Watching all of the Devils playoff re-runs on the NHL Network, specfically to watch Zach and the impending impact of his departure. I see the loss hitting us hardest in 2 places (thinking playoffs): the penalty kill where he was simply an absolute nightmare to play against as he always was looking to take away the puck and changed how teams attacked us, and his play away from the puck where he always seemed to draw bodies with him along the boards, leaving someone one on one or alone (ala Henrique, or Kovy for a blast). Not easy to replace, but wondering if all these years of being such a blinded Devils fan (I admit it) I put too much stock in his value. There isn't a harder working player in hockey and everybody in the world would want him on their team, but when you watch the early playoff games, the talent differential between him and a Kovalchuck is so blatantly obvious. And if we had the Kovy who played against Florida, we beat the Kings. I'm convinced. He was simply uncoverable before that dreaded back injury. But against LAK, Zach was simply crushed by bigger, stronger D men. He NEEDED Kovy at his best to "be" Zach. I don't think Kovy needs anyone to be "Kovy".
So while I'm bummed to lose one of my favorite Devils of all time, as a hockey fan looking at the Devils through the non tainted eyes of a Devils fan, I see a very good player who IS replaceable, and perhaps with current talent. It's not the gaping hole I felt we had in early July, and there's no reason to think we can't contend once again.
So how does this work anyway with what Zach is doing tomorrow? He sits in his agent's office and GM's come in one by one with offers? Or do they make phone calls? It sounds pretty stupid. I remember when I read about Richards doing this last year thinking "for Richards? really?" and now its Zach. I'm picturing a line of GM's sitting in a waiting room and then the Penguins show up with Mario, Sid, Malkin, loads of cash and some good pastries to smooth it over.
I think it should be like Napoleon Dynamite. After presenting their offers, each team has to put on a little skit. I can just see Crosby and Malkin doing a "Who's on First" bit with Zach whispering "what did he say?" after every word spoken by Malkin.
Sat next to 2 Kings' fans who flew in from LA. Long time suffering fans who knew the sport very well. They even bought game 7 tickets, just in case, and have gone into debt just to get out here to see this. Really felt for them as you can just watch the agony unfold as the game went on. Makes you realize how damn lucky we are to root for a team that has been to the promised land multiple times. Just when the agony hits epic proportions by missing the playoffs and throwing doubt that we'll ever be substantial again, gives us an incredible run like this. Damn I love this team...and glad they've rewarded our loyalty with multiple banners hanging from our rafters. We ARE a fortunate bunch, let's never forget that.