This was definitely not the way the Devils imagined they’d end their California tour of duty. Winning and losing games are one thing. To lose one of their top forwards for the remainder of the Western Conference road trip is another thing.
Zach Parise suffered a lower body injury during the game against the Kings on Saturday. It was determined to be bad enough that he ended up leaving the arena to head home on a red-eye flight back to New Jersey with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.
After being evaluated by doctors on Monday, it was determined that Parise would have arthroscopic surgery on his knee. As of now, there are no reports of how long he will be out of the Devils lineup.
Parise had been hiding the problem with his knee since he first hurt it back in August. It wasn’t until he collided with LA King Kyle Clifford, that the injury took a turn in the wrong direction and something had to be done before it became worse.
Patrik Elias replaced Parise on the top line during the third period of the game, when Parise did not return after the second intermission. It is questionable whether Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac will continue on the same line for the remainder of the Western Conference road trip.
All eyes now turn to the few remaining on the roster, which seems to be dwindling every single day. Even a couple of rookies hit the injured list during the California road trip.
Matthew Corrente broke his left hand in a fight with Ryan Clowe while in San Jose. He is currently day-to-day and could return sooner rather than later. Jacob Josefson was also injured in San Jose after his hand was slashed. He underwent surgery to repair a detached ligament in his right hand. He’s expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks.
“It always hurts having injuries,” Langenbrunner said of the situation. “But every team goes through it. We’ve got a lot of guys doing well and playing the best they can. It’s going to have to continue, because I don’t see [the injured] coming back any time soon.”
Even as the injuries are building up for the team, the Devils have proven in the past that despite their pitfalls, they can rise above. It wasn’t so long ago that they went without Martin Brodeur in net. They still found ways to win…and that was before Ilya Kovalchuk came to the Devils. When they lost Elias for months on end, he returned and the Devils fought back to make it into the playoffs.
This team has always found a way to win, despite the struggles they may go through. If anything, this road trip has helped them do some good things out on the ice for once…like learning to build chemistry together. It’s one step in the right direction, no matter where they are in the current standings so early in the season.
“It can’t be worse,” Brodeur said about the Devils’ start. “We’re hoping to look up. It’s not good.”
“I think the last two games have been pretty good games for us,” Langenbrunner added. “We’ve given ourselves a chance in the game.”
Kings Fans Don’t Like Kovalchuk
It was no surprise that Kovalchuk would be the center of the Kings attention on Saturday night, even though there really was no point to it. The story was not about Kovalchuk on Saturday, no matter how much the Kings media tried to make it the main story. The focus should not have been on Kovalchuk.
But that was how the media constantly billed the game all throughout the night. The Kovalchuk hype was even drummed up more each time he touched the ice, each time he touched the puck, and each time the fans shouted, “Hey Kovalchuk, you suck!” Yes, the Kings fans booed him all night long.
It would appear that the Kings fans really did believe they were getting the Russian winger during free agency. It was evidenced by the way they treated him all throughout the game…as if he betrayed them. Or better yet, they treated him like they had been rejected.
The reality of the situation is that Kovalchuk to the Kings was just an unrealistic rumor. The Kings media never spoke to Kovalchuk or his agent throughout the whole free agency process. They fed the rumor frenzy instead of going directly to the source to find out if it was true or not. The media drummed up the hype as if it was a sure thing that Kovalchuk would be a King.
Sure, he came out to LA for a free trip where he was wined and dined by the Kings. But what free agent wouldn’t take the free perks that go along with being a free agent? All expense paid trip to Los Angeles? You’re not twisting anyone’s arm. But it does not mean that he has to buy into the time share.
The lesson here in the whole Kovalchuk/Kings drama is not to believe the rumors you hear out there, especially if it didn’t come from the player or their agent. Kovalchuk’s camp put out there exactly what they wanted out there. They published on The Puck Agency’s website stories that went along with Kovalchuk and the Devils working out a deal together. Not once over the summer did they publish anything related to Kovalchuk to the Kings.
When you believe in a rumor, you get your hopes up. When it comes out that the rumor was a lie…your expectations plummets to the floor.
In Kovalchuk’s case, despite the frustrations to make him a Devil, he signed with the only club he had been talking about signing with since the end of the 2009-10 season. There was no other real option for him that he wanted except for the Devils. They had been and was always his first choice. The Kings were never an option for him.
“He was an unrestricted free agent,” Langenbrunner said. “It’s for him to choose where he wanted to go, so I’m not understanding where the animosity towards him is coming from. It’s part of this business. Obviously, they must have wanted him [in LA]. If anything, I’m sure it made him feel pretty good that they wanted him that bad.”
“When you’re aspiring to be a great team, and you throw all the money at somebody and the guy just kind of blows you off and goes somewhere else, it’s definitely touches the fans probably more than the players that played against us,” Brodeur said. “That’s just normal.”
In the grand scheme of things, no matter how badly the Kings fans wanted him in LA back in July, the truth is they were better off without him. When the Kings fans weigh what they would have lost by signing Kovalchuk…would it have been a worth the gamble? No, it wouldn’t have been worth the gamble.
The Devils took a big risk. Was he worth the gamble? We’ll find out over the next 15 years.
“It’s not the first time I was booed,” Kovalchuk said of the Kings fans. “It’s nothing new for me.”