In round two of us examining the Atlantic Division here at Islanders 101, we will look at a team that was hit particularly hard–The New Jersey Devils.
The Devils however, have been hit hard by free agency as they lost their captain and leader, Zach Parise.
The only positive coming out of this is that Parise jumped ship to the Western Conference, joining the Minnesota Wild, and not to an opponent in the Eastern Conference that could come back and haunt the Devils. Parise is a perennial 30-goal scorer and helped guide the team to the Stanley Cup Finals this past season.
Parise was thought to be loyal to the Devils, but spoke with Dan Barreiro of KFAN Sports Radio in Minneapolis about the factors that drove him out of New Jersey and to Minnesota. First, he is from Minneapolis, so the chance to return home to play for the rest of his career was something likely on his mind. It's something that he hopes will make it easier for fans to forgive him for not attending the University of Minnesota to play college hockey.
Second, teaming up with Ryan Suter was a plan, and the two of them discussed their options. Parise said Suter ultimately made the decision to join Minnesota.
"He knew more about the organization than I did just from playing against them often. He brought it up to me. The more we talked about it, the more I learned about it, the more I liked it. I would think you would have to give him the credit for that. He’s the one that brought up the idea and I thought it was a great idea," Parise said.
The current state of the New Jersey Devils ownership still in question likely helped lead Parise to his final decision. Owner Jeff Vanderbeek has failed to meet current financial obligations, putting the team in a massive debt. The league has allowed him until August 14, 2012 to get on track before the seize the team.
That last factor could be a reason the Devils haven't had much luck this offseason. They haven't signed any free agents from another team, and even let Martin Brodeur test the market. I understand he's getting up there in age, but he guided the team to the Cup. One of the best goaltenders of all time, seeing Brodeur leave New Jersey just would've been weird. Although Isles fans would've been happy to see him in net somewhere outside the division, bringing the face of the franchise back was essential for the Devils. That move was the only positive coming from Devils camp this offseason.
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