He didn't say anything offending about the organization, most things come from the author of the article. And the author Nicola Berger (yes, the one who very early in the summer said that Brunner appeared to be close to sign with the Devils) is a guy who usually mainly covers Brunners' former swiss club EV Zug. Now he's traveling to the US every once in a while and does NHL coverage as well. He's said to be quite close to Brunner and obviously himself feels bad for the guy and puts lot of the blame on the organization.
Let me try a basic translation, by no means perfect, some parts make it hard for a non-professional to transfer the right meaning to english :
Lost in the world of the conformists
by Nicola Berger, as published by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on nov 12, 2013, freely translated, by no means perfect by starfish
Damien Brunners' creativity isn't asked in NJs system, he's got two points in the last eleven matches. "Sometimes", Brunner says, "I feel like they don't really know what I'm best at here."
Nowhere in the NHL the players' everyday life is as restricted as in Newark, NJ, the big and aging city at the doorway to New York where the decay of the old, strong and shiny United States has long begun. With the New Jersey Devils Lou Lamoriello has it written on his banners to keep the order up, at least in his organization. Lamoriello, 71, bald patch, is said to be one of the most respected managers in all of us pro sports. In 26 years at the top of the New Jersey Devils he's won the Stanley Cup three times.
Discipline above everything
Lamoriello also appears to know what he does when he makes it part of the players' contracts that beards are only allowed during the playoffs. That they are not allowed to actively use Twitter or Facebook. That the hair may maximally reach their ears. That even on free days during traveling, suits have to be worn. Or that numbers with 30 may only be chosen in exceptional cases. If there were such disciplinary rules in Switzerland, there probably would be open riot. But Lamoriello calmly states:"In this organization things are done the way I say they are. If you don't like it, just leave."
Damien Brunner doesn't want to leave. He has only just arrived: On the 24th of September the 27-year old Swiss national player has signed with the Devils for two years and five million dollar. It was the conciliatory end of a frustrating summer for him, when he had to wait long to finally get an NHL offer. Ever since, Brunner tries to find his way in this cosmos of rules and orders. You can't say that he managed to do that especially well so far.
However, the orders off ice are only one thing and they're not the ones Brunner is struggling with. He's struggling with the tactical requirements put on him by coach Pete de Boer. In De Boers' system the Devils play the way they've always played during the Lamoriello era: Defense first, result-oriented, solid hockey - That's how a favorable description might sound like. Others would joke that the Devils played just as unattractive as the surroundings of Newark look like.
45-year old Pete De Boer instructs his players to play the puck along the boards into the offensive zone and then dig it out from there. There are no dribblings, no combinations, no one man rushes - and thus also no happy Damien Brunner.
The Zurich born is standing in the locker room at Prudential Center. It is Sunday, he's wearing his suit, a cap and has his car keys in his hand. No five minutes have passed since the 5:0 over Nashville. Brunner jokes: "I don't even have to take a shower after such a game." That is, not because the opponent was that weak, but because Brunner himself was a non factor in the game. He was put on the ice for 11 minutes and 24 seconds, which is nothing for someone who had twice as much ice time on good evenings with EV Zug. "Sometimes", Brunner says, "I feel like they don't really know what I'm capable of around here." [comment by starfish: the meaning of the german sentence lies somewhere between this translation and the one you find at the start of the article]
You can't really tell whether that is a fact or not, but in any case it does seem like the Devils have little interest to change anything about these circumstances. Brunner is everything what this team isn't; as an artist he's struggling among a group in which the system stands above all. He's an individualist in a world of conformists. And his stats show it: In 16 games for the Devils he has 4 goals and three assists, and after a promising start he's gone without a point for eleven matches. Brunner says:"I'm somewhat lost right now. I got zero confidence. Last time I played that bad I was 22 years old and played for the Kloten Flyers."[starfish:another swiss national league organization]
That was a long time ago, Brunner played at stadion Schluefweg on the fourth line and his career seemed to be about to come to an end. Ever since, however, the goalgetters' star has been raising, without interruptions for five years. Now he's again in a situation when things don't go the way he'd like them to and has to find a way to cope with it. "If this really was my best hockey, I can just as well simply throw my skates away and do something else." But he still hasn't lost the certainty that everything will turn out to the better eventually.
Detroit is the past
After all he has already shown that he's of NHL caliber, in the shortened season when he played along superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and didn't leave a bad impression next to the two. Does he regret having declined Detroits' offer for two years and five million in June? The more so as he did fit in better with their system? Brunner gives a clear answer: "No." This decision was made and is a thing of the past. He'd rather do something positive in the present. If only New Jersey let him.
Edited by Sik02gt, 12 November 2013 - 09:58 AM.