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A Decade of Necessary Changes Part 5: The 2013-14 New Jersey Devils

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The 2010s are ending and so will end a decade of New Jersey Devils hockey where past glories ended and difficult necessary changes were to be made. This is the fifth part of a series where Jaromir Jagr was still amazing and the Devils fans learned to hate shootouts.

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
When you’re Jaromir Jagr, you can sit however you want during a break in the game.
Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The 2010s will end on January 1, 2020. It was a tumultuous ten years for the New Jersey Devils franchise. Big trades, a player controversy, and massive changes in ownership, management, coaches, and players surround seasons where the Devils fell from past glories. It is not a decade that will be fondly remembered with some exceptions. It is a decade that forced the Devils to make some difficult, messy, and necessary changes. And as this decade closes, we can only hope that the changes that continue to be made will lead the Devils back to making the playoffs regularly, challenging for Stanley Cups, and perhaps being the model franchise for others once again. Before it ends, let us look back one more time at the 2010s with a mostly daily (this day will have two) series of posts summarizing each of the previous ten seasons up to New Year’s Day for an index and final thoughts.

In the fifth part of this series, this post will summarize the 2013-14 season. Much is different from where the team started at the beginning of January 2013. The NHL realigned its divisions and changed its qualification for the playoffs. Cory Schneider was brought into the organization at the cost of the team’s first round pick in 2013. Kovalchuk quit on the team retired and went to Russia. Jeff Vanderbeek was no longer the owner. The new owners are a group led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer. Lou was only in charge of hockey operations. Oh, and the team’s most offensive talent signed in the offseason was Jaromir Jagr entering his fifth decade of life. The team failed to make the playoffs in 2013. Would they make it in 2013-14? No. What happened? Let’s look back and find out what happened.

I hope to capture all of the major events. And if you feel there were things I missed or there was someone or something that you really liked (or disliked) that should have been highlighted, then feel free to share it in the comments.


The 2013-14 Season

The Record: 35-29-18, 88 points, Sixth in the Metropolitan Division (Source: Hockey-Reference)

The Head Coach: Peter DeBoer

The Team Captain: Bryce Salvador

The Top Scorer: Jaromir Jagr - 24 goals, 43 assists, 231 shots, 67 points

The ILWT Season Preview: We kept to the same five-part format for 2013-14. Here are the predictions from the staff, which links back to the other posts in that preview.

The Biggest In-Season Move: There was only one trade made during the season. At the trade deadline on March 5, 2014, the Devils sent Andrei Loktionov and a conditional third round pick in 2017 to Carolina for Tuomo Ruutu. I was not particularly pleased about the trade at the time. Loktionov ended up not lasting in Carolina for long. He went to the KHL in the following season. As Carolina did not keep him, they got the third rounder in 2017. As for Ruutu, Carolina ate some of his salary but he was still a fairly expensive bottom-six winger that did not contribute much. At least he played out his contract in New Jersey.

Playoffs?: No. This was the first season under the playoff format that is currently used to this day. The Metropolitan Division sent four teams to the playoffs in 2014. Both fifth-place Washington (90 points) and sixth-place New Jersey (88 points) missed out. The two wild card teams earned 93 points. So while the Devils had a team in front of them, they missed the postseason by five points. It was closer than how much they missed by last season. It was also frustrating to see as the Devils had 18 post-regulation losses that season. With a 0-13 record in the shootout, even a half-decent shootout team could have had them sneak into a playoff position. This season ensured a negative reputation for the shootout in the minds of many Devils fans. To think, they were one of the league’s best at it up to and including the 2011-12 season.

The Months in Review: Here is a link to each of the Months in Review for the season - which includes the Devil of the Month (DotM).

  • October 2013 - ILWT DotM Honorable Mention - No one; ILWT DotM - Jaromir Jagr
  • November 2013 - ILWT DotM Honorable Mention - Andy Greene (informal); ILWT DotM - Jaromir Jagr
  • December 2013 - ILWT DotM Honorable Mention - Andy Greene (informal); ILWT DotM - Jaromir Jagr
  • January 2014 - ILWT DotM Honorable Mention - Jaromir Jagr (informal); ILWT DotM - Cory Schneider
  • March (plus February) 2014 - ILWT DotM Honorable Mention - Jaromir Jagr (informal); ILWT DotM - Patrik Elias

For this season, I removed the honorable mentions as I thought it took away some of the shine from the Devil of the Month. I changed my mind later. Based on what was written, you can ascertain who I thought would be the honorable mention. So I counted it as an informal mention.

Also, February 2014 was a very short month of NHL games due to the Olympic break. So I combined those games into the March 2014 month in review post.

The Player Awards by the Blog: We were still ILWT back then - In Lou We Trust - and here were our choices for player awards for the regular season.

