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The Lou Files Part 1: The Not So Good


devilsrule33
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Going to try and recap everything about Lou's tenure as GM. Yes, I'm starting with some negatives, but the good will follow soon. I only became a Devils fan in 96, so there's only so much I feel confident writing about. If you have some input from way back in the day, feel free to add them. I made an effort to include only things that Lou had full control of. For now, here are 3 times when Lou was at his worst.

 

Malakhov, Mogilny, and McGillis

Lou sat, waited and did little as Scott Niedermayer pondered where he'd play hockey next. I'll never fault him for that, but once Scott chose his brother (or was it the SoCal life), Lou grabbed anything in sight and ran. Within hours of the Niedermayer signing, the Devils had announced deals for Brian Rafalski, Vladimir Malakhov, and Dan McGillis. As fans were trying to process life without both Stevens and Niedermayer, the contracts information starting coming in: a staggering 2 years and $7.2 million for Malakhov -- a player that seemed disinterested and contemplating retirement; 2 years and $4.4 million for Dan McGillis. Then two weeks later, Lamoriello had the Devils way over the cap by bringing back another ex-Devil, Mogilny for 2 years and $7 million. This was 36-year-old Alex Mogilny was coming off an 8-goal season with the Leafs (in 37 games) and two hip-surgeries with whispers of his possible retirement.

 

Looking back on these deals, it was pretty funny/sad how hard Lamoriello was selling these moves. He was in serious used-car salesman mode for a team looking like they'd be starting the "New NHL" without two franchise pillars. First it was stating that the Devils defense was stronger then when the season ended in '04, or letting everyone know that he hadn't seen Larry Robinson this excited before and that Malakhov was back where he thrived. As for Mogilny, it was raving about his game-breaking goalscoring ability and exceptional speed.

 

You can debate how bad each contract was (I'd say two were horrendous), but when all three of your new free agent signings are off the team and NHL careers over by January, something went seriously wrong. Two year contracts shouldn't be cap killers, but when you are unable to sign your team's leading scorer, your best defenseman and a backup goalie as the calendar flips to October because of two 35+ year players combined $7.1m cap hit, something went drastically wrong. When you get relief because one of the "game-breaking scorer"s who had two hip surgeries previously to signing with the Devils...ends up having chronic hip failure, something went very....well actually that turned out really well. And when you are forced to flip a 1st round pick for cap relief, I mean you get it by now. That's all sorts of awful.

August '06 to opening day of the 06-07 season was an unmitigated disaster (one with a divison title and a 15-game win streak!), but thanks to Lou using every CBA loophole, the residual damage was the loss of a 1st round pick, and ill will that carried over up until punishment time for the Kovalchuk contract. Cap mismanagement and the preference to go after ex-Devils, even if it meant overpaying past their prime players...this was Lou truly at his very worst.

 

Martin out, Volchenkov in

I don't know what it was about Paul Martin. Perhaps Devils fans were just spoiled from watching incredible defenseman for over a decade and expectations were out of whack, but Martin never seemed to get the respect he deserved say like Andy Greene gets today from fans. He was just a really good defenseman for a number of years in New Jersey.

 

That lack of respect may have extended to the GM chair because when Martin was set to become a free agent after the 09-10 season, the Devils interest seemed lukewarm. Paul said it was tough to leave New Jersey, but in the end the Devils had not made an offer until he had was ready to accept the Penguins offer. The then 29-year-old accepted their 5-year $25 million contract.

 

Why did the Devils not even offer Martin a deal before free agency? Well with limited cap space, and the need to leave some room for Ilya Kovalchuk, Lamoriello probably had the Flyers series a little too fresh in his mind with Chris Pronger completely eliminating the Devils best forwards. Lou's off-season priority was that the Devils become "harder to play against in our own zone, and make it more difficult on opposing forwards." It sure seemed like Lou had Anton Volchenkov in mind, and probably knew that signing both would be impossible unless Martin took a significant discount to stay in NJ.  The Devils also seemed a little too high on prospects Alex Urbom or Matt Taormina at this point.

 

As the first day of free agency played out, the Devils let Martin walk, signed Henri Tallinder as a cheaper replacement to a 4-year $13.4 million deal, and then went all in on Anton Volchenkov. If this switch took place a few years later, the hockey world would have gone mad. The Devils blew away all other teams with a 6yr $24.5 million contract that Volchenkov reluctantly took at the urging of the Senators management. 

