 2003 Championship team and left the team to make some cap room after a disappointing season. Since he left, he suffered many injuries and has not had the same success.

The Devils play their first preseaon game on Monday night in Trenton against Philadelphia.

"What I know is what I know about the Devils". Brent Sutter when asked what he knew about New Jersey (Source Bergen record)

"Our jersey will still be our jersey". Lou Lamoriello when he announced there wouldn't be a press conference to present the new jerseys.

I am sure that these two no-nonsense characters get on well with each other.

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