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Columnist: Del Zotto has to swallow his pride to play

Jul 6, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

Michael Del Zotto Getty Images

It hasn’t been a banner year for Michael Del Zotto and the summer isn’t making things any better for him.

After he fell out of favor with Alain Vigneault in New York, after rough times with John Tortorella there, he was dealt to Nashville for Kevin Klein. Things got worse with the Predators as he wound up being a healthy scratch, GM David Poile admitted he didn’t fit in there and wasn’t given a qualifying offer, thus making him a free agent.

Now we’re six days into free agency and there’s not a sniff at the 24-year-old. Larry Brooks of the New York Post says the problem here is with the player and it may be time for him to start taking the hint.

This can’t be about the dotted line for Del Zotto — not now. For the bottom line is that at the age of 24, Del Zotto is a reclamation project. It is impossible to believe there aren’t needy teams out there that wouldn’t take a flier on him, but at their price, not his; their terms, not his.

This is a summer in which Del Zotto should spend his time surrounded by, and looking at, mirrors. The alarm has sounded.

Del Zotto once put up solid numbers, as recently as 2011-12, but it’s been a trial for him more often than not. If the problem is with him, he’s got a great opportunity to make something of himself as long as he’s willing to go for it.

  1. gbart22 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    Why would you report anything that Larry brooks or the New York post reports? It’s a tabloid and anyone who lives around here knows it. Larry brooks is extremely negative with any team and any player that isn’t a New York ranger.

    • johnstone17 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:08 PM

      As much as most of us don’t like Brooks. This actually makes sense.

  2. gbart22 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    It’s how he gets readers because he’s not all that good a writer and his “sources” are usually way off base.

    • avscup - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      Except he is correct! If he was wrong, Del Z would be signed somewhere already.

  3. clayman61 - Jul 6, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    What is his issue anyway? Lack of commitment? I don’t believe I’ve read it anywhere..

    • paulerhythm - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Maybe he hit his peak in 2012 and unfortunately, his talent doesn’t meet NHL standards, just saying.

    • erdrick68 - Jul 6, 2014 at 11:28 PM

      His biggest problem is a seeming arrogance. He refuses to learn from his mistakes. I have no problem with young players making mistakes, but they should be making new mistakes which indicates they have worked to fix past problems. Del Zotto since 2009 and he still makes the same exact mistakes he made as a rookie. The reason his rookie season was his best was because teams didn’t yet have a detailed enough scouting report to exploit the holes in his game, but even then his play tailed off significantly as the season went on. He still plays the game like he’s in junior and just being more talented matters. Crosby doesn’t dominate just because of talent, he also works incredibly hard every off season to improve a weakness in his game, such as becoming an excellent face off man after the criticism began to mount. MDZ is like Ovechkin, once a book became available for beating him, they failed to adjust. For most of his career Ovie had that one, outside-inside, move and after defensemen started to finally work to prevent it, he had to adjust his play (after his first down season).

  4. bcisleman - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Not a Brooks fan, but he would seem to be right about this. Isles wanted an offensive D to help the PP and have shown a tendency to draft/sign FOJTs—which MDZ very much. When the possibility of signing him was raised after the Preds refused to qualify him, Arthur Staple, the Isles beat writer tweeted that the team had no interest.

    • bcisleman - Jul 6, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      End of 2nd sentence should read “very much is”.

  5. barkar942 - Jul 6, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Michael DelZotto came into the NHL with a lot of promise and potential. I personally believe that he looks at everything through the rose colored glasses of emotion distorting the clear and simple view he really needs to take. Step outside the box and look at yourself in a situation making decisions based on your emotions. You will see confusion and insecurity about the decisions you make. Now figure out how to make the same decision without emotion and make solid black and white decisions. This is how you make decisions with confidence.
    I really feel he took John Tortorella’s coaching style as a personal attack on himself and not about his playing skills. Learn to separate business from personal. If he can do this, he will be able to prosper in the NHL. Otherwise, he will be headed to Europe or the KHL to finish whatever career he can salvage.

    • xaile94 - Jul 6, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      Also, hit the net every so often.

  6. nashernation - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Klein for MDZ was an absolute steal for the Blue Shirts. Have to give Sather his props for that theft..

  7. bleedrangerblue - Jul 6, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    What about the Nash deal?

  8. pj608 - Jul 6, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    I think Del Zotto just tries to hard when he’s playing and then gets emotionally let down when things don’t work for him the way it does for past and present star players on tape. Think he should try inking a contract with anyone and just try calming down in games. Take it 1 step at a time. I see the same thing with Larsson in NJ. He panics at times and he just has to slow things down

  9. remosnozzberri82 - Jul 7, 2014 at 2:48 AM

    You guys are really innocent. He likes the night life. I mean he sniffs the fame.

    • johnstone17 - Jul 7, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      That was one of the reasons Sather was looking to move him.

    • cliffatola - Jul 7, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      I figured there was something to that.

  10. justinpecora50 - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:36 AM

    Somebody will pick him up. I keep thinking Detroit might be where he lands, wherever he goes it won’t be anything near $2.9 mil.

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