 

While most Devils fans expected that either Salvador or White would be bought out, Lamoriello said that Volchenkov would actually complement the two of them. There was no way of seeing around the number of years of the deal. When asked about the length of contract and playing that style, Lamoriello quipped, "that's what they said about Scott Stevens." Sadly, from the first few games, it was clear Volchenkov was no longer the destructive force that shutdown the Devils top line 3 years prior in the '07 playoffs. While there were a few glimpses here and there, they weren't getting what they had hoped for in year one of a very long contract.

 

Regardless if Volchenkov played better as a Devil, the sad part was their was a clear disconnect between Lou's thoughts on what the team needed, and what the actual team needed from watching the playoffs vs the Flyers. The Devils needed to get more mobile on the back end. The priority should have been Martin, especially after just trading away Oduya. Rather Lou was doubling down on a big immobile group that already included Salvador, White and Fraser. Lamoriello was chasing a Scott Stevens type that wasn't out there when the Devils really could have used another Paul Martin.

 

Brian Rolston x2
This is a two-parts: We'll start with the obvious one: The Brian Rolston signing in the 2008 off-season was all sorts of terrible. The ex-Devil had Lamoriello chomping at the bit for free agency to begin. With a reported 17 teams after him, it was Lamoriello that gave him the extra year that few teams would give a 35-year-old, along with the dollars, and NTC.  Brian Rolston was back with the Devils for 4 years and $20 million. While the "Cowboys" in Tampa Bay were doing all sorts of crazy things, even they stopped short of giving Rolston 4yrs or even $5 million on a 3-yr deal when they traded for his rights just before free agency began. Never a good sign...

Even though Lamoriello declared that age was of no concern when it came to Rolston, the contract was doomed from the start as expectations were never going to be met. Unfortunately age looked to be a concern from day 1, and pretty much anything and everything  went wrong from weird power play configuration and personnel with him on it, having him play at center, a position that he hadn't played the previous 3 seasons, and then suffering a high ankle sprain that took him out of action for a few months.

But those were just minor details. Rolston didn't look like a player struggling or just wasn't getting the bounces. He simply looked disinterested most of the time in New Jersey, devoid of any effort. Not even being reunited with his coach during his best years changed much for him. It took Rolston being embarrassed as he passed through re-entry waivers for him to show a pulse. That was after he, laughably, called himself the scapegoat for the team's troubles. Some of this is unfair to Lou, but when you sign 35-year-old forwards to big 4yr deals, not a lot of good will come. For the Devils, there was no good.
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The second part is the trade that ended Brian Rolston's career as a Devil initially. I'm predicting this one will have people disagreeing with me, but dealing Brian Rolston for Claude Lemieux a month into the 99-00 season was Lou once again looking to the past. Yes, the Devils won the Cup, but I'm not ready to credit an early November trade for Claude Lemieux as a stroke of genius or a key factor in their Cup run.  If you feel your team is missing a certain something to go deep in the playoffs, why make a deal like this just a month into the season. And why deal a 26-year-old forward almost straight up for a 34-year-old.

 

Rolston would go onto to play 8 productive seasons before the Devils came back calling with a huge 4-yr contract. Claude Lemieux's useful days were pretty much over by the end of the 2000 season. The Devils sold too low on Rolston the first time, and then bought way too high afterwards. They ended up for paying for all the years that they missed out on.

 

Honourable Mention: The Ryane Clowe contract, The signing of both Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg to 2-yr deals at ages 40 and 39 respectively, almost everything to with allowing Brent Sutter did him around for a few years.

Edited by devilsrule33
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Ugh, this is the second thread that just doesn't seem to be based in much.  You don't need to write fan fiction about how if we kept Parise and Kovy that we would still miss the playoffs just because you created it that way.  And we don't need to see you revise history.  The M's are irrefutable.  We had a championship team and he gambled poorly.  But Martin?  You're blaming Martin on Lou?!  He broke his arm in a contract and Olympic year.  He had a setback in his recovery and blamed the Devils for it.  He was never going to sign here because of that.  And the Rolston one was iffy.  He was coming off a 30+ goal season when Lou signed him.  A lot of people on here were surprised and excited to get one of the top free agents that year.  He flamed out and that's not surprising because of his age but it's not like everyone expected him to suck and Lou gave out that contract.  But if you could only come up with this for the bad, I can't wait to relive all the great things Lou did that you're going to write about next.

