It seems like forever since Ryane Clowe last suited up for our New Jersey Devils. After signing a lucrative 5-year, $24.25 million dollar contract during the 2013-2014 off-season, Clowe was expected to not only to contribute to the team, but also to help replace some of the grit of David Clarkson who had departed for Toronto. Flash forward to the present day for a moment and we have articles popping up left and right, as well as this tweet from Rich Chere which seems to imply that Ryane Clowe will never play another hockey game ever again, let alone one in Devils red and black.
A Look Back
Clowe's career started out in San Jose, where he probably wasn't expected to amount to much as a 2001 sixth round pick. He played sparingly in 2005-06 recording 2 assists in 18 games. The very next season, he began to blossom into a prototypical power forward; he would score his first NHL goal that year along with 15 more on his way to 34 points in 58 games. Ryane continued to prosper during his time in San Jose, recording a pair of 20 goal seasons, as well as a 62 point campaign in 2010-11 all while providing a physical presence for the Sharks.
With an expiring contract (as well as an underwhelming season) during the 2012-13 season, Clowe was shipped to Our Hated Rivals by San Jose; while he was able to start producing for them, he appeared in only 2 playoff games and registered a mere assist before New York was eliminated from contention.
Clowe would then sign with New Jersey the following summer; as I said earlier, he was expected to bring some grit and toughness to a team that had just lost theirs to Toronto. His first season in New Jersey was spotty to say the least; he missed an extended portion of 2013 due to a suspected concussion, and then suffered another known concussion during the Zajac Hat Trick Game. The second concussion did not cost him too much time, but only due to the fact that it happened at the end of March, and the Devils did not make the playoffs.
Clowe seemed healthier and prepared to go as the Devils entered this past season, but his play was lacking (much like the rest of the team) as he only managed 1 goal and 3 assists in the 13 games he appeared in. Clowe was injured in November (with everyone suspecting another concussion) and would miss the rest of the season; the suspected concussion would eventually be confirmed.
What Could Have Been
Clowe never seemed to stay healthy long enough to be able to find a good amount of chemistry on the Devils; he did have a nice stretch with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr that sadly ended with the Hat Trick Game. Upon his return for 2014-15, he never had a chance to reclaim that position due to the Devils having signed Mike Cammalleri to play top line left wing.
The Devils have been cited as having a lack of toughness this season and Clowe's absence could be seen as part of that; essentially he's partly to blame for having to witness Mark Fraser attempt to play hockey again this year. Clowe did his job during his time on the ice; he stood up for teammates every game whether he wound up fighting someone on the opposing team or not. It would have been nice to have a physical forward to stand up to players taking cheap shots at our guys; hopefully the Devils can find someone to fill that role now that Clowe seems to be on his way out so to speak.
If Clowe is truly done, then it really is a shame; here we have a man who loves to play hockey, yet he can physically no longer play without decreasing the quality of his remaining years. I hope the Devils create/give Ryane a spot in the front office as he seems like a stand up guy and someone who would be good to have around for morale purposes. He seemed like he could be an asset to this team when we signed him (although I certainly balked at the contract) and it's just unfortunate how his career seems to be ending.
There could be a solution that allows Clowe to come back, but it appears bleak at best; I'd like to hear your take on the situation and any fond memories you may have of Clowe, be it in Devils colors or a Sharks jersey. If this is the end for him, I'd just like to say thank you to Ryane Clowe for the memories and good luck in the future.