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Pat Burns Hall of Fame Induction Thread

15 November 2014 - 02:43 AM

Monday is going to be such a special night as an incredible class will be inducted into the HHOF. What will really make it special is that it includes Pat Burns. A lot of anger and disappointment has taken place because of the committee not voting him in before he passed. It's unfortunate and done with, so lets not make this thread about that.


Instead, lets keep it positive. There has been an abundance of amazing articles with stories about Pat. I'll share a whole bunch here, and I expect more to come in the next few days (betting there will be one or two with a Devils angle). 4 NHL coaching stops. 3 Jack Adams Trophy's in his first year with the Canadiens, Leafs, and Bruins. A Stanley Cup with the Devils in his first year in NJ. Pat Burns was one of the greatest ever.


Pierre Lebrun:


A cop before a coach

Burns was a police officer and spent 16 years on the force in Gatineau, Quebec, taking part in dangerous undercover operations in the biker and drug world.

"When he was an undercover cop, they locked him up in Kingston (Ontario) penitentiary to try and bust the drug rings," longtime general manager Cliff Fletcher, who hired Burns to coach the Maple Leafs, told ESPN.com. "He told me he was so scared, the only person that knew he was in there was the warden. If anyone had ever found out about it, he would have ended up dead. But he helped uncover a huge drug ring in prison.''

Those years as a cop would forge Burns' no-nonsense demeanor as a coach.

"He was stern but fair," said Chris Chelios, who played for Burns in Montreal. "He was a great judge of character. You weren't going to fool him or get anything by him. His cop instincts, here's a guy that went undercover in a biker gang and put his life on the line for that; some of those instincts carried over into hockey.''


"Off the ice, he was a great guy," Gilmour said of Burns. "He liked his beers, he hung with us at times. He loved his Harleys. He loved playing guitar. Just a terrific guy.''

Gilmour laughs at one funny memory.

"We always played jokes in the dressing room," Gilmour said. "We were in Minnesota one day, and we had cups on the top of the door, leaning, so that whoever comes in gets drenched. Well, who walks through but Pat. His hair was always combed neatly, perfectly. His hair was down to his nose after getting drenched. We were shocked, almost. But then we all started howling. He said, 'I'll get you back, whoever did this, I'll get you back.'

"Nobody ever said who did it.''

Fletcher remembers a coach who was tight with his core players, an important factor for those Leafs teams that played with such emotion.

"Pat gravitated towards top players. He was smart," Fletcher said. "Wendel, Dave Ellett, Gilmour, Felix Potvin, they'd go biking with him and everything. They were his boys. But the poor guys at the bottom end of it, they were whipping boys; he squeezed every ounce out of them. But it was good; he had success.''


Like he did in previous stops, Burns got close to his top players in New Jersey. This time, it started with the superstar goalie.

"We used to ride motorcycles together," Brodeur said. "He was there the time I bought my first bike. He said, 'Marty, I'm going to follow you home in my car to make sure you get home safely.'''

Like other players before him, Brodeur also got to experience his sense of humor and his temper flare-ups.

"One day we're in Anaheim for a regular-season game," Brodeur said. "We were sitting in the stands together and talking about everything. The night before we got killed, I think in San Jose or L.A. He was in a great mood as we're talking about different things. But then he says, 'Can you go sit in the room?'

"He gets in the room, and I've never seen a coach break so many things. Throwing sticks, you name it. He was so mad. I was just talking to him two seconds before, and he was fine," Brodeur says, chuckling. "He was in a great mood. But for him, the point of snapping in front of everybody was important. I still laugh at that story.''




Doug Gilmour:


I guess a lot of people thought I was a Pat favourite. I hope I was. But if he was unhappy with my play he let me know. There were a few nights when he nailed me to the bench, too. Like, some guys are always going to be a little more creative than others. Pat was fine with that. But he had a rule: In the first two or the last two minutes of a period, never lose the puck at the blue line. I remember this one time I lost the puck at the blue line early in the game, they came down and scored. And I didn’t see the ice again until the next period. He brought me in and said: “How am I going to tell my second- and third- and fourth-line guys that they have to pay the price for stupid mistakes if I treat you differently? You’re the guy they follow.” I understood.


Pat had his own way of doing things. Like at the morning skate on game day, if we weren’t quite going the way he wanted us to, he’d say, “Okay, you guys know what you’re doing, right? You’ve got everybody fooled. You guys think you’re ready, eh? We’ll just see how it goes tonight.” Then of course we’d put pressure on ourselves, go out there and stink out the place in the first period. So he’d come into the dressing room: “I told you so. Now are you going to listen to me?” He was very aware of how he felt we were going to play before the puck even dropped.


