With the departure of long-time New Jersey Devils figure Lou Lamoriello to Toronto on Wednesday, the time to rebuild is now
By Patrick Comia
It felt like the Berlin Wall being torn down all over again on Thursday. Lou Lamoriello caught the hockey world by surprise when he decided to leave the Devils organization to become general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The decision may have been one of the best things for the team. Reports of Lamoriello’s previous hardline with players may have worn out its welcome. And now, he’s gone and the last brick of the old regime has been removed.
Devils management may have just done that by saying goodbye to the past with Lamoriello’s resignation.
Under Ray Shero, it seems he is starting to put his early touches on the team. The first move was to re-sign defenseman Adam Larsson. Management has faith in the 22-year old that he can become the next good defenseman.
— NHL (@NHL) July 26, 2015
Larsson has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay Lightning’s defensive stalwart Victor Hedman. However, that doesn’t seem fair to the young man. He should carve out his own identity, one which the team can rally behind. Much like how teams feared playing against Scott Stevens, Larsson has that in front of him. And, it helps that he is playing in the same back yard, as the legendary Devils great. Larsson is still finding his game, but getting there. Last season, he set career highs in goals (3), assists (21), and points (24) in 65 games. Granted, it’s nothing to bat an eye at. However, he is only 22. He has the skills to breakout this season. And with the team committing to him long-term, Larsson just has to worry about his play on the ice and making those around him better. To go along with Larsson, Shero was smart in re-signing Eric Gelinas for another two years. He gives the team a strong offensive presence on the left side. His 6’4, 215lbs frame gives them muscle and another feared player opposing teams must contend with.
But, it’s been his offensive abilities that have gain him notoriety. Here’s what hockeysfuture.com had to say:
[su_heading size=”18″ align=”left”]Gelinas is blessed with a tantalizing size/skill combination. There is still a little bit of rawness to his game, much of which can be traced to the fact that he is a converted forward. A strong skating, mobile defenseman, Gelinas loves to lead the rush up the ice and involve himself in the play offensively. He also has a bomb of a slap-shot[/su_heading]
I look for Gelinas and Larsson to have breakout seasons for the Devils.
Another move by Shero was bringing in a familiar face. Tom Fitzgerald jumps over to the Devils organization, after resigning from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
— New Jersey Devils (@NHLDevils) July 24, 2015
He takes over as the assistant general manager to Shero, and should make personnel decisions and management decisions easier to contend with now that the two are reunited. Before leaving after the 2014 season, Fitzgerald served under Shero for seven seasons, winning a Stanley Cup championship in 2009.
With no desire to hire a team president to replace Lou Lamoriello, this will be Ray Shero’s team next season.