Yes…it’s finally over. This is not a false alarm or report but Ilya Kovalchuk has finally signed with a team and that team happens to be the New Jersey Devils. I grew apathetic over the Kovalchuk dilemma that’s dragged on for nearly three weeks now some time ago but am just glad to see it’s finally come to an end. With the contract details yet to be officially released, I’m assuming the deal will put the Devils well over the cap, requiring them to move some players to get back under.
I’m glad Kovy decided to stay with the Devils, although I believe he’d have signed elsewhere before July 1st ended, had his options been broader. Nonetheless, his long term commitment to New Jersey has convinced me he likes what he sees here and thinks he can help return this team to their winning ways and deep playoff runs. He could have signed a one or two-year deal or played in Russia for a year if he had zero desire to return to New Jersey but didn’t. On paper, the Devils are obviously a dangerously deep team but how it pans out remains to be seen. Unlike the fanatics, I won’t commit to the equation that Kovalchuk= Cup just yet. What Kovalchuk re-signing means and brings, the Devil’s cap situation, and all that like is for another write up as I’ve written this to pass one message some Devils fans may have forgotten amidst today’s hype.
Zach Parise is still the main man in New Jersey.
Kovalchuk is arguably a better than Parise and you can build a franchise around either player, but assuming both players are still with the organization in five years, Zach Parise’s name will be the first that comes to mind if someone asked me to name an ideal New Jersey Devil. When Parise broke into the NHL in 2005, he had a promising rookie campaign, despite tallying mediocre numbers of fourteen goals and thirty-two points. He hasn’t scored less than thirty goals since the 2006-2007 season and established himself as a proven offensive force, worthy of consideration amongst the game’s elite players. Numbers aside, Parise symbolizes a new age in New Jersey Devils hockey and a passing of the torch from one franchise face (Brodeur) to the next, just as Scott Stevens did to Marty when he called it a career. When I look at the Devil’s roster, I can’t think of any other player more suitable and prepared to symbolically represent the New Jersey Devils, everything the organization represents, and what they seek out of their players than Zach Parise.
A homegrown star, Parise continues the tradition that started with players such as John MacLean and Ken Daneyko, and continued over the years as fans were privileged to see the likes of Kirk Muller, Scott Niedermayer, Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, and Petr Sykora just to name a few, make their mark on Devil’s history and turn the organization from a bottom feeder to an annual contender. While Parise’s yet to have a Stanley Cup ring, he has plenty of years left in him, most of which will hopefully be played in Newark. I also want to say Parise is one of the few “complete players” currently in the NHL, the kind that comes around once every ten plus years or so. He’s someone that gives no less than a full effort every night, scores, sets up, and is effective in all three zones, not to mention has shown flashes of leadership.
Right now I want to say captain Jamie Langenbrunner’s future with the team is uncertain and with a year remaining on the thirty-five year-old’s contract, the New Jersey Devil’s captaincy could be up for grabs for the third time since 2005. The hiring of John MacLean appears to have stabilized the Devil’s coaching situation for now so with that out of the way and assuming Langenbrunner will be or is already exiled from the Devil’s long term plans, I can’t think of anyone more suitable to inherit the captaincy than Parise. I want to say his stint with Team USA this year has indicated he can play effectively when it counts and in high pressure situations…if the rest of his team plays with at least half as much heart as he does. Moving forward, I think Parise also represents two vital things for Devils fans to believe in: The Devils will continue their tradition of annual contention and continual success in different forms and ways after the conclusion of all-time great Martin Brodeur’s career, and they have someone to look upon to spearhead that success as the team’s faces, whose roots go back to the fan entitled “glory days” fade and are replaced by newer younger faces set on achieving the same goals as their predecessors.
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Written by Mike Luciano