Pat did enjoy pulling pranks on players. There was one time in Montreal when he got some fingerprint dust and smeared it all over the headband inside Patrick Roy’s mask at practice. When Roy started sweating, his whole face went blue and stayed that way for three or four days. We were always pulling tricks on each other. I never got tired of putting pin-prick holes in his paper coffee cup. I usually tried to do that before games, when he had his suit on. You know how much care Pat took with the way he looked.




Dan Cagen:


“He had a three-game rule,” Sweeney said. “Veterans got three games where he’ll leave you alone. He won’t berate you and point the finger at you after one, but after two you might hear something. After three, you got the full treatment.

“Then if it was a fourth, you were in the stands.”

Burns could be patient, too. Sweeney missed the end of the 1997-98 season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. He was back on the ice when training camp began in September, but he wasn't fully recovered yet.

“I was thinking about this with [Dennis] Seidenberg,” Sweeney said of the current defenseman who's back from ACL surgery. “I was participating in training camp coming off shoulder surgery. I was there, but I wasn't where I wanted to be. He came up to me, he said, 'We know you're not going to be 100 percent right away. It might take you 10 games. That's a lot of games, but you think you're ready and you're just not.'

“To me, that spoke volumes of a coach, and maybe the outside perception of Pat was that he wouldn't do that. But he had the certain ability to connect and make me feel better.”

Not that the players didn’t benefit from Burns’ bluntness at times.

“Pat’s personality I think was at times overpowering, but I think that took a lot of pressure off his teams,” said Donato, now the coach at Harvard. “In some ways, and I mean this in the most positive way, he handled some situations like Bill Parcells did. He handled a lot of the pressure in the media, and behind closed doors, even though he was very tough, his players appreciated that.”





Paul Hunter


Both Ellett and Gill recall that one of the most important aspects of Burns’ coaching was that no matter how badly a player messed up, he was always afforded another opportunity.

“He treated us as professionals,” said Ellett. “He always gave you a chance to redeem yourself. You might be benched for the last half of the game or the third period, but the next game he’d give you a chance right away.”

Burns not only drove his players hard, he encouraged them to do things off the ice together as a team, to care for one another and for the tradition of the Leafs. Gill said you’d leave a one-on-one session with Burns understanding that you didn’t want to do anything to let your teammates down.

Captain Wendel Clark, more than once the target of Burns’ haranguing, said if a player got lambasted, it brought the team together.

“Pat knew whose buttons to push to get the guys to rally,” he recalled. “If someone was getting crapped on, the other guys didn’t have to say anything but they were all going, ‘He doesn’t deserve that, let’s just pull together and win it for him.’ ”




An article from 2004:


Going through some old Pat Burns threads here, I found this Post article after a bad loss and wanted to share it:


This loss was so galling, the coach questioned the very hearts of his Stanley Cup champs.

"I'm going to have to check their hearts, check their heads, see where they're going," Pat Burns said. "Definitely, it's gut-check time."

The Devils coach teed off on his team after they lost their third in five, this time 4-2 to Pitiful Pitt, among the worst teams in the NHL.

"Unmotivated, undisciplined, uninspired," Burns charged. "Was it preparation? I'll take responsiblity. Was it motivation? I'll take responsibility. What goes on on the ice is not my responsibility. I can't play the game for them. They just weren't ready.

"It's not just tonight."

After questioning the fiber of his champions, Burns went back into the locker room to order all of his players to their stalls to face the press. It was an act that displayed his utter disgust, throwing to the scribes the players this organization goes to such lengths to insulate from the media. He asked the press to question the players pointedly, to discover the ailment so he could prescribe the solution. There were no clear insights forthcoming.


http://www.njdevs.co...&hl=+pat +burns

If the Kurvers for Niedermayer Trade Never Happened

23 October 2014 - 12:25 PM

I could have went super click baity on this one, but chose not to.


Fun read on Grantland on this 'One Deal, One Million Repercussions'



If you know any Maple Leafs fans, you may have noticed that they’ve been even crankier than usual over the past few days. That’s because last week marked the 25th anniversary of one of the worst trades in the history of hockey: the Tom Kurvers deal.


