Thursday, July 12, 2007


Lowell, Schedules, and Sutter?

Apologies for missing a whole bunch of things yesterday. Don't worry, I have something lined up for later today.

First things first, thanks to an anonymous commenter in the previous post, the Devils' farm team in Lowell will definitely have a new look. According to Rich Chere's article in yesterday's Star Ledger about the Vishnevski signing, a number of players will not return to Lowell: Tuomas Pihlman, Chris Minard, Dan McGillis, and Scott Lachance. Interestingly, Jim Dowd is brought up in the same notes section. He wants to play again, but Lou isn't sure. I fear that the signing of Jari Viuhkola and the possible emergence of Rod Pelley may have replaced Dowd's spot on the team. That said, I wouldn't be opposed to him being re-signed for a relatively small fee; you can't teach experience. On the other hand, he would not likely be contributing much if he does play another season. I'm starting to see why Lou hasn't made up his mind yet.

Second, the NHL has announced the schedule for the 2007-2008 season yesterday. You can see the schedules of all the teams at For those of you who just want to know what the Devils' schedule is, go right over to 2 Man Advantage where there is a colorful and easy-to-read listing of all 82 games the Devils will play next season. The first thing you'll probably notice if the 9 away games right in the beginning of the season. With the Prudential Center going to open in late October (October 25th by Jon Bon Jovi of all people), this was the only option. Rich Chere highlights the fact that this is the longest road trip in franchise history in today's Star Ledger. He helpfully notes that the Devils do not play the Central Division at all (that means no games against Rafalski) and the Pacific Division comes to New Jersey instead of New Jersey going out west like last season (I still don't want a loss to the Coyotes). Pre-season will be all on the road except for a game in Trenton, NJ.

While long road trips for any team aren't desirable, I think if you're going to have one, it's best to have one early in the season. If things don't go well, there is the rest of the season to make up for it. If things do go well, it's a sign that the team is primed for a successful season. More importantly, the 9 road games in October means January and February - crucial months in the season - are mostly at home, with 8 road games combined in both months. I certainly have no problem with that.

Of note on the schedule is November 14 - the return of Scott Gomez to New Jersey - so expect more boos than the Bronx on that night. Just briefly looking at the schedule, I'm also pretty excited for November 30, in the hopes that Montreal continues to falter at the sight of Martin Brodeur and December 15, the revenge game against Phoenix - hopefully the Devils do not play as horrible and awful as they did last season against them.

Lastly, by way of Yahoo sports, the Devils may reportedly name Brent Sutter head coach of the Devils this Friday. This report is based on an article that Sportsnet had yesterday, stating that they can confirm that Sutter will step down from his role as general manager and head coach of the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels to coach the Devils. As a general rule, I don't get into rumors, but the fact that this is being reported so widely (OK, widely relative to the hockey world) means I cannot ignore it like other rumors.

Would Sutter be a good coach for the Devils? Consider the last really good coach for the Devils, Pat Burns - a tough, disciplinarian coach who demands defensive and offensive responsibility. Sutter is most definitely a tough coach, given his rep; and from what I understand he's all about discipline and defensive hockey. That alone would make him a decent fit, in my view based on what little I know of him. He's been very successful in the major junior leagues with Red Deer; but my one concern is how well he can transition to the NHL. Yes, he's a veteran - he is a Sutter after all - but coaching in the NHL is most likely a lot different from coaching in the WHL. I still think Pat Burns is the best man to coach this team; but I also understand that his health is preventing him from that - otherwise, he'd likely be named coach already. As far as whoever else was available, I think Sutter would be a better fit than other available personnel (e.g. Pat Quinn). Patricia has her own thoughts on these reports at 2 Man Advantage.


John, i wonder if Minard would sign with the Rangers affiliate; he is old buds with Gomez.
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