Last week’s big news from the New Jersey Devils was the announcement of Martin Brodeur returning to the franchise. After three years of being an assistant general manager in St. Louis, Brodeur has taken a position on the business side of the organization as the Executive Vice President of Business Development. The fans are understandably excited. Of course, Brodeur could have come back in any position and the fans would be jazzed about it. Brodeur is a legend in New Jersey. He has a statue outside of the Rock, after all. I am happy to see Brodeur back with the Devils.
The decision is also an odd one in the sense that it is someone more associated with the previous era of the franchise. Lou Lamoriello is a legend and a massive reason why the Devils are what they are today. However, since Ray Shero was named general manager in May 2015 and Lou left the Devils later that Summer, there has been massive changes in the organization. The Devils went into a re-building mode, which has resulted in a lot of changes among players. But there were a lot of changes on the hockey operations side as well. With a new GM and contracts ending, much of the coaching, scouting, and support staff has changed. Brodeur is a rare example of someone joining the organization that is not new to it at all.
This led me to wonder how much has it really changed? Who is still in the organization that can claim to be a part of the Lou Era and the Current Era of Shero? Among players up with the New Jersey Devils, that would be Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, Damon Severson, Cory Schneider, and Keith Kinkaid. (As for prospects and young players; some were drafted under Lou but played only under Shero like Steve Santini and Miles Wood.) What about the staff members? Fortunately, I was able to find a copy of the media guide of what would be Lou’s final season, 2014-15. The New Jersey Devils’ own official website has almost fully detailed staff directory. As we start entering the mode of actual games and training camp, a quick look at some of the differences between the two is a good diversion as any. I focused on the major hockey operations groups such as leadership, coaching, scouting, and support. Names highlighted in green are those who were there in 2014-15 and are still with the team now.
As expected, ownership has remained the same. Joshua Harris and David Blitzer are the main owners, Hugh Weber is now just the President of the team, and Scott O’Neil has remained as CEO. That’s pretty much it. In addition to Lou, his son Chris and long-time employees Stephen Pellegrini and David Conte also left the organization shortly after Lou did. There also has been some shifts among titles at this level since Lou has left the organization. Instead of three vice presidents for hockey operations, there is an assistant (Tom Fitzgerald), a three director positions, and a senior advisor position. This area of the staffing appears to have expanded, even though I suspect that Lou did not need an assistant GM and those VP positions took care or oversaw some of what these other roles cover and oversee today.
I will note that the Director of Hockey Administration, Marie Carnevale, was with the organization back in 2014-15. She was then the Hockey Operations Executive Assistant to the President/General Manager. As those assistant positions are still titles and are filled by others, it seems to be a step up for Carnevale.
Again, there has been a lot of visible and not-so-visible changes with the coaches and their support staff. The only people who were around in 2014-15 and are still in the organization are current New Jersey assistant coach Rick Kowalsky, New Jersey video coach Mike Regan, and Jacques Laperriere. Kowalsky and Regan were working in Albany back then. Only Laperriere really has not seen a change in anything except for the title since the Special Assignment Coaches were effectively consultants anyway.
The coaching staff is otherwise totally different. The video titles have changed dramatically. There is no known Director of Analytics, as the Player Information personnel seems to have replaced them. The Director of Player and Team Development position was also created, Dr. Aimee Kimball received some press through her interviewing potential prospects at past NHL Combines. Player Development Coaches were established and the Devils have three of them: two for skaters and one for goalies. Scott Clemmensen did play for the Devils under Lou and even signed with the franchise for one last season in 2014. He became the Goaltender Development Coach in 2015 and held it since, so you could consider him to be another “hold over.” Due to the changes in titles, it’s possible this looks bigger than it was; but the area has increased from Lou’s last season.
Again, plenty of shifts in titles. The media guide really did list a team cardiologist and two team dentists. Those are no longer, which is interesting in of itself. The team did create a Chief Medical Officer position, which I assume would advise for other medical and dental needs as necessary. The Devils have also created positions for a head physical therapist, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, and a sports medicine internist since Fall 2014. They also added a second assistant equipment manager. As with the other areas so far, there are few people who were there back then that are there now. It appears Kevin Morley was promoted to Head Athletic Trainer while Brian Smith and Jason McGrath remained in the same positions.
