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Lamoriello: We’re here to win Cup, not just make playoffs

Apr 11, 2014, 10:12 AM EDT

Lou Lamoriello AP

The New Jersey Devils used to be a juggernaut, but this will be the third time in four seasons that they have fallen short of the playoffs. The one exception was when they went to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

Of course, they then lost to the Los Angeles Kings, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello still used it as a pretext to look on the bright side.

“I’ll look at a positive. If you can say one out of every four years you’d be in the Stanley Cup Finals, would you take it?” Lamoriello asked, per the Star-Ledger. “Approach it from a positive standpoint. We’re here to win the Stanley Cup. We’re here to win, not to just get into the playoffs.

“You can (take) that answer any way you want about three out of four years (missing) the playoffs. If it means missing the playoffs to do certain things to win the Stanley Cup, then that’s what it means. That’s mediocrity just getting to the playoffs.”

The problem is that’s the argument a franchise uses when they’re embracing a rebuilding process where the team is willing to endure losing seasons in the hope of building a squad with a chance to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup.

That’s not what the Devils have been doing though. They do have some young talent like forward Adam Henrique, but the core of this team are players in or past their prime. They lost Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in back-to-back years and responded over the summer by signing 31-year-old Ryane Clowe, 34-year-old Michael Ryder, and 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr. Do those sound like the guys you go after when you’re focused on the future rather than present?

Of course, there’s a reason why they would try to win now even after losing two of their best offensive players: Because the Devils didn’t have a draft pick in 2014. They lost it as part of their punishment for their original attempt to sign Kovalchuk to a long-term deal. The NHL has since partially reversed that decision so that the Devils will get the 30th overall pick. That’s better, but doesn’t compensate them for their shortcomings this season.

Maybe Lamoriello’s statement is an indication of what’s to come for the Devils though. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t fully embrace a rebuilding process ahead of a season where they didn’t control their first round pick. Going forward, they won’t have that issue.

  1. 7mantel - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    950003cups ;Thought for sure you would have jumped on this story !

  2. martysbetter - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    The forward core is past their prime but our defense is young, and our goalie is in his prime.

    Adam Larsson (21), Eric Gelinas (22), Jon Merrill (22) are all going to be fantastic blue liners for years to come and that group is lead by Andy Greene (31) – yes Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov are both old but they will be replaced at contracts end by guys like Damon Severson (WHL – 61 pts in 64 games) and Steve Santini (freshman standout at BC).

    The Devils aren’t going anywhere, Deboer gets a lot of hate but he took a team devoid of much talent and his system produced wins against teams like LA, Anaheim, St Louis, Pittsburgh and Boston.

    They went after Ryder, Jagr and Clowe because those were the guys available, who else would you go after?

    • martysbetter - Apr 11, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Oh yeah and let me know how that “tank for high picks and rebuild” strategy is working for Edmonton? How about Florida? Calgary? Buffalo?

      Not every team gets lucky and winds up with generational talent like Pittsburgh and Chicago..

    • c9castine - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      its a 82 game season i wouldnt take too much solace in the fact that you beat some of those teams. teams like buffalo and florida also posted wins against some of the leagues best doesnt really mean much.

      you have a couple decent defensive players that are young yes but all in all its a pretty mediocre group. you cant be looking to replace your aging captain and defensive stalwart with two guys who have never suited up before. it doesnt quite work like that, your going to need a lot more solid depth back there.

      the offense was literally carried by Jagr. thats not good. you cant resign him, just doesnt make sense. even if he scores 60 points gotta move on from that…

      and thats the whole point. he can say sometimes you have to miss the playoffs to get better, but i dont see how the future is any bright for the devils based on actions taken this year other than they found a pretty solid replacement for Brodeur.

    • hockey412 - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      It’s understood why they went after the guys in the off season. You’re right, that’s who was available. But when the trade deadline came around, in my opinion they should have been sellers. Hell it sounded like Marty wanted out even. The core on offense is aged, no pick (at that time), and there were assets they could have dealt.

      I certainly wouldn’t have gotten rid of Loktionov for another veteran. It was a gutsy gamble, but I think most people weren’t banking on them to make the playoffs. Granted a lot of these guys have multi-year contracts, but I don’t get Lou’s comments about doing things to win the cup, I haven’t seen that.

    • thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      You could make a much better case for Larsson being a bust than you can he’ll be fantastic. Plus he’s already at his RFA contract.

      • martysbetter - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        Lol dude Larsson is 21 – people were saying Victor Hedman was a bust too and take a look at his stats this year. He’s a defensemen its going to take time for him to make an impact.

      • thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        you might be right, but he can’t stay healthy, and when he is healthy he’s often healthy scratching or in the AHL.

        Flipping it around, why do you think he’s going to be fantastic? What have you seen other than knowing he was drafted 4th overall?

  3. 950003cups - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Sorry I’m late:

    So, as ridiculous as it sounds. I agree with the old man. That was a team that was designed to wreak havoc in the postseason. It’s not an everyday team. They stink in the shootout as proof to Lou’s theory.

    With that being said. Let’s see what he can do this off season. This team desperately needs another Kovalchuk.

  4. 950003cups - Apr 11, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Also I think you can count out Cory Schneider. He wants nothing to do with this team.

  5. thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    “We’re here to win the Cup. Not just make the playoffs”

    Bulls**t Lou. Here’s what the Devils are actually here to do.

    1) Cater to Marty’s every whim and feeling.