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I think you are remembering things differently for Martin. The injury was a sore spot, but by no means a deal breaker. He was not against continuing with the Devils. Lamoriello wanting to double down on a big and slow defense was my reason for that move. Going back and reading the articles, Lou did not offer a contract with Martin before free agency, but used that time to try and explain the Devils way, where players take discounts to be part of something special, etc. The goal seemed to be signing Anton, and then hoping Martin would come back for less. 

 

What I did not add was the contracts left the Devils in a serious cap space jam when the season started. They had to play short-handed to begin the year, and it got worse when PL3 was suspended. 

 

Lou was a pretty great GM, so sure...we know things aren't catastrophic. It's all relative, but if I was making a list of bad moves, these are a bunch that would be near the top. The list isn't going to be moves that killed the franchise. I included Rolston because of the initial exit, and return.

Edited by devilsrule33
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I think you are off-base with Martin.  At the time, $5 mil per for 5 years was a huge contract for a defenseman who didn't quite provide the offense he was supposed to provide and while decent in his own zone, wasn't worth the money.  We basically replaced his defensive capabilities much better with Andy Greene and Zidlicky eventually was a much better PMD and provided much more offense at less of a price.

 

Also at the time I think the Volchenkov was a decent move.  We really did get pushed around in both the Philly series in 2010 as well as the Carolina series in 2009.  We really didn't have much of a tough presence at the blue line and Colin White was never the same after his eye injury.  Yeah his contract was probably a year too long, but that's what free agency does.  Also it is not like we signed him on the wrong side of 30.  Plus I really don't get this line " it was clear Volchenkov was no longer the destructive force that shutdown the Devils top line 3 years prior in the '07 playoffs."  I mean he got hurt in his second game as a Devil and missed about a month because of it.  I am of the belief that it is much worse than what was let on as I thought he did alright in his first game and change, but clearly that injury affected him.

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I agree with DM84, at the time I thought Volchenkov was what the Devils needed, they didn't really have any big, tough defenseman and I had Volchenkov slotted in right behind Kovalchuk as the two free agents I wanted the most that offseason. The contract was maybe a year or two too long, but I don't think it was a bad move at least initially in adding a tough, physical, shot blocking defenseman.

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The Devils didn't have any big tough D?  They had Salvador and White.  Anyway the Volchenkov move really wasn't that bad, and despite what Paul Martin said, I don't think he was ever coming back here.  It also cannot be ignored who Volchenkov's agent was.

 

The one defensible move (well okay two) of that offseason of 2005 is getting McGillis and re-signing Rafalski.  McGillis had had some good years and it was unclear just how much the crackdown on penalties was going to affect him, but oh lord, did it ever - he took 18 minor penalties in 384 minutes of ice time, which is simply nuts.  Malakhov is beyond indefensible and I said that at the time - in retrospect I'm convinced Lou looked at his +/- from 2003-04 and said he's good to go.

 

As for Rolston - this is revisionist history about the first time Rolston left.  Rolston had just come out of arbitration, so his salary had gone up considerably - there were 3 stages to a player's career back then, pre-arb, post-arb, and UFA, and they were more clearly demarcated than they are now.  The Devils did not print money in those days - every dollar counted.  They had a ton of forwards that year - Gomez jumped on to the team, as did Madden, and Morrison was still holding out or had just ended his holdout when Rolston was dealt.  They still had Vadim Sharifijanov who'd had a good year the previous year.  In short, the Devils actually had too many forwards, and so Lemieux being a UFA was not a bad thing.  Lemieux shot 7.7% in 2000 which is like shooting around 6% today, or maybe even less, and he still managed 17 goals - had he shot 10% that's 22 goals and I don't think we're talking this way about him.  And the Devils got a 2nd round pick out of the whole thing.

Edited by Triumph
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The Devils didn't have any big tough D? They had Salvador and White. Anyway the Volchenkov move really wasn't that bad, and despite what Paul Martin said, I don't think he was ever coming back here.

We had some physical defenseman, but like others have said, Whitey wasn't the same after the eye injury, and me thinking Salvador sucked isn't a new thing, I thought he was one of our worst defensemen back then too, so to me Volchenkov was on a much different tier. Saying White, Sal, and Fraser were our physical, defensive defensemen is like saying we don't need a player like Roman Josi because we already have Eric Gelinas, at least initially they were of a much different caliber in my eyes. Edited by CommonDreads
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I added to the honourable mentions...all things Brent Sutter. Lou was gaga over him in a 2-year pursuit to bring him to NJ. Let him come here when there was never a strong commitment. Watched him bail back to home to another team. Wasn't anything special as a coach either.