Unlike other areas, the scouting department has a few more names from 2014-15 that are still with the team. I suspect it could be that scouts may be on contracts or agreements with the Devils. As such, they not as easily moved or replaced. Plus, it could be that the scouts that have stayed on since 2014-15 may have proven their worth. After all, just because they were around under different leadership does not mean they cannot contribute. While Paul Castron did replace David Conte, Gates Orlando was promoted to Assistant Director of Scouting and six scouts remain on staff in their positions. Those in italics are listed on the current staff directory as European scouts. The 2014-15 media guide did not specify who was or was not a European scout, so instead of splitting them out, I just did that to highlight them.
That said, there have been some notable changes other than Castron taking over as Director of Scouting. A new scout position was added among eight other scouts having changed entirely. Among the green names, only Vaclav Slansky Jr. is among the five European scouts on the current staff. The Devils doubled their pro scouting staff from two to four and replaced the original two entirely. Plus, that pro scouting staff does include longtime assistant coach and twice-interim head coach Peter Horachek, former NHL head coach Claude Noel and former coach, GM, and Director of Scouting, Andre Savard. At the least, the pro scout group has plenty of pro experience from a coaching perspective.
The last group to look is what I’m calling the AHL Staff. The team was in Albany up until 2017, when they moved to Binghamton. Kowalsky and Regan were moved up to New Jersey. Other than them, only Sergei Brylin remains in the same position. The cult hero has remained as an assistant at the AHL for what will be five seasons. I wonder if he wants to move on? Still, he one of two hold overs from the previous era. The other is Scott Stanhibel, who went from Athletic Trainer to Medical Trainer. That may possibly be the same position just with a different title name. That’s it, though, everyone else has changed at this level. The Video Coach position may be the replacement for the Coordinator, the Strength and Conditioning Coach is new, and the Goaltending Coach may actually be the responsibility of the New Jersey Goaltender Development Coach, which is Clemmensen. Plenty has changed with AHL affiliate as they moved across the state.
Overall, that’s 22 people I’ve counted. Some were promoted up, but most of those people are in the same position that they were in. Granted, that includes owners, the CEO, and team president - positions that really do not have a step up. Still, the many changes under Shero and others in leadership positions are real. A lot of the house, so to speak, has been cleaned from what it was in Lou’s final year.
I remind you that this is not a complete list. The number of hold overs from 2014-15 may be larger with other departments. The Devils’ site includes a lot of positions on the business side of the organization that did not appear in the 2014-15 media guide. Likewise, the media guide had game day staff listed that the Devils’ site does not have. Off of memory, Kevin Clarke is still the PA announcer, and others have been around (e.g. Dr. Murray Seltzer, Tom Steinel). I don’t have a media guide for 2018-19 so I cannot confirm that. I know that the broadcasting has had plenty of continuity. Matt Loughlin has been on the radio for over a decade, Chico was on TV and now on radio, and while they are with MSG, Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko have been the main team on television broadcasts. For the most part, though, it really is a new organization in the major aspects in staff outside of the highest positions.
To that end, I appreciate how the Devils have publicly welcomed and showed their appreciation for Brodeur returning to the organization. Sure, they know he’s a legendary player and he’s well liked by all the people who matter, the Devils fans. They know it’s good business to hype up a pending Hockey Hall of Famer coming to the organization he is best associated with and been a part of since 1990. But the people who know him best on a personel and a potential personnel level were Lou and his crew. Brodeur will have to not only get used to a new position in a new area of running a team, but also deal with a level of management who also has to learn a bit more about him. I hope it works out well for everyone involved. That said, I do not anticipate a return of former staffers and personnel from the Lou Era. As Shero became GM, ownership, Shero, and leadership has continued to move ahead with personnel and new positions as needed.
What do you make of these changes among the staff? Are you surprised at how much has changed? Or that there are still at least 22 people that are still in the organization from at least four years ago? Please leave your answers in the comments. Thank you for reading.