In a trade many did not see coming, the New Jersey Devils reacquired center Jason Arnott in a trade with the Nashville Predators. The Devils dealt right wing Matt Halischuk and a second round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Jason Arnott is considered by many to be one of the greatest New Jersey Devils players of all time. He is the man who clinched the 2000 Stanley Cup with a goal against the Dallas Stars in double overtime, which brought home the second Stanley Cup in franchise history (Seen in the clip below). Arnott was a clutch player as a Devil and he always seemed to come up with the big goal.
Arnott had 97 goals and 124 assists as a Devil, totaling for 221 points. He is also remembered for being on one the most talented lines in Devils history, the “A-Line”. The “A-Line” consisted of Jason Arnott alongside left wing Patrik Elias and right wing Petr Sykora. The line was exciting and played a major role in the Devils great success in the early 2000’s.
With all that being said, it is fair to say that Devils fans everywhere have a great amount of respect for the guy and they will continue to respect him because of everything he has done for the franchise. However, this was not a very good move on Lou Lamoriello’s part.
The Devils did need a second line center and they acquired a pretty good one today. A good 34 year old center. In my previous article maybe I should have been more specific and said they needed a talented and youthful second line center.
This move only adds another older player to the Devils roster and they are slowly becoming one of the oldest teams in the entire league.
I never thought that these words would be coming out of my mouth, but Lou Lamoriello is slowly losing it. For some reason he believes that by bringing back old Devil greats, this will help return the team to the glory days. What he fails to realize is that this is not the case.
Would you like to see some evidence? Take a look at how Brian Rolston has played since his return to the Devils. He has put up terrible numbers the past two seasons and has not exceeded more than 37 points. Again he too, is an aging once great Devil.
If that’s not evidence enough, lets take a look at Bobby Holik’s return to the Devils. He struggled greatly and was far from the player he once was. He put up 9 points in 62 games and eventually went on to become a healthy scratch towards the end of the season and for most of the short post-season.
Re-returns do not work out well at all. The evidence is there but Lou continues to ignore it. It is almost like he does not understand that to win in this new NHL, it usually takes having a young team. Look at the past two Stanley Cup winning teams. The Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins were two predominantly youthful teams. Why can’t Lou get the hint?
Not only have youthful teams been successful, but the whole idea of going out and getting players from the glory days has been done before. Greg Caggiano, writer for “From New York to San Franciso“, published an article yesterday about the Arnott signing and he made an excellent point comparing what the Devils are doing now compared to the New York Rangers in the late 90’s.
“This series of moves seems eerily similar to Neil Smith in during the tail-end of his tenure with the Rangers in the late 90′s. When nothing else was working, he resorted to bringing back the 1994 Cup heroes and former Oilers teammates of Mark Messier, who were then way past their prime. It worked a little bit, but fizzled out after a short while.” (You can read the rest of the article here)
Last season, he traded away a great young player by the name of Niclas Bergfors for a half a season of Ilya Kovalchuk. I mean everyone knows he is not going to resign in New Jersey and the whole season changed once they brought him in. He is a selfish player and it changed the way the Devils played.
The only good thing Lou has done lately is hire John MacLean as the head coach. Even that is going to take some time to see how he will be able to perform at this level.
Arnott was a great player and yes he has done so much for the franchise and was part of the reason they had as much success as they did. Unfortunately, Arnott’s best days are behind him and he likely will only have 30 or so points this season.
He is a great leader and a high character guy, but the Devils did not need to add another aging play to their roster. Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, Bryce Salvadore, Colin White, Brian Rolston, Rob Niedermayer, Jay Pandolfo, and Mike Mottau are all in their mid-thirties. Which is once again evidence that this team is not moving in the right direction. When a majority of your players are old it is usually not a very good thing.
Do not get me wrong. I am a big Jason Arnott fan and I will always be grateful to him for what he did here in New Jersey years ago. However, that time has passed and is now over. Now he is probably going to ruin the way he went out as a Devil, by not being anywhere near the type of player he was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The Devils traded him to Dallas in 2002 and brought in their current captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who has been excellent with the Devils and brought in a new generation of Devils hockey.
Jason Arnott will always be a Devil’s legend, but the move to bring him back was not a very good move. Arnott makes 4.5 million and the Devils should be spending this type of money on youthful players instead of bringing back players from the glory days.
Lamoriello will see soon enough that this is not the way to bring the Devils back to their winning ways. Unfortunately, it appears that this team is not moving in the direction they need to be moving in for the team to be successful.
If the off-season has more moves like this (meaning another resigning like Scott Niedermayer or Petr Sykora), I would not be surprised at all if the Devils have a similar result to this year’s season and other previous seasons; yet another early exit from the playoffs.