Burnside on Rolston: Then & Now.


Not sure if you guys have seen the new hatchet job by Scott Burnside on the Devils over the Johnny Mac firing. If you've read it, I'm sure you saw Burnside's anti-Devils vitriol bleed off the page. Anyway, he rips into Lou over and over again for just about everything, but makes sure to give him guff over the players he's signed. For example, he takes Lou to task for the "ill-advised" Brian Rolston contract. Granted, not the best signing ever. But here's what Burnside had to say about the signing back in 2008 when it had just taken place:


  • Devils sign forward Brian Rolston to four-year, $20.25 million deal
    There's a certain symmetry to much of what Devils GM Lou Lamoriello does. So it was that, in desperate need of offensive help, he turned to a familiar face Tuesday. Lamoriello, who selected Brian Rolston with the 11th overall pick in 1991, brought the forward back to the Devils' fold. Rolston's agent, Stephen Bartlett, told Rolston received firm offers from as many as 17 NHL teams, the most activity he's seen in 22 years as an NHL agent. But while the Devils didn't offer the most money (we are talking about Lamoriello, after all), Rolston's comfort with the Devils' style of hockey and familiarity with the organization was enough to prompt him to return. He comes at a time when the Devils are struggling to maintain their aura of indestructibility. They have not advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs since winning the Cup in 2002 and their offense and power play ranked near the bottom of the NHL last season. Rolston, who had three straight 30-goal seasons with the Minnesota Wild, will be a welcome tonic.
    Free-agency grade: A-


Burnside wrote that on July 2 2008, the day after Rolston signed with New Jersey. Notice he gave the signing the grade of A- (pretty hard for an "ill-advised" signing to get a grade that high, no?) Here's another one:

  • "Brian Rolston, originally selected by the Devils with the 11th overall pick in 1991, spurned more lucrative offers from other teams to sign with New Jersey (four years, $20.25 million). Rolston and his booming shot will be a boon to a team that ranked 27th in goals per game and had the 25th-ranked power play last season." Link here.


That was what Burnside wrote on July 8, just a week after Rolston signed with the team. Here's another quote straight from the horse's mouth from the "Summer Power Rankings" column on July 25, where he has the Devils ranked 6th overall in the NHL:


  • "We put the Devils here because they're always better than we expect they'll be. This will be true again with the addition of Brian Rolston and the continued growth of an underappreciated blue-line corps." Link here.


So Burnside clearly didn't think the Rolston signing was "ill-advised" at the time. If Burnside were such a smart guy, he would have called Lou out on that signing in July of 2008, instead of praising the move in at least three published articles. Instead, he called him out on it in December of 2010 with that wonderful 20/20 hindsight of his. And if Rolston signed with the Devils after "spurn[ing] more lucrative offers from other teams," and there were in fact 17 teams going after Rolston that offseason, wouldn't that make Lou a bit smarter than those other 16 GMs who offered Rolston more money but couldn't land him? Just sayin'.

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