Well I have to say maybe being a bit late with my article today is a bit of a blessing; I was on the Devils website looking up some statistics for the article I originally started when I glanced over to the side column and saw an article from 3:20 PM titled, "Statement from Devils' GM Ray Shero on David Conte." Before clicking it I thought to myself, "It couldn't be what we fans have been asking for, could it?" Upon opening the article, the news turned out to be true; Shero will not be renewing Conte's contract, stating that the move is in the "best interests of our organization." Conte's tenure with New Jersey comes after joining the team during the 1984-85 season; he served in his most recent position for the past 22 seasons.
Now I have to say that as a human being, I'm not happy with or ever rooting for a man to lose his job. Conte's job, however relied upon him directing scouts and ensuring that the Devils were choosing the best player possible (based on team needs) with each draft pick the team had under his watch. Conte did have past success, and according to the press release, was responsible for drafting Brendan Shanahan, Bill Guerin, Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rolston, Sergei Brylin, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta. The problem is that the most recent pick from this list is from 1998 and while the Devils may have had great luck with defensemen in the second round in recent years, the sheer number of misses with important draft picks (selections such as Ari Ahonen, David Hale, Adrian Foster, Nicklas Bergfors, and Mattias Tedenby) has crippled the prospect pipeline.
While prospects need to do their part to ensure their success in the league, the number of misses with high draft picks coupled with the inability for the most part to find good players with later round picks should have resulted in Conte being given his walking papers a couple of season ago. Even when the Devils were on the verge of another Stanley Cup in 2012, the prospect pool was virtually non-existent. It's the reason the team can't score goals to save their lives; it's the reason why we had to trade the 9th overall pick in 2013 for Cory Schneider. If a team isn't drafting well, it winds up being extremely difficult if not impossible to build a championship team.
Our New Jersey Devils are known for their winning ways, and unfortunately David Conte's draft record of more misses than hits in the past decade and a half or so is a large part of the reason why we have missed the playoffs for four of the past five season. The Devils have had one of the oldest rosters in the leagues for the past few seasons which is due to Lou Lamoriello older player free agency signings which is due to no capable young players coming up through the system.
I personally like that Shero is putting a fresh spin on the New Jersey Devils; loyalty is fine and well, but the NHL is a business as well. If a team loses season in and season out, fans will stop showing up as they no longer want to watch the same, losing product on the ice year after year. If that continues, teams wind up relocating; as I said loyalty is good, but if the team winds up relocating, there's no longer a team that can be loyal to its employees and players. Shero is shedding some dead weight from the team, and while 100% of the fan base won't agree with every move he has made or will make in the future, the fact remains that he's trying to move the team in a new direction. Considering that the old direction didn't even get us into the playoffs for the last three seasons, I'm excited to see what wacky ride Shero takes us on.
Now I'd like to hear from you our fans and your reaction to this news; are you happy to see the Devils going in a new direction? Did Shero make the right move here? Is Shero going to bring in another Penguins staff member to be the new head of scouting? What other feelings do you have on this move? Leave any and all comments below and as always thank you for reading!