    Despite giving him $9M over 2 years when his recent five-year history (outside of a great half-season in 2012) indicated he was on an inexorable decline and nobody else would pay him near that, we’ve had to listen to him whine and make public his imaginary thoughts about teams wanting to trade for him every week. It will be forgotten very quickly but you’d think Marty would just be happy he’s making WAY above market for a sub-standard backup ability in goal at this point.

    After Marty shops himself around to discover his value, I’m still expecting the Devils to give him like 2.5M to be the league’s most worthless (and malcontented) backup next year, making Schneider’s life miserable.

    2) Giving big money to our old declining players out of loyalty.

    Elias hasn’t been an elite player in this league for years, and he was already 37 (last summer), but sure let’s give him a 3 year contract for $16.5M. Actually this is the most defensible old-man contract we gave out because at least Patty is our all-time best forward and our last skating connection to the cups. Devils fans could be fine with overpaying our legend.

    Giving another clearly declining and injured 35 year old player like Dainius Zubrus 3.1M a year until he’s 38 years old? That’s awful. You kill teams with sentimental BS moves like that. Someone else was giving Zubrus that money? Plus he magnifies the problems on an already slow team.

    Then there’s the most unpopular captain in Devils history, Bryce Salvador. $9.5M over 3 years two summers ago to a 36-year old who never did anything spectacular in all his younger years here on the basis of a (admittedly terrific) 3-week stretch of play in the 2012 playoffs run was insanity. To declare him the team’s leader when every fan would have been just as happy to have him off the team knowing the defensive talent we have coming up in the system was completely nuts. That money could have been used on a competent forward (maybe one like Zach Parise).

    3) I’d say right around here is where we’re interested in winning a cup, but…

    4) Rebranding and cross-selling is also a very close 4th.

    The new hedge fund owners like to get rid of our You Suck goal celebration song because it’s vulgar for families, but they love pumping up their new business partners like Party Poker, a family-friendly gambling company.

    • 950003cups - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      That last part you copied from me at F&I!! I’ve been saying for months. God forbid you take your kid to a game in 2014 and he hears the word SUCK! But it’s ok for him to walk out out of there a degenerate gambling addict. Keep spreading the gospel! I want my YOU SUCK song back!!! It was good luck.

      • thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        Ha dude I didn’t copy you, I haven’t read the comments at TG since free agency over the summer. I go to the games and get all the same stupid promotional emails though. Just put together the same thought I guess.

  6. nj666 - Apr 11, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    This article makes it seem like the team picked up guys like ryder and clowe to replace kovalchuk even though he left after those players were picked up. And the fools who are blaming the goaltending for this season are morons.

    • thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Morons? Seems harsh.

      The goaltending was inconsistent at best, and in shootouts it was mostly dreadful.

      • 950003cups - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        Cory was horrible in the shootouts. We’d score zero and he’d block zero. Teamwork!!

  7. mendy12 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Take a look at the last seven years, other than the finals rum(got vey lucky with the Florida draw in first round), all there has been are either not qualified or one and done. So its really a seven to 8 year cycle he should be looking at. Bleacher report has them listed at bottom of up and coming talent. Bottom line, he was crazy not to give up the lot first rounder when they went to finals (Matteau Pick) and now they have lost their position as an early selector. If Schneider leaves as an UFA after the next year, he will have really struck out. Look for new owners to push him up to honorary position of President and bring in an alumni (Daneyko type) to be GM. Deboer is a keeper, Lou has lost it in the post lock-out game

    • thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      how can you possibly say he was crazy not to give up the first rounder after the Devils were granted a first rounder back this year and therefore Lou’s method resulted in NO lost first-rounders.

      • mendy12 - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        He drafted second to last that year. If he gave up that pick they would be drafting where they finish this year. The league gave back the pick this year ad but placed them 30th in selecting

        Which do you think is worse

      • thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        yes but then they wouldn’t have Matteau. who knows what they would have this year.

    • thecheeman - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      and how can you say they were lucky playing Florida with the finals run? First they had over 100 points that year. Second they dismantled another 100+ point team in the Flyers in the next round, then they took down the #1 seed Rangers in 6.

      That was a very good team when Marty played well. the other years suck but that season wasn’t hardly built on luck.

      • 950003cups - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        Cheeman: that year was almost another one and done. We were down 3 games to 2. Won game 6 in OT and game 7 in 2OT with Marty making a superb scramble in the first few minutes when the team was asleep and john Madden got off 3 shots from the crease!! Yes, that was lucky to get out of the first round. I knew if they could ever get out of R1 they’re gonna be lethal. Same if they beat Carolina in 09. Devils were by no means dominant in that entire series. Take the flyers. We dropped the first game in OT. Second game they squeezed by with a Larsson goal late. Then they got to Bryzgalov. Game three…. Went to OT and we caught them on a bad change. Then they took over because of terrible goaltending. Now let’s look at the rangers. We were shutout 2 of the first three games. Game 4 was a major turning point. Game five we almost blew xUse Marty made 2 boneheaded mistakes. Game 6 went to OT and the rangers have had it by that point going through two 7 game series.

        It was luck! We almost lost in round one and in the ECF.

  8. flyboystransport - Apr 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Jersey always stayed a cup contender for 2 reasons 1) brodeur in his prime covered up any mistakes and 2) any time an important player left via free agency there was always an adequate replacement. Losing 2 top notch scorers like parise and kovalchuk and not replacing them hurt. Brodeur hasnt been top notch for a while

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