Years ago we got a little buzzed after splitting a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (which we only realized afterwards had an alcohol content of about 76%) and found ourselves enumerating all the reasons we love hockey. Facing the seemingly endless off-season it seemed a good idea to recreate the experience here on IPB, only trading one drunken evening for a whole summer, and one bottle of wine for months of cocktails (today’s selection is the Fernandito: spiced rum, Chambord, orange juice and lime juice) and with a ton of desperation tossed in for good measure. Since we are too lazy to count the days before the season starts, we’re adopting 118 as our target reason number in honor of Section 118, home of the original IPB season tickets at Continental Airlines Arena. Our reasons will likely range from the sublime (playoff overtime marathons) to the ridiculous (Sid Crosby’s Timbits commercial); today’s reason is an obvious, but good one.
The first in our 118-part series: Reasons We Love Hockey:
Never has a team been better matched to its fans than the Devils with us. A winning tradition, an emphasis on team play rather than star power, players more interested in hoisting Cups than hefty wallets, and an organization dedicated to hockey and not entertainment all adds up to a team we can get behind. In the twelve years that we’ve been fans, we’ve seen the Devils win it twice (to add to the one we missed while living empty hockey-less lives) and go to Game 7 of a fourth Final, we’ve seen two Hall-of-Famers and one Devil great sign for less money to stay with the team long-term, we’ve seen players of all skill levels excel within the system, we’ve seen management eschew the temptations of high profile rental players (we’ll just ignore that unfortunate Gilmour Era), and, perhaps most importantly, we’ve seen games in person and on TV presented in such a way, both by the team and the broadcast affiliated with it, that never underestimates our knowledge, passion and dedication to the game. The Devils are, in short, everything we want in a team.
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[Crossposted to HLOG]
Following last summer’s angsting over whether the Devils would re-sign UFA Patty Elias, this summer is looking surprisingly stress-free. Sure Rafalski and Gomez are big names, but this year’s playoffs proved the Devils have plenty of capable young defensmen to fill Raffie’s shoes, and, well, seven years of Gomer have convinced us we can survive without him. As for the rest of the group, half of these guys played in Lowell this year. But let’s take a closer look, UFA by UFA, shall we?
Scott Gomez, C: Gomez had been a distant third to Briere and Drury in the center sweepstakes until he tried to cram an entire contract year into eleven playoff games this year. A tremendously gifted puck carrier, Gomez would be a welcome addition to any team. However, he’s downright craptacular on the face-off, can’t muster a decent shot to save his life, and has never shown any talent or inclination toward playing the other side of the puck. He’s a coaching Goldilocks, bristling under coaches who are too soft on him but also under those who are too hard. He’s one of those players who employs his father as a business consultant, which has led to strangely contentious contract wheelings and dealings, and which could cause tensions with management down the line. Irreverant and fun-loving, Gomer will likely be a fan-favorite on any team he moves to. The Devils will miss his puck-moving abilities for sure, but looking at the numbers, a) he got 40 goal seasons out of two different wingers, but both were in contract years (and Gionta’s dipped considerably lower than that the following season) and b) the Devils had the second-worst offense in the league with Gomer as the top-line center; how much worse can they be without him? (Don’t answer that.) For the amount of money that Gomez is asking ($6 million), he just doesn’t seem to bring enough to the table that would truly benefit the Devils (other than being Pando’s best bud, an honor PandoNation respects highly). And yes, we realize we are in complete and utter denial about this.
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