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What if…… Claude Lemieux was never moved out of NJ.


AEWHistory
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Claude Lemieux: difference maker or no?  

10 members have voted

  1. 1. Did moving Claude Lemieux after the first cup win cost the Devils more cup appearances?

    • Yes, Lou really screwed the ol’pooch sending Lemieux away after that cup win.
      8
    • No, Lou did the right thing. He wouldn’t have made a difference
      0
    • No, Lemieux would have cost the Devils too much to keep.
      0
    • Other
      2


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Okay, so it is the off-season (for us anyway) and, besides what we might do with our shiny new number 2OA pick., there isn’t a whole lot to talk about.  This got me wondering about an idea that has flitted through my mind from time to time: what if LL had kept Lemieux after the first cup win.  
 

Essentially, the question here is if Lemieux was that missing piece that kept the late 90s devils from winning more cups?  Or would things have stayed the same.  From my POV the Devils were one of the last teams that had a chance to become one of the great NHL dynasties. To do that would’ve required being in at least 4 Cups in 4 or 5 years and winning most of the cups they were in, if not all.  Even as it is the Devils came painfully close to being a true dynasty, as did the Red Wings.  Looking back at those late 90s teams it always seemed that what they lacked were playoff performers.  They were unquestionably a very good regular season team (although missing the playoffs after winning the cup was not a great look) but underperformed in the playoffs.  The answer, for me, was Lemieux and I submit that Devils missed out on at least one cup appearance because Lemieux was no longer with the team.

So that’s my opinion and I’m curious about we’re you all fit in this debate.  

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Posted (edited)

Whoa people, slow down!  I can’t get to all these replies….

 

Seriously, I thought this might create some historical discussion?  
 

EDIT: don’t make be beg…. Because I’ll do it and it isn’t pretty….

Edited by AEWHistory
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I think it was more complicated than just a personnel decision. Someone explained the story, but didn’t Lemieux get a contract but not fax it back or something and then tried to hold out? 

But I’d much rather have gotten Wendel Clark or kept Claude. We got the poo end of that deal with Thomas 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Devil Dan 56 said:

I think it was more complicated than just a personnel decision. Someone explained the story, but didn’t Lemieux get a contract but not fax it back or something and then tried to hold out? 

But I’d much rather have gotten Wendel Clark or kept Claude. We got the poo end of that deal with Thomas 

Yeah from what I remember Lemieux had agreed to a three-year deal via fax either after or during a second straight lackluster regular season (he hadn’t had a great 1993-94 regular season either, though he’d been quite productive during the 1994 playoffs), and after having a huge 1995 playoff surge, he and his agent then wanted to question the validity of a contract signed by fax.  An arbitrator ruled that the contract was still valid, and Lou basically said fvck that guy, he’s outta here.  It gets forgotten, but Lemieux had turned in a crappy regular season in 1995 (just 6 goals in 45 GP)…he was going through a divorce and was generally having a difficult time, yet Lou was still willing to commit to him.  Once Lemieux basically tried to renege on a mutually agreed-to deal, Lou was simply not having it.  There were other things going on too…I remember along with the general lack of production, that Lemieux was overstaying shifts in trying to get himself going, which was aggravating Lemaire and some teammates.  Yeah I think it had simply reached a boiling point at the time.

I would’ve rather had Clark too, even though he was injury-prone.  Thomas did have a lot of offensive upside at the time (he was only a couple of seasons removed from some productive years with the Isles), but he just didn’t fit in here…decent first season, but two very meh seasons (where he missed a lot of games) followed…one of those guys who felt stifled by Lemaire’s system?

I remember being thrilled when Lou brought Lemieux back, in a “Holy sh!t…no way!” kind of way.  He just gave the Devils a certain something, that “pest” factor.  It just felt good to see him here again, even though he was clearly not in his prime anymore.  As much as he often quite good with the Avs, things had soured too much with the Devils to think that he would’ve been as productive here.  

Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976
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Lemieux was also on Cam & Strick about 2 years ago talking about his bouncing from the Devils to the Avs and back. I can't remember what was said at this point but I do remember it was a good interview.

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13 minutes ago, jagknife said:

Lemieux was also on Cam & Strick about 2 years ago talking about his bouncing from the Devils to the Avs and back. I can't remember what was said at this point but I do remember it was a good interview.

I remember putting the pregame on the day after the trade (I wasn’t yet aware that it had been made), and seeing them talking about Lemieux and thinking “Why are they…”, and then of course they were talking about him coming back…it was just something that I never expected.  I had forgotten that it wasn’t just a one-for-one, Rolston for Lemieux…the teams also swapped a couple of 2000 first-round picks, and the Devils picked up a second-rounder.  It wasn’t a great draft class…with those picks, the Devils took David Hale (22OA) and Matt DiMarchi (57OA).

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Getting back Steve freaking Thomas after dumping a playoff MVP is what really stuck in my craw. If you are going to deal Lemieux, they should have gotten back a helluva lot more than a marginal talent like  Thomas.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, njbuff said:

Getting back Steve freaking Thomas after dumping a playoff MVP is what really stuck in my craw. If you are going to deal Lemieux, they should have gotten back a helluva lot more than a marginal talent like  Thomas.