  • MVP: Jaromir Jagr
  • Best Defenseman: Andy Greene
  • Best Goaltender: Cory Schneider
  • Best Rookie: Jon Merrill
  • Best Defensive Forward: Travis Zajac
  • Best Offensive Forward: Jaromir Jagr
  • The Sergei Brylin Award for Versatility: Eric Gelinas

The 2013-14 Season Stats: This is similar to the charts in the By the Numbers sections in the current month in reviews. For this series, I put 5-on-5 stats, expected goals for 5-on-5 and all situations, power play, and penalty kill stats all in one chart for the season. Rankings in green were top ten in the league in 2013-14; red is for stats in the bottom ten. The stats primarily come from Natural Stat Trick with special teams stats being pulled from NHL.com.

2013-14 New Jersey Devils Stats and NHL Ranks
2013-14 New Jersey Devils Stats and NHL Ranks
Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

2019 Thoughts About the 2013-14 Season: This was a very frustrating season to watch and write about at the time. Today, I look at it and what wonder what could have been. What could have been if they won a shootout. Of course, what could have been if they had anything close to a league-median offense. The best way to deal with a shootout slump that no one can seemingly score on is to avoid it altogether. Get that extra goal or two in regulation or even in overtime and you do not need to play in a shootout. Alas.

What could have been if they made Schneider the true #1 goalie instead of splitting starts with Brodeur? Lou went out to get a goalie of the future and got a really good one in Schneider. Yet, they limited him to just 43 appearances. They split the work with Brodeur. Now, I want to be clear. I was definitely a Brodeur fan. I was stubborn to admit that he was losing it back then. Now, it was clear as day and I am sorry for not realizing it sooner than January 28, 2014. The Devils were a part of the NHL Stadium Series, which gave teams outdoor games that were not quite big enough or logistically possible for the Winter Classic. Our Hated Rivals had two at Yankee Stadium that season and the Devils were up first. Mike Stromberg attended on a media credential, I froze in the bleachers. We both saw the same thing: The End of Martin Brodeur. He was shelled like no other in that game and given the size of the game and the magnitude of the opponent, I think a lot of Devils fans had to accept that the legendary Martin Brodeur was human after all and played a lot like a 41-year old man. However, by that point, Brodeur put in a barely 90% save percentage in his games with his only argument in his favor was that the Devils coincendetally scored more goals with him in the net. When Schneider played, who was far better at stopping pucks, the Devils’ offense dried up. #Goals4Cory started in this season. Still, Lou, DeBoer, and the Devils I think respected Brodeur too much to limit him to backup duties as they should have. No, Schneider (or Brodeur) does not make the team score more. But given that they were still attempting to be as stingy as possible and get by on allowing as little as possible, they needed the better goalie to be in the net to make it work. 39 games for Brodeur was too many and maybe a couple of them would have become wins had Schneider been in net to make that extra save or two. Alas.

What could have been if the Devils tried to be bolder in making moves? Lou definitely spent a lot more money in 2013 to bring in Clowe, Ryder, Olesz, Jagr, and Brunner. The Kovalchuk retirement led to the last two. Yet, Lou only made one trade throughout this season and it was to move an offensively talented young forward for Tuomo Ruutu. It was not what the Devils needed. And out of those five signings, only Jagr worked out - and way more than I expected. Lou has never been shy about making a big deal to help his team immediately. But despite an active Summer in 2013 to re-stock the team, he was relatively quiet in 2013-14. Maybe he was trying his best and making a myriad of calls. Maybe the deals were not good enough or really there. But this was a team that needed some serious offensive improvement during the season and they did not go and try to get it. Alas.

Whereas 2013 was a season of streaks often going the wrong way, this was a season where the Devils were just coming up short too often. They were not a bad team. Their offense was weak (only Jagr and Henrique cracked 20 goals, ) but the defensive effort was still strong as it has been under DeBoer and his staff. Andy Greene was playing so well, he was a legitimate snub for USA Hockey for the 2014 Olympics. The penalty kill returned to be an elite unit. The power play success rate flattered their on-ice rates. As much of a pariah they have become, this was a season where the team really missed Parise and Kovalchuk. Yes, the team on-ice rates for offense were still really low with them. But they were able to provide a lot of shots and opportunities that often led to that needed goal or the play that someone would finish. I am not saying that the Devils should have shelled out huge to keep Parise or somehow convinced Kovalchuk to not retire and give him $11.6 million for the season. I am not saying they would have made the 2013-14 team make the playoffs. However, they would have helped their cause dramatically.

Instead, they failed. For the second straight season, DeBoer and his charges failed to make the playoffs. Years later, I can see how bad it really looks. While they did not miss it by a lot, there were new owners to impress. And Lou also needed to impress them after a 2013 offseason where he spent a lot of money signing new players and keeping current ones like Henrique on long extensions. Missing the playoffs is never impressive.

From the fan point of view then and now, what I think most fans will appreciate about the season is the wizardry of Jaromir Jagr. He was absolutely phenomenal. I thought he was going to be more trouble than he was worth at age 41. I thought he would chip in enough to justify a roster spot but not a regular spot similar to Brendan Shanahan’s return to New Jersey. No, Jagr was simply fantastic. He was constantly featured in the month in review posts. He led the team in production. He bodied up players almost half his age regularly. He took a lot of opponents to school. Jagr was a constant highlight on this team. He was worth watching amid all of the other frustrations that came from the season.

