I continue to be fascinated by the implosion of the New Jersey Devils.
It’s not fair to lay the failures of an injury-ridden team at the feet of one player, but Ilya Kovalchuk, he of the 15-year, $100 million contract, has just 10 points on the season, with only four goals.
Claude Giroux has almost as many short-handed goals.
Devils coach John MacLean has a lot of stuff he needs to fix, so he’s starting with the big things, mainly Kovalchuk’s goal production. Or lack thereof.
Apparently no one told MacLean the fact that someone is in a contract year doesn’t show up on video. It’s kind of like vampirism.
While MacLean is looking at tape, he might also want to check out BACK TO THE FUTURE, TIME BANDITS, 12 MONKEYS, or perhaps the complete series of VOYAGERS!. Because only those time travel tales provide any kind of blueprint for the Devils to get out of this funk.
Watching the often listless, disengaged play of the team, it seems like certain players might be upset at the attention and dollars Kovalchuk has attracted. Making things even worse, Kovalchuk isn’t even proving to be remotely worth the money.
Although luckily he has another 14 years to prove everyone wrong.
I’m not sure how much interest there’ll be in a 38-year-old goalie who’s already had a few injury issues this season. Brodeur is great — even at 80% efficacy — but I can’t imagine a Cup-contending team would surrender part of their present and part of their future for him. Of course, should Mike Milbury return to the NHL management ranks, all bets are off.
The reason so many people, myself included, are taking so much pleasure in the Kovalchuk-led struggles of the Devils, is that pretty much everyone saw this coming. Kovalchuk’s summer Hamlet impression showed him to be a player seemingly interested in a huge contract more than winning or playing for a specific team.
Many fans are enjoying watching the Devils flatline because it proves they were right. But watching how the Devils seem to have lost their collective jump, I’m wondering how many of them had or have serious concerns about Kovalchuk and his role in the organization and are subconsciously protesting with apathetic play.
So MacLean is smart to try and figure a way to get Kovalchuk going. But I’m not sure there’s a real solution.
Or rather, I’m not sure there’s a real solution that doesn’t involve a DeLorean.