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New Jersey Devils

NHL Morning Papers: Sometimes the best off-season moves don’t involve player acquisitions

While the signings of Scott Gomez, Chris Drury and Ryan Smyth garnered much off-season attention, the hiring of Brent Sutter by Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils may have been the most significant addition in the summer of 2007. Sutter was the best coach outside of the NHL for a number of years now and had been pursued by numerous NHL organizations with appealing coaching offers. Finally, this summer the former Red Deer Rebels coach decided it was the right time to make the jump into the NHL coaching ranks and he could not have found a better dancing partner. New Jersey is the perfect fit for Sutter and vice versa. Sutter, a Stanley Cup Champion with the New York Islanders in the early 1980’s, coaches much like he played. His teams are known for being well-prepared, hard working, always willing to finish checks, never afraid to stand up for one another and an undeniable willingness to compete. Sutter’s opinions on the game almost mirror those of Louo, thus, making this a match that, is allegedly, made in heaven.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Lamoriello’s penchant for firing coaches almost annually; however, this situation appears to be completely different. Sutter is a coach who could have gone anywhere, and probably could have had full control over personnel decisions; instead, he took a job in New Jersey, a place many consider to be a death sentence for coaches. Sutter would not have taken this position without being confident in the make-up of the Devils’ roster and, more importantly, his ability to mesh with Lamoreillo.

Hiring Brent Sutter should result in New Jersey ascending significantly in the standings and producing more points than they did in 2006/07. Although the Devils may not be the most talented team in the National Hockey League this season, they will definitely be one of the most difficult teams to play against, and that, of course, is a Sutter calling card.

On to the morning papers:

For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.