The notorious trade went down on October 16, 1989, and saw New Jersey send Kurvers to Toronto in exchange for a first-round pick in the 1991 draft. Kurvers was a decent enough offensive defenseman, but the Maple Leafs were terrible, and the pick ended up being third overall. The Devils used it to select Scott Niedermayer, and the rest is history.

All of that makes the deal bad enough, but it may have actually been even worse. The Leafs nearly finished dead last in 1990-91, which would have given the Devils the first overall pick. And they would have used that pick on arguably the most heavily hyped prospect the league had ever seen: Eric Lindros, a junior powerhouse who was considered a sure thing to become the next Gretzky or Lemieux.



2014-2015 Lineup Thread

20 October 2014 - 10:40 AM

Since last years was so popular....Once again a thread to discuss practice lines, game-day lineups, scratches, potential call-ups, waivers, etc. Basically a thread to bitch. 


To start it off:


Tom Gulitti ‏@TGfireandice  1m

Devs' lines today: Zubrus-Zajac-Jagr; Cammalleri-Elias-Havlat; Clowe-Henrique-Ryder; Brunner-Gionta-Tootoo; Ruutu-Gomez-Josefson.

30 Thoughts: Devils Edition

08 October 2014 - 12:12 AM

I'm not Elliotte Friedman. This might be the dumbest thing I've ever done, but here it is: The longest post in NJDevs.com In honour of the best hockey column, here are my 30 thoughts - Devils Edition, before the 2014-2015 season. Can't blame anyone if they don't want to read 10 thoughts let alone 30...


30 Thoughts:

  1. Lot of talk this pre-season about the amount of competition up front, but as camp went on, it turned out it was just that, talk. Two guys who had excellent camps, Brunner and Boucher, never really had a good shot at entering the top 9 once Clowe returned. That’s pretty disappointing, and in the end the competition boiled down to see who would be the 4th line energy forward and a battle for an extra forward. That’s a failure by the coaching staff for being so gung-ho about certain spots like Zubrus on the second line and Gionta on the 4th, but also the GM for failing to create much roster flexibility up front.

  1. The combo of Zubrus-Elias-Havlat was clearly a line Deboer had envisioned since the signing of Havlat. Elias and Zubrus have played quite a bit together. To a lesser extent Elias and Havlat have as well. Elias also likes playing with Zubrus, and Deboer has always respected Elias' opinion and thoughts.

Deboer specifically mentioned the chemistry in 2012 of those two along with Sykora. The problem is that was 3 seasons ago. Elias is 38 and Zubrus is 36. I've gone easy on Deboer here, but it absolutely shocks me that Pete would come to camp with that line in his mind and not even try another winger on it. Zubrus, after all, is coming off of a dreadful season that saw him put up 5 goals and 2 assists in the last 41 games.

One those spots that absolutely should have been up for grabs was Zubrus spot, not only in the top 6, but in the top 9.

  1. Different line combinations I have in mind as the season begins that took into account camp play:: Cammalleri-Zajac-Jagr, Clowe-Elias-Havlat, Boucher/Brunner-Henrique-Ryder, Ruutu-Gionta-Zubrus   or  Cammalleri-Zajac-Jagr, Boucher-Elias-Havlat, Clowe-Henrique-Ryder, Ruutu-Zubrus-Tootoo.

  1. You know who had a quiet camp. Tuomo Ruutu (making a hair under $5 million. The Devils are only paying $3.85 million of that. I hated the Ruutu deal the day it happened, but I think I hate it even more today. The deal becomes more unneccessary when Zubrus is still ahead of him in the depth chart. That can all change of course, but it’s kind of odd that he never got a look in the top 9 during camp. Tuomo was certainly going to be bought out in the off-season by the Canes if not traded. Could NJ have signed him for a cheaper contract if that was the case? I could easily see the Devils doing the buying out after this season.

  1. Even though, I don’t like his current spot on the depth chart, I still wanted to note that Danius Zubrus has carved out an excellent NHL career. Few players have had a more unassuming career than Zubrus (1169 GP at 36 years of age). If he’s never been on your team, he’s the kind of guy you go, “Danius Zubrus has been around that long?” That’s what happens when you begin a career at a young age, don’t put up many points, and don’t play a significant role for a very successful NHL franchise.

  1. Only 82 forwards in NHL history have played more games than Zubrus. Yes, the eras have a ton to do with it, but of those 82 only five have averaged less career PPG (Radek Dvorak, Kelly Buchberger, Eric Nesterenko, Todd Marchant, Ron Stewart)

  1. Damon Severson surprised many by making the team. This certainly complicates a position that seemed to be very straightforward a few weeks ago. If all the decision makers felt Severson had a camp as strong as Larsson’s or Gelinas’, I can’t fault that although it makes things a little cumbersome.