Look at Thomas' numbers...prior to coming here, he was actually quite solid offensively...577 points in 667 GP for his career (Lemieux had put up 446 in 634 GP).  From 1991-92 through 1993-94, Thomas had cracked 30+ goals all three seasons and had averaged a PPG.  He had also played in just about every single game during those three years...even though I can't say I was any huge Thomas fan, I can understand why Lou would've wanted him...he was hoping that what was a down year for Thomas in 1995 was an aberration, and that Thomas still had some of his more productive years left in the tank.  It's not fair to call him a marginal talent...even though his time here was far from memorable, he did play 1235 games in the NHL and finished with 933 points.

All this being said, if I have to choose one or the other, I'm taking Lemieux every time.  

Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976
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I have a different one: the Devils absolutely win the Stanley Cup in 2001 if they had Pep. Gomez has said so outright on Spittin Chiclets. He held the team accountable in a way that nobody else did, even Stevens. Gomez said they take care of the series in 5 in 2001 if Pep was in that locker room. 

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16 minutes ago, MadDog2020 said:

I will always believe 96-99 don’t go the way they did with Pep in the fold. ESPECIALLY 96.

Agree except that unfortunately in that particular timeline, there was probably no resolving that dispute...and I can't blame Lou for likely thinking "WTF?!" 

Yeah 1995-96 was tough...Stephane Richer was also dealing with severe depression at that time.  Neal Broten never wanted to stay in New Jersey beyond the 1995 season (he hated the area).  Lou tried a number of ways to tweak the team (even brought in Claude's brother, which didn't help at all, and Esa Tikkanen, which was a complete disaster)...they did get it going for a while, but that last game against the Sens at home...just awful.

 

2 minutes ago, MB3 said:

I have a different one: the Devils absolutely win the Stanley Cup in 2001 if they had Pep. Gomez has said so outright on Spittin Chiclets. He held the team accountable in a way that nobody else did, even Stevens. Gomez said they take care of the series in 5 in 2001 if Pep was in that locker room. 

Brodeur was so inconsistent that year, both in the regular season and the playoffs...he was so not good in those finals that I don't know that even Lemieux and his invaluable intangibles would've been enough to overcome him.  Interesting idea though...Claude always did have that certain something that was hard to replicate.  

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17 minutes ago, MB3 said:

I have a different one: the Devils absolutely win the Stanley Cup in 2001 if they had Pep. Gomez has said so outright on Spittin Chiclets. He held the team accountable in a way that nobody else did, even Stevens. Gomez said they take care of the series in 5 in 2001 if Pep was in that locker room. 

I 100% agree with this. 

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2 hours ago, Colorado Rockies 1976 said:

Look at Thomas' numbers...prior to coming here, he was actually quite solid offensively...577 points in 667 GP for his career (Lemieux had put up 446 in 634 GP).  From 1991-92 through 1993-94, Thomas had cracked 30+ goals all three seasons and had averaged a PPG.  He had also played in just about every single game during those three years...even though I can't say I was any huge Thomas fan, I can understand why Lou would've wanted him...he was hoping that what was a down year for Thomas in 1995 was an aberration, and that Thomas still had some of his more productive years left in the tank.  It's not fair to call him a marginal talent...even though his time here was far from memorable, he did play 1235 games in the NHL and finished with 933 points.

All this being said, if I have to choose one or the other, I'm taking Lemieux every time.  

Thomas got his share of points, but he never came off as a player that you want on a championship team. That was just my feeling. Doesn't I can be wrong. 😁

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, njbuff said:

Thomas got his share of points, but he never came off as a player that you want on a championship team. That was just my feeling. Doesn't I can be wrong. 😁

Oh I'm not necessarily trying to imply that Thomas is a guy you'd want on a championship team...as far as that goes, I'm taking Lemieux over him every time.  There's no metric for this, but I get the feeling Thomas' numbers were "quieter" than Lemieux's...Thomas was obviously pretty productive (especially in his 20s), but to me he was a "kinda there" guy. 

I was more disputing the "marginal" player thing.  He was most definitely better than that.  Even in a largely offensive era, well over 900 points and 1200 GP is pretty impressive stuff.  Lots of players who'd love to have had a career like that.  

Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976
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Lemieux's actions during the whole faxed contract fiasco pretty much signaled he wanted out.  I do not fault Lou for shipping him out even after the arbiter ruled in his favor.  Too many times pissy players can spoil a locker room and I think Lemieux also had worn out his welcome by that point.

As for Thomas, he was another guy who was productive before he joined the Devils but then became less so under Lemaire's system.  He wasn't the first and neither was he the last to suffer that fate.  A lot of players during that era seemed to want to get out of dodge during the 90's (even during short stints) because of how either Lemaire or Lou (or both) ran things.  They include guys like Muller, Guerin, Housley, Morrison, MacLean, Stevens, etc.  Hell even Daneyko put up a little bit of a fight during that small players mutiny right at the start of training camp for the 91-92 season.

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