 

Again, nothing earth shattering, but Lou saw something that really wasn't there.

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Regarding the Rolston signing... I don't remember many people saying it was a bad signing at the time. It's great to have the benefit of hindsight, but this was a guy who was just removed from a 35 goal campaign that had 17 (am I right?) teams after him. I remember the consensus being 'yeah, probably too much for too long, but we needed to overpay to address a concern". The Clowe thing came out and immediately everyone hated it... but this was widely accepted as a strong move.

Unless my memory is awful.

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Regarding the Rolston signing... I don't remember many people saying it was a bad signing at the time. It's great to have the benefit of hindsight, but this was a guy who was just removed from a 35 goal campaign that had 17 (am I right?) teams after him. I remember the consensus being 'yeah, probably too much for too long, but we needed to overpay to address a concern". The Clowe thing came out and immediately everyone hated it... but this was widely accepted as a strong move.

Unless my memory is awful.

 

No that's pretty much how I remember it too.

 

The only bad thing about the Rolston signing was his age.  However he was supposed to bring offense that we really needed to put us over the hump.  He looked pretty good in his first pre-season game and then he got injured in the 2nd or 3rd game of the season against Atlanta with that high ankle sprain and was out for a solid month or two.  When he came back he wasn't the same also.

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Regarding the Rolston signing... I don't remember many people saying it was a bad signing at the time. It's great to have the benefit of hindsight, but this was a guy who was just removed from a 35 goal campaign that had 17 (am I right?) teams after him. I remember the consensus being 'yeah, probably too much for too long, but we needed to overpay to address a concern". The Clowe thing came out and immediately everyone hated it... but this was widely accepted as a strong move.

Unless my memory is awful.

 

No, people weren't really against it - had I known what I know now, I would've been, but back then, no way.  But it literally fell apart right away - Rolston got 5 minutes less a game in New Jersey than he was in Minnesota.

 

I have no clue why Brent Sutter thought Brian Rolston was a good fit at center.  I know he played some there, especially in Boston, but Minnesota had phased him out of that position, probably with good reason.

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At least with Shero, we won't have to worry about seeing Oduya,Martin, or Brian Gionta in a Devils uniform again. Lol

 

Why would Oduya coming back be a bad thing?  He's a solid vet defenseman that'd complement our young corps nicely.  I guess you could say the same with Martin except there's so much water over the bridge I don't think he'd be coming back regardless.  Lou had chances to bring Brian back and didn't.

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The Devils didn't have any big tough D?  They had Salvador and White.  Anyway the Volchenkov move really wasn't that bad, and despite what Paul Martin said, I don't think he was ever coming back here.  It also cannot be ignored who Volchenkov's agent was.

 

The one defensible move (well okay two) of that offseason of 2005 is getting McGillis and re-signing Rafalski.  McGillis had had some good years and it was unclear just how much the crackdown on penalties was going to affect him, but oh lord, did it ever - he took 18 minor penalties in 384 minutes of ice time, which is simply nuts.  Malakhov is beyond indefensible and I said that at the time - in retrospect I'm convinced Lou looked at his +/- from 2003-04 and said he's good to go.

 

As for Rolston - this is revisionist history about the first time Rolston left.  Rolston had just come out of arbitration, so his salary had gone up considerably - there were 3 stages to a player's career back then, pre-arb, post-arb, and UFA, and they were more clearly demarcated than they are now.  The Devils did not print money in those days - every dollar counted.  They had a ton of forwards that year - Gomez jumped on to the team, as did Madden, and Morrison was still holding out or had just ended his holdout when Rolston was dealt.  They still had Vadim Sharifijanov who'd had a good year the previous year.  In short, the Devils actually had too many forwards, and so Lemieux being a UFA was not a bad thing.  Lemieux shot 7.7% in 2000 which is like shooting around 6% today, or maybe even less, and he still managed 17 goals - had he shot 10% that's 22 goals and I don't think we're talking this way about him.  And the Devils got a 2nd round pick out of the whole thing.

 

On Martin, he said all the right things, but it didn't matter if ever was going to or not, Lou had Volchenkov as his main target. That was the mistake with the current roster personnel. 

