Problem is, the Devils played the trap and a team concept from 94 to 05 was to be able to compete with other teams who were loaded with stars due to being more financially well off. This served them well in the clutch and grab era, but not so much in the post-lockout era. Looking at all the teams that won the cup in the 90's, I'd have to admit just going through the rosters the 95 Devils were the least talented team to win the cup. They won because of the trap and the trap worked because they worked as a team. Also having a young Brodeur, streaking Lemieux and steady Stevens also helped. In this day and age, a team has to have a couple of bona-fide stars to keep up and Kovy fits in that mold. If he at least buys into the concept of trying to do less since he has more support here than in Atlanta, then he should do at least fairly well here.
So far as raw numbers, in the first two years of Lemaire's first stint ('93-94, 94-95), the Devils fared pretty well in goals scored. I'm not a nuts and bolts hockey guy, but it seems to me that when only one team on the ice is playing the trap, which is a system that is based just as much on counter-attack as it is on defense, it can do pretty well offensively. It's when both teams play the trap is when the goal total really starts to suffer. (There was a saying in the late 90s that "all teams play the trap.") That was the story from '97 to '99. Partly because Lemaire was gone, but also because of players like Niedermeyer, Arnott, Skora, Elias reaching their prime, and with the addition of Mogilny, the team did well offensively, in factleading the league in goals in 2000-2001.
And you don't necessarily need bona-fide stars to win the Cup, even today. (It certainly helps, but it's not the end all be all). Look at the Carolina/Edmonton finals series in 2006. Not too many superstars on those teams. At most maybe Pronger and Stahl count, but that's about all I can think of off the top of my head. Or you can look at Washington that has arguably the most superstar laden team in the league, yet playoff success, for the most part, has alluded them.
It's not a one-sized fits all approach that translates into success. The most you can say is that it's really more about balance than anything else. That's why the good GMs are the ones that can accurately assess where a team needs to improve from season to season and getting the right personnel for the job (add into the equation good cap management and drafting). Since the lockout, I think Lou has done fairly well on the first part, but has been at best below average on the second part (see, Rolston, Malakhov, Mogilny, Zubrus, Leamire). Whether it was Lou or Vanderbeek, or a combination of the two, I think the team will have righted the ship this year.
Edited by Daniel, 23 July 2010 - 01:28 PM.
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