Without outside interest, the options for Patrik Elias are either suit up for the Devils once again or retire. It’s starting to look like the later may happen.The man they call “Patty” is one of the most beloved New Jersey Devils of all time. When you build a Mount Rushmore of the New Jersey Devils, his name is always in consideration.
Patty is a two time Stanley Cup champion, the all time points leader in franchise history, and is always a class act on and off the ice. But Elias appears to be losing the battle against father time.
He was drafted 51st overall in the 1994 Entry Draft. He then made the roster full time in 1997. Also, Elias one the Devils that have gotten within five points of 100, which no Devil has ever reached. Elias is also a member of the exclusive 1,000 point club. The question of Elias being a hall of famer isn’t a question of if, but when.
The Czech native is coming off a knee surgery which limited him to sixteen games last season. In his 20-year career, New Jersey has been the home he has ever known. Elias is currently a free agent. He spoke to Devils general manager Ray Shero just before Christmas and told him how he felt physically and that returning to play would be more about overcoming the mental aspects of playing.
If he is given another shot by the Devils, which shouldn’t happen for the record, he brings a lethal shot to the lineup. In addition to his veteran presence, he has the ability to mentor younger players, like he has in the past.
Perhaps, a role that Elias is destined for, is scouting. He is idolized in his native Czech Republic and while not on the scale of Jaromir Jagr, he is still a household name. He could try and use that light and in an attempt to bring players to Newark.
Elias has had many stand out moments in his career. One such example is his game winning goal against the Flyers in the 2000 Conference Finals. Another is after a Devils victory, on St. Patrick’s Day, while wearing the retro jerseys, he came out in a green leprechaun hat. Elias also tied John MacLean for the franchise lead in points on the same night that Martin Brodeur became the all time wins leaders for goalies.
His desire to play is admirable but he isn’t the player he used to be. Elias will, unquestionably, have a roll in the front office when he hangs up the skates. Or, perhaps maybe he will go the Ken Daneyko route and join the media aspect of Devils hockey. What isn’t a mystery is that the number 26, which has been with Elias since 1996, will be hanging from the rafters next to his former teammates.
At least Devils fans can rest easy about one thing. They will not have to sit through another play try and acquire former glory with a team not named the New Jersey Devils.