 

I'm not against the McGillis signing. But we soon found out he couldn't play anymore, or it was going to take him some more time to adjust, time he never got. I've probably posted this a few times, but I love this story, so I'll tell it again. McGillis was asked about being the first cap casualty in the NHL when he was banished to the AHL. His answer was he felt like sh!t, but anytime he got too down, he'd see Mogilny riding the buses, and say, "that's a Hall of Fame caliber player playing out his days in the AHL. No matter how I feel, it can't be worse than how he feels."

 

Regarding the Rolston signing... I don't remember many people saying it was a bad signing at the time. It's great to have the benefit of hindsight, but this was a guy who was just removed from a 35 goal campaign that had 17 (am I right?) teams after him. I remember the consensus being 'yeah, probably too much for too long, but we needed to overpay to address a concern". The Clowe thing came out and immediately everyone hated it... but this was widely accepted as a strong move.

Unless my memory is awful.

 

Because people here wanted him or liked the deal, doesn't mean too much to me. The Devils had lost Niedermayer, Gomez, Rafalski, and hadn't made a free agent splash in a very long time. The fact that the Devils got one of the best players available, that was exciting. Everyone was yearning for a big name to come here. Teams were after him, but from what I read, few if any were giving him 4 years or $ million per season. The idea of the Devils getting a top target or a top target wanting to come here was as big as anything else.

 

Lou showed no concern for his age. "Age is just a number." I haven't found the quote, but he really had a strong response about Rolston's age and the contract. He missed on that one. That thinking has c unfortunately continued to be an issue up until this year from M&M, Salvador, Zubrus, Holik, Shanahan, Brodeur, Havlat etc. Rolston being the worst offender. There are exceptions, but hockey is a young man's game.

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honestly all those points i don't think that by themselves are big deals honestly and you can always look into those and kind of somewhat justify them one by one. We did well through all of those and it didnt really bite our ass "that much".

 

BUT, They are all part of a pretty damn clear pattern that lou has and this pattern over a long period of time did catch up with us and here we are.

 

Just that Lou mostly always sat and gave the opportunity to core players to walk for nothing (the list is pretty damn long) and thank god we were competitive and that players wanted to stay here, a LOT of them did re-sign but they could have walk too, you just can't gamble with that and it did bite our asses quite a few times. And then the patching work win-now mentality signing vets. Of course it was not a problem and the consequences were not as bad when we were a powerhouse and were drafting okay. But once our stock dropped it really exposed how problematic it was. 

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Why would Oduya coming back be a bad thing? He's a solid vet defenseman that'd complement our young corps nicely. I guess you could say the same with Martin except there's so much water over the bridge I don't think he'd be coming back regardless. Lou had chances to bring Brian back and didn't.

Just a joke. Poking fun at Lou's penchant for signing ex-devils

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honestly all those points i don't think that by themselves are big deals honestly and you can always look into those and kind of somewhat justify them one by one. We did well through all of those and it didnt really bite our ass "that much".

BUT, They are all part of a pretty damn clear pattern that lou has and this pattern over a long period of time did catch up with us and here we are.

Just that Lou mostly always sat and gave the opportunity to core players to walk for nothing (the list is pretty damn long) and thank god we were competitive and that players wanted to stay here, a LOT of them did re-sign but they could have walk too, you just can't gamble with that and it did bite our asses quite a few times. And then the patching work win-now mentality signing vets. Of course it was not a problem and the consequences were not as bad when we were a powerhouse and were drafting okay. But once our stock dropped it really exposed how problematic it was.

You have changed your tune. Why the sudden switch of oppinion?

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Going to try and recap everything about Lou's tenure as GM. Yes, I'm starting with some negatives, but the good will follow soon. I only became a Devils fan in 96, so there's only so much I feel confident writing about. If you have some input from way back in the day, feel free to add them. I made an effort to include only things that Lou had full control of. For now, here are 3 times when Lou was at his worst.

Malakhov, Mogilny, and McGillis

Lou sat, waited and did little as Scott Niedermayer pondered where he'd play hockey next. I'll never fault him for that, but once Scott chose his brother (or was it the SoCal life), Lou grabbed anything in sight and ran. Within hours of the Niedermayer signing, the Devils had announced deals for Brian Rafalski, Vladimir Malakhov, and Dan McGillis. As fans were trying to process life without both Stevens and Niedermayer, the contracts information starting coming in: a staggering 2 years and $7.2 million for Malakhov -- a player that seemed disinterested and contemplating retirement; 2 years and $4.4 million for Dan McGillis. Then two weeks later, Lamoriello had the Devils way over the cap by bringing back another ex-Devil, Mogilny for 2 years and $7 million. This was 36-year-old Alex Mogilny was coming off an 8-goal season with the Leafs (in 37 games) and two hip-surgeries with whispers of his possible retirement.