  1. From the last practice, it looks like Greene and Severson will be a pairing leaving Larsson and Gelinas jockeying to play with Merrill. There’s been reports that both players were unhappy about being scratched (shocker). If it continues throughout the season, expect one of them to want out sooner than later

  1. You never hope for injuries, but any chance to get all 4 in the lineup, may not be a bad thing at all. Tri mentioned today that Gelinas and Merrill were not even in the top 7 last season, and they ended up playing 60 and 52 games respectively. On the down side, a pretty healthy defensive core in 2013 never sorted out any problems.

  1. Anyone think that if all of the young defenseman acclimate  themselves during the season, Zidlicky could be moved before the season’s end? Just how young will Lou go?

  1. A lot of eyes will be on Deboer early this season. Miss the playoffs or start off slow, and you just might see him fired. Some fans have hoped that he’d be canned after last season and have been wondering why he has gotten a longer leash than past coaches. It’s a fair question, but one that I think I can answer:

  1. Lou might say the goal is to win the Stanley Cup each season, and anything else is a disappointment, but there is a difference between saying it and believing it. As the Devils have missed the playoffs, the last two seasons, I highly doubt Lou thought this team was a Cup contender. If he did, that surely changed as the season went on. That’s a big difference from any other team since 1994 - 2012 when the Devils had a combination of excellent goaltending, HOF defense and a better offensive group of forwards.

  1. Over the last two years, the team has been in a funk scoring wise. They’ve gotten bad goaltending, bad breaks, but there has never been really poor stretches of play. There have been very few stinkers sprinkled in. Ugly final results but no ugly stretches of play like say in 01-02, 05, 09, 10 or 11. Fans have been left saying same old story, but that story never included being outworked and outplayed on a regular basis. The team plays hard and true to the system on almost every night


  1. A few have said that there have been too many excuses for Deboer, and it’s time to put up or shut up. That’s fine. If the team misses the playoffs, Deboer should go, but I’m of the firm belief that Lou should be let go with him if this team misses the playoffs this year.

  1. Do I think it could/would happen? Not really. Ownership would be in a tricky position if it ever felt it had to fire Lou. The average fan doesn’t seem to ever want to blame Lou, and even if they do, would they want owners to go to the drastic measure of firing Lou. If that average fan can connect the dots that the team is struggling due to years of mistakes by Lou and his staff, it’s possible. I’m willing to bet that isn’t the case.

For starters, it would mean the team is doing very poorly and attendance would be free-falling. Firing Lou would probably add insult to injury. Lou is not simply a GM, a President, a CEO. He brought great success and 3 Stanley Cups to fans of NJ. He is as much the face of the franchise as any player ever was. I’m not so sure any coach/executive in sports can say that other than Bill Belichick in NE. The backlash could be too much. Firing Lou would be their biggest obstacle yet from a PR standpoint regardless if it is the right move or not. Being known as the owners who fired Lou? Good luck overcoming that. Early retirement though?

  1. Even if the owners were ready to wave that storm the day they wanted to pull the trigger, who is going to advise them on that decision? Unlike most teams, there isn’t a liaison from Owner to GM. They are new to the sport, so it would be tough for to fire someone who is perceived as an all-time great hockey executive.

  1. Lou’s biggest fault: Their drafts overseen by Conte. They’ve done a good job at drafting defensemen but have been  rather abysmal at drafting any NHL forwards. Since the 1999 NHL draft, the Devils have only drafted 8 forwards with two seasons worth of games: Parise, Zajac, Henrique, Rupp, Janssen, Bergfors, Voros and Halischuk. That’s two 1st round picks, two 4th liners, and two players that didn’t even make it to 200 games before their NHL careers ended.

  1. What does that mean then? Usually it means over reliance on free agency, which basically means overpaying players after their best years. The Clowe that the Devils saw last year, might be him at his best. Mike Cammalleri starts his 5-year contract at 32. Or without any real assets, it means giving up little to take other team’s problems off their hands (Tuomo Ruutu).

  1. Hard to imagine what will happen in 2-3 years from now. What’s the plan to replace Elias and Jagr? Hard to get 60-70 point players in free agency without breaking the bank.

