There have not been any Devils-leaving-New Jersey rumors in a while, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t come back around at some point. And understandably so.
They are, as The Post’s Larry Brooks recently put it, the least-relevant major sports franchise in North America.
The Devils have made the playoffs once in the last 10 seasons despite twice winning recent NHL draft lotteries to land young stars in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. They were 27th in attendance in a 32-team league this past season despite residing in a nice arena that is extremely easy to get to by car or train. And none of the major news organizations in the state or region have a Devils beat reporter given there is so little reader interest in the team.
The smattering of Devils diehards will always be loyal. The organization is just fine with its sizable in-house media team being the only source of information. And you can make money in professional sports without winning. That all said, it’s hard to imagine the franchise’s current track is sustainable without some sort of big event to turn the ship around. And if that does not happen, you have to wonder if at some point, someone will argue it makes more sense to ship the team to Hamilton, Ontario or Kansas City.
Which brings us to the news of the day: The Islanders fired Barry Trotz on Monday in surprise fashion. Certainly Lou Lamoriello will give a candid, thorough explanation of the move sometime soon. But in the meantime, we have to wonder: Do the Devils have it in them to get rid of Lindy Ruff and make an inspired move?
Trotz has raised the Stanley Cup and has won everywhere he’s been. He is also the type of personality that will resonate with fans and make it worth the media’s while to report on the team. Hiring Trotz would give the Devils some much-needed energy and excitement, and it would be a chance to stick it to Lamoriello. It would also make them far more relevant than they have been in a long time. There are ties between Trotz and general manager Tom Fitzgerald. This has to happen, right. Right?
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]