Well, here's some bad news. As reported by Tom Gulitti, today's scrimmage was the final one for the 2010 New Jersey Devils prospects camp. The camp is over. Done. Finished.
This means that there won't be a day open for the public for prospects camp. I'm disappointed with the news. Gulitti said last week that Lou said they would have a public day.
A lot of you have been asking about the Devils’ prospects camp, which gets underway Monday morning at Prudential Center. Lamoriello said that like last year the team will open up one of the scrimmages next week to the public. He didn’t yet know the date and time because the scrimmaging schedule had yet to be finalized. He said an annoucement would be made as soon as the schedule as set.
What was announced? Nothing as of this writing. Nothing at the Devils' website, nothing by email, nothing at all from the organization. Not even to say that there won't be a public scrimmage.
In the bigger picture, this is not a big deal. Matthew Corrente joined Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson as players who were sitting out of the scrimmages with injuries. Those are three of the biggest prospects in the Devils system and they're going to get games in preseason, which are very much open (but not free) to the public. We'll likely see them, as well as most of the minor league prospects (e.g. Tyler Eckford, Alexander Vasyunov, Jeff Frazee) with NHL regulars in September.
Moreover, decisions were made for some of the unsigned prospects invited to the camp. (All links per Tom Gulitti) Darcy Zajac and Matt Lombardi both got minor league contracts. Eckford got a two-way contract along with not-attending Patrick Davis and Oliver Magnan-Grenier. Aaron Leiwicki and Ryan Hayes made their cases in scrimmage, Eric Chouinard went back to Germany, and the other prospects got a chance to perform in front of the coaches. The camp served it's main purpose.
Still, I feel that the Devils blew an opportunity. Allow me to vent after the jump:
Last year's scrimmage drew a couple hundred people to the practice rink and it was fun to attend because we got to see some of the prospects on the ice. I don't get to see a lot of the prospects play in general, and from the crowd that showed up on such short notice, it was definitely a draw for people. From my recap, I came away impressed with a number of players like Alexander Urbom, Eric Castonguay, and Derek Rodwell among others who were on the cusp of (and eventually did) making the team (Rod Pelley, Matt Halischuk) and . Even if I wasn't, at least the Devils faithful got to see some hockey in the middle of the long, dead summer and something to look forward too in terms of the team's future. Not everyone can see AHL/ECHL/junior/college/European games with Devils prospects in them, so this and preseason are the only chances to see these players up close before they "make it" in New Jersey.
Alas, we won't have that this summer. Again, hundreds came to a practice rink on a Saturday morning with last-second notice last summer. With the number of local-born prospects along with the fact that some of these guys could make it in New Jersey, I can't accept that lack of interest would be a reason to not have a day.
I can't help but feel that that this is just another example of the organization's aloofness towards the fanbase. Last summer, people enjoyed themselves in spite of how short-notice the event went out. I'm left asking why not this summer? What is different this year instead of last year? Was it due to the injuries to some of the players? Was the rink quality so bad from the heat that it wouldn't be worth watching? Did the players, coaches, or management just not want to make the camp public at all? Was it out of concern of expenses? Why I'm coming up with possibilities for the Devils who can state the reason themselves?
Ultimately, the big question I have is, why tease it early only to not follow up on it? That's the source of the sour taste I have from this development. I hope there's an explanation. It would at least clear up these questions, answer why there is no camp, and show the fanbase that the organization is aware. Will we get one? Maybe? If we do, it'll likely come from Gulitti or Chere and not, say, the official website that could and should be used for news about events like this. So stay tuned to those two, as you already should.
Again, in the long run, this is just a smudge in the bigger picture. Unfortunately, some remember those smudges far more than the overall picture and this was an entirely avoidable one to make, in my view. A piece of advice for the New Jersey Devils organization: Next summer, either state there's going to be a public day for prospects camp and what day that it will be or state up front that there won't be a public day at all. I'm not angry, I'm just a bit disappointed. Let me know what you think about this in the comments.