  1. And thank goodness that no other GM was willing to give Jagr a top 6 role other than the Devils (possibly only after Kovalchuk left). Where would the Devils be without him? Jagr’s 2013-2014 season was 6th greatest season points wise in NHL history for a player 40 and over.

  1. From I’m sure this happens all the time files. The Devils escaped a potential disaster in the Kovalchuk trade. Apparently, the deal was held up to the Thrashers insistence that Patrice Cormier was included in the trade. Lou offered other second tier prospects like Nick Palmieri and Adam Henrique. No and no. Cormier it had to be.

  1. Another one? The Leafs wanted a prospect rather than a draft pick when trading Ken Klee at the 2006 deadline. Make your pick Toronto: David Clarkson or Alexander Suglobov? Former Leafs exec Shawn Simpson likes telling that story when explaining why he is no longer in hockey.

  1. Speaking of the Leafs, Brian Burke was vehemently against taking one step back to take two steps forward as GM of the Leafs. He was incredibly aggressive in fixing their horrible forward situation.  

It looks more and more like NJ will have to follow Burke’s strategy and improve their forward core via trade. Not expecting any of their defensemen to fetch JVR like player, and if there is one that could, would Lou pull the trigger? The Devils under Lou have always been about building from the net out.

  1. Which defenseman to deal will probably be the toughest decision for the Devils GM. The one they feel the most comfortable dealing might not be the one to net them much. What is Larsson or Gelinas worth around the league right now? Whatever it is, their value will only suffer if one or the other finds themselves scratched frequently throughout the season.

  1. Another fault of the Devils under Lou: What seems like their non-existent pro-scouting department. Go after an ex-Devil or rely on the advice of Pete Deboer and Jacques Lemaire.

  1. Even if you want to argue that they have knowledgeable pro scouts or enough people around him, Lou doesn’t seem to be acting on their knowledge. I highly doubt there are pro scouts that keeps floating the idea of bringing back Malakhov or Mogilny, Janssen, Rupp, Holik, Arnott, Sykora, Clemmensen (2x) or Gomez to Lou. Those are just the ones that he succeeded in bringing back. Who knows how many other players he failed to bring back. When he finally traded for Arnott, he mentioned that the Devils had tried unsuccessfully to re-acquire him a few times.. It was reported in 2012 and officially confirmed this off-season that the Devils tried to bring in Gomez after the Habs used a compliance buyout on him. It’s his weakness, and it’s getting very stale.

  1. Let’s talk about the full-time employees around him. It’s a little bare, no? There is Conte. There’s his son working with the farm team and the contracts and capologist guy, but no true assistant GMs that work with Lou on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps it is time Lou brought in a former NHL exec or two that has more intimate knowledge of the rest of the league than a few former Devils.


  1. Speaking of former Devils, what’s the end game for Scott Gomez hanging around? If you are not willing to risk losing Josefson or covet his versatility, then I don’t see any spot for Gomez.  Of course you could trade Brunner, but why trade a young(ish) player that had a great camp to make room for old Scott Gomez? I guess if two centers somehow go down for an extended period of time?

  1. Over the last 3 seasons, 62 goalies played at least 40 games. Hedberg and Brodeur ranked 51st and 53rd in save percentage. Cory Schneider, 2nd. Scott Clemmensen, 59th.

  1. I’ll end on a good note: Patrik Elias will most likely become the 81st or 82nd player in NHL history to reach 1000 points. He’ll become just the 30th player to get his first 1000 points all with one team.

The 29 others: Gretzky, Messer, Howe, Yzerman, Lemieux, Jagr, Sakic, Esposito, Bourque, Mikita, Trottier, Kurri, Modano, Lafleur, Savard, Perreault, Delvecchio, Beliveau, Clarke, Bobby Hull, Iginla, Alfredsson, Federko, Lidstrom, Bossy, Taylor, Potvin, H. Richard, Gilbert.


Nice company.

Scott Clemmensen "Wins" The Backup Job

04 October 2014 - 01:33 PM

Was there ever a competition? I always thought he would be the backup, but this wasn't even a competition. If they had such little faith in Kinkaid as a backup, why bring in Clemmensen (arguably the worst goalie in the NHL over the past two seasons), instead of someone who can actually play? Brodeur insurance?


I'd feel more comfortable with them calling Brodeur today than Clemmensen actually. A 37-year-old backup goalie that was never good to begin with. But once again, Lou "knows" Scott. He knows the goalie of 6 seasons ago that had a nice year. What about the one that has been fvcking awful for the past two.