Crazy stuff in New Jersey.
Coach Larry Robinson stepped down yesterday. He blamed stress headaches. I’m guessing it had more to do with the stress of having a team that can neither score nor defend.
GM Lou Lamoriello will coach in the meantime, although I suspect he might search for a more offensive-minded coach, for perhaps the first time in his tenure as Devils GM. The Devils don’t have the tools to clamp down like they used to. In fact, watching Colorado’s stifling defense the other night, I realized just how much talent it takes to clog the neutral zone in the new NHL. Without the hooking and clutching, it really does take a lot of speed and strength to run a pseudo-trap. New Jersey is a good twelve players away from that kind of skill-level, so their best bet might just be to grow more offense.
Trying to help that initiative, aging defenseman Vladimir Malakhov retired from the Devils, paving the way for Dan McGillis to be called back up. McGillis is hardly the answer to the Devils’ defensive woes, but getting Malakhov, a defensive liability, off the ice, is a good start.
The New York Post said the Devils might be thinking about unloading Scott Gomez, whom the organization never saw as defense-minded enough (login info.). Now I’m wondering if they’re going to hold onto the talented Gomez, and maybe try and build a team around his speed and playmaking. Obviously, Alexander Mogilny hasn’t been the sniper they thought he would be. But playing under Robinson, Mogilny wasn’t getting sprung often enough to score. So while the Devils don’t have the talent to re-create the defense of their previous teams, with a new, creative coach, they might have some of the pieces to become a more traditional moderate-to-high scoring NHL team. Especially if Patrik Elias can get back to his fighting form sooner rather than later.