Looking back on these deals, it was pretty funny/sad how hard Lamoriello was selling these moves. He was in serious used-car salesman mode for a team looking like they'd be starting the "New NHL" without two franchise pillars. First it was stating that the Devils defense was stronger then when the season ended in '04, or letting everyone know that he hadn't seen Larry Robinson this excited before and that Malakhov was back where he thrived. As for Mogilny, it was raving about his game-breaking goalscoring ability and exceptional speed.

You can debate how bad each contract was (I'd say two were horrendous), but when all three of your new free agent signings are off the team and NHL careers over by January, something went seriously wrong. Two year contracts shouldn't be cap killers, but when you are unable to sign your team's leading scorer, your best defenseman and a backup goalie as the calendar flips to October because of two 35+ year players combined $7.1m cap hit, something went drastically wrong. When you get relief because one of the "game-breaking scorer"s who had two hip surgeries previously to signing with the Devils...ends up having chronic hip failure, something went very....well actually that turned out really well. And when you are forced to flip a 1st round pick for cap relief, I mean you get it by now. That's all sorts of awful.

August '06 to opening day of the 06-07 season was an unmitigated disaster (one with a divison title and a 15-game win streak!), but thanks to Lou using every CBA loophole, the residual damage was the loss of a 1st round pick, and ill will that carried over up until punishment time for the Kovalchuk contract. Cap mismanagement and the preference to go after ex-Devils, even if it meant overpaying past their prime players...this was Lou truly at his very worst.

Martin out, Volchenkov in

I don't know what it was about Paul Martin. Perhaps Devils fans were just spoiled from watching incredible defenseman for over a decade and expectations were out of whack, but Martin never seemed to get the respect he deserved say like Andy Greene gets today from fans. He was just a really good defenseman for a number of years in New Jersey.

That lack of respect may have extended to the GM chair because when Martin was set to become a free agent after the 09-10 season, the Devils interest seemed lukewarm. Paul said it was tough to leave New Jersey, but in the end the Devils had not made an offer until he had was ready to accept the Penguins offer. The then 29-year-old accepted their 5-year $25 million contract.

Why did the Devils not even offer Martin a deal before free agency? Well with limited cap space, and the need to leave some room for Ilya Kovalchuk, Lamoriello probably had the Flyers series a little too fresh in his mind with Chris Pronger completely eliminating the Devils best forwards. Lou's off-season priority was that the Devils become "harder to play against in our own zone, and make it more difficult on opposing forwards." It sure seemed like Lou had Anton Volchenkov in mind, and probably knew that signing both would be impossible unless Martin took a significant discount to stay in NJ. The Devils also seemed a little too high on prospects Alex Urbom or Matt Taormina at this point.

As the first day of free agency played out, the Devils let Martin walk, signed Henri Tallinder as a cheaper replacement to a 4-year $13.4 million deal, and then went all in on Anton Volchenkov. If this switch took place a few years later, the hockey world would have gone mad. The Devils blew away all other teams with a 6yr $24.5 million contract that Volchenkov reluctantly took at the urging of the Senators management.

While most Devils fans expected that either Salvador or White would be bought out, Lamoriello said that Volchenkov would actually complement the two of them. There was no way of seeing around the number of years of the deal. When asked about the length of contract and playing that style, Lamoriello quipped, "that's what they said about Scott Stevens." Sadly, from the first few games, it was clear Volchenkov was no longer the destructive force that shutdown the Devils top line 3 years prior in the '07 playoffs. While there were a few glimpses here and there, they weren't getting what they had hoped for in year one of a very long contract.

Regardless if Volchenkov played better as a Devil, the sad part was their was a clear disconnect between Lou's thoughts on what the team needed, and what the actual team needed from watching the playoffs vs the Flyers. The Devils needed to get more mobile on the back end. The priority should have been Martin, especially after just trading away Oduya. Rather Lou was doubling down on a big immobile group that already included Salvador, White and Fraser. Lamoriello was chasing a Scott Stevens type that wasn't out there when the Devils really could have used another Paul Martin.

