The Calm Before the Storm

All is quiet in New Jersey right now.

But across North America, it’s not so quiet right now. There is a calm before the storm right now, as we watch the storm start to twist into place. Whether it becomes a rainstorm, a tornado or a hurricane…the devastation of what could happen is only in our minds right now. We just have to prepare for the worst and pray it’s only just a rain shower.

Yes, I’m talking about Kovalchuk’s contract, along with the other four contracts being reviewed right now.

That’s the topic I decided to write about as Inside Hockey re-launches its site today. I’m very happy with the changes because it now uses the same platform as this blog (which makes it easier for me).

I just wanted to touch on some rumors I’m hearing from the fans.

First, you need to read my columns more at Inside Hockey, because what I’m about to talk about here is stuff I’ve already discussed at IH.

The Jason Arnott trade (remember Arnott?) solidified that certain players on the New Jersey Devils would not be moved in an effort to dump salary for Kovalchuk.

One of those players is Patrik Elias.

Patrik Elias…WILL NOT, I repeat WILL NOT be traded to clear space for Kovalchuk. Patty has a NTC/NMC in place. He has no interest in waiving the clause.

For those so eager to get rid of Patty, think again. He’s not moving. That NTC/NMC is keeping him there. He’s not EVER leaving until he retires. He’s done more for this team than you give him credit for. He’s breaking records alongside Marty Brodeur, so don’t shortchange him.

Brian Rolston is also not up on the trade block. He is covered under the Arnott trade.

There are others, though, that are not protected under the Arnott acquisition. IF a salary dump were to come, I’d look to those players that are so obviously not protected under the Arnott group as the possible contenders that could be moved.

Let’s move on to the Kovalchuk contract round 2. I’m just going to say this once. If Kovalchuk is truly a New Jersey Devil, he will work with the Devils to get his contract under salary cap so that it will not jeopardize the team or its future with other great players like Zach Parise.

I know that Kovalchuk wants to work with Parise. If his contract thwarts the possibility of Zach getting a reasonable raise and renewed contract, this will actually inhibit Kovalchuk’s desire to continue working with Parise. It does not work within anyone’s best interests if he were to upset the monetary balance on the team.

If Kovalchuk is a true Devil, he will adopt their mantra. Read Martin Brodeur’s “Beyond the Crease” to understand what being a team man means. If a person is going to dedicate the rest of their career to one team and one team only, they have to think about what is in the best interests of the team, not just what is best for themselves.

Marty could have taken more money as a goalie, but decided that it was more important to remain a Devil, so he worked with the team to make sure that his contract would not interfere with the team’s progress over the years in keeping players around.

This is where Lou Lamoriello’s team mantra has been ingrained. If you’re a Devil, you adapt. You take the paycut just so you can remain. You don’t think about yourself. You think about the team and its future. That’s what being part of a winning team is all about.

If someone is going to spend 17 years with a team, they need to learn that this team is family. If he plans on being in a successful family, he has to take the gains with the sacrifices. Money is nice, but this is about the love of the game and experiencing these moments with one team and one team only for the rest of his career.

I’d suggest Ilya should talk to Marty. He’ll explain it all.

If Ilya is truly a Devil, he’ll do what it takes to get his salary under cap and make sure that what he signs will be able to keep Parise with the Devils when it comes time for him to renew his contract.

That’s what being a team is all about. Make sure the important people on your team still has freedom to re-sign just so you can continue winning together. It’s not all about money…there’s a thing called a Cup in the end. If you take all the money, lose all the great players, who’s to say the Devils wouldn’t turn into Atlanta?

You’ve got to sacrifice selfishness to be a Devil. Zach’s future contract rests in Ilya’s hands. The Devils and the Kovalchuk camp need to play these cards right.

Now that I’ve said all of this…where’s Mike Mottau?

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