Brian Rolston x2

This is a two-parts: We'll start with the obvious one: The Brian Rolston signing in the 2008 off-season was all sorts of terrible. The ex-Devil had Lamoriello chomping at the bit for free agency to begin. With a reported 17 teams after him, it was Lamoriello that gave him the extra year that few teams would give a 35-year-old, along with the dollars, and NTC. Brian Rolston was back with the Devils for 4 years and $20 million. While the "Cowboys" in Tampa Bay were doing all sorts of crazy things, even they stopped short of giving Rolston 4yrs or even $5 million on a 3-yr deal when they traded for his rights just before free agency began. Never a good sign...

Even though Lamoriello declared that age was of no concern when it came to Rolston, the contract was doomed from the start as expectations were never going to be met. Unfortunately age looked to be a concern from day 1, and pretty much anything and everything went wrong from weird power play configuration and personnel with him on it, having him play at center, a position that he hadn't played the previous 3 seasons, and then suffering a high ankle sprain that took him out of action for a few months.

But those were just minor details. Rolston didn't look like a player struggling or just wasn't getting the bounces. He simply looked disinterested most of the time in New Jersey, devoid of any effort. Not even being reunited with his coach during his best years changed much for him. It took Rolston being embarrassed as he passed through re-entry waivers for him to show a pulse. That was after he, laughably, called himself the scapegoat for the team's troubles. Some of this is unfair to Lou, but when you sign 35-year-old forwards to big 4yr deals, not a lot of good will come. For the Devils, there was no good.

- - -

The second part is the trade that ended Brian Rolston's career as a Devil initially. I'm predicting this one will have people disagreeing with me, but dealing Brian Rolston for Claude Lemieux a month into the 99-00 season was Lou once again looking to the past. Yes, the Devils won the Cup, but I'm not ready to credit an early November trade for Claude Lemieux as a stroke of genius or a key factor in their Cup run. If you feel your team is missing a certain something to go deep in the playoffs, why make a deal like this just a month into the season. And why deal a 26-year-old forward almost straight up for a 34-year-old.

Rolston would go onto to play 8 productive seasons before the Devils came back calling with a huge 4-yr contract. Claude Lemieux's useful days were pretty much over by the end of the 2000 season. The Devils sold too low on Rolston the first time, and then bought way too high afterwards. They ended up for paying for all the years that they missed out on.

Honourable Mention: The Ryane Clowe contract, The signing of both Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg to 2-yr deals at ages 40 and 39 respectively, almost everything to with allowing Brent Sutter did him around for a few years.

The M's were bad deals. Some teams gambled on speed in the new NHL, and some figured the game would go right back to being a big man's game. Lou gambled wrong, but he was one of many to lose that bet.

The Rolston deal was a good deal at the time. We needed goals, and Rolston had pushed 30 goals almost every year up until then. Same issue as Ryder, it's hard to tell when that train is going to stop. I guess by that logic, St Louis was stupid to sign Gretzky. His scoring dropped way off that year, so his signing must have been a mistake right? Hindsight makes a great GM of all of us.

The biggest mistake of Lou's time in my opinion was Kovy. I know that's controversial, and also aided by hindsight, but we just gave up way too much, hurt our cap situation, made it harder to retain free agents, and diverted from the Devils formula that had worked so well up until then in the hopes that one guy could save the franchise.

As for Martin, he was absolutely not going to resign in NJ. Lou is an honorable man. I don't think he was going to participate in a bidding war he knew he would lose just to raise the price for other teams. Right or wrong, I believe that's why he didn't put an offer out.

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Buried the Devils in 25 years of greatness and a couple years of victim of circumstance.  Other than that he buried them.  I'm still waiting for Part II of this series.  Although I worry DR33 may have been a little disingenuous with the title of this by making it sound like he was going to show both sides but actually just wanted to bash Lou with some bull.  But that would never happen here, WOULD IT?!

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Buried the Devils in 25 years of greatness and a couple years of victim of circumstance.  Other than that he buried them.  I'm still waiting for Part II of this series.  Although I worry DR33 may have been a little disingenuous with the title of this by making it sound like he was going to show both sides but actually just wanted to bash Lou with some bull.  But that would never happen here, WOULD IT?!

 

To be fair, "Part 2: The Good" would take a lot of work and time to compile, and that's a testament to how many genius moves Lou has made over the years, and how difficult it is to include them all and sort them out. 

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