This season would turn to be the end of Brodeur as a player. Mike’s post was prophetic. Brodeur started the last home game on April 13. He was saluted off the ice. That would be his final game in a Devils jersey. It did not end pleasantly. Just look at his numbers from this season and the last one (and perhaps the one before that too). But it was a well deserved send off for one of the greatest goaltenders of all time and one of the greatest Devils of all time. After an offseason where Kovalchuk left, new owners bought the team, Jagr joined up, now Brodeur was on his way out. This really was a decade of necessary changes. And to think, we’re not even at 2015 yet.

Lastly, why could they not win a dang shootout? I still struggle with this over five years later. Sigh.

The 2014 Offseason

Well, it was not as big as the 2013 offseason, but plenty of note happened with two in-season events that required some action in the offseason.

  • First, an important event happened during the season that would impact the 2014 offseason. On March 6, 2014, it was announced by the league that they would reinstate a first round pick for the New Jersey Devils in the 2014 NHL Draft. As part of the penalty for Kovalchuk’s first contract being rejected, the Devils had to give up one of their first rounders in the next four years. They kept their picks in 2011 (Larsson), 2012 (Matteau), and 2013 (traded for Schneider). So this pick was set to be given up. But the league decided to give them a pick back. Presumably the league did not feel it was fair to punish the new owners for something that happened under Vanderbeek’s ownership. However, the NHL gave the Devils a first round pick and not the first round pick they would have had based on the league standings. The Devils were granted the 30th overall pick in 2014. It was better than having no pick at all. However, based on who they used it on, I have to think the smarter play would have been to give it up in 2012 when it was 29th overall and so the Devils would have had a higher pick. What was done was done. At the time, the Devils were still seemingly going for the playoffs so the hope was that it was not going to be a high pick anyway. What could have been...
  • Second, it was announced towards the end of the 2013-14 season but long time color commentator on MSG Glenn “Chico” Resch was leaving the booth. I noted his last broadcast was on the final game of the season in the final recap of the season. He was planning to retire. A few seasons after Doc stepped away from regular Devils coverage, now Chico was leaving. Chico had a great run. He was a joy to listen to when he was on his game. As with Doc, Chico will be the primary color guy when I think of Devils broadcasts. He would not be gone for too long but his time on the call on TV was over in 2014. Again, this was a decade of change.
  • Getting back to the actual 2014 offseason, the Devils ended April with some good news. They re-signed Jagr to another one-season contract, this time worth up to $5.5 million. I was happy to see it. Many Devils fans were happy to see it. Old as he was, Jagr legitimately earned this contract. He led the team in scoring in 2013-14 and was one of the team’s best players.
  • On June 3, the Devils announced that they have re-signed Marek Zidlicky to a one-season contract worth $4 million. This would be Zidlicky’s final NHL contract. I was fine with it at the time, knowing and having long accepted Zidlicky’s issues in his game.
  • Far later than it should have happened but on June 23, 2014, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced that Pat Burns would finally be inducted as a builder. This should have happened years ago. He passed away in 2011 and he should have received his posthumous induction then. He could have received an induction before 2011. His accomplishments were still Hall-worthy back then. At least it was finally made.
  • The infamous 2014 NHL Draft happened. If there was anyone not concerned about David Conte and his drafts, then they became concerned that year. I will make this a separate section at the end of this list.
  • The Devils made two decisions on June 30, the eve of Free Agent Frenzy 2014. First, they used a compliance buyout on Anton Volchenkov. He was on a $4.25 million cap hit with two seasons left. The Devils opened up some serious space with the move. I thought it was a good one. Second, the team signed Adam Larsson to a one-season contract worth $900,000. This was a bridge deal. While Larsson was playing regularly since being drafted, he had yet to emerge as the offensive or two-way force as originally projected. There was much grumbling about how DeBoer did not handle him right but the player plays on the ice and Larsson was becoming what he was becoming: a second-pairing caliber defenseman who can occasionally make a brilliant pass. Anyway, this was obviously a good bridge deal as it kept Larsson for cheap.
  • July 1, 2014 was another active day for Lou. Two new players were brought into the organization with one returning to it. The returning player was goaltender Scott Clemmensen. With Brodeur gone, the Devils needed a backup option in case Keith Kinkaid was not ready. It was a cheap two-way contract for one season The cheaper of the two players was winger Martin Havlat on a one-season contract worth $1.5 million. The more expensive of the two was winger Mike Cammalleri, who signed for five seasons for a contract worth $25 million. On the same day, Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta were re-signed. The Devils only lost one name player to free agency; Mark Fayne signed with Edmonton. My summary of how I felt about the first day of free agency in 2014 was here. Now, I would say that these moves were, well, at least a little better than 2013’s signings. Cammalleri at least addresses some of the offensive issues. However, that was a huge contract to give especially on the heels of Clowe’s huge contract last year. You cannot say Lou was not trying. Whether it was going to likely going to pay off, who knows.
  • On July 9, 2014, the Devils announced that a seven-season, $42 million contract extension to Schneider. This was a massive extension and a pretty big risk for someone who had to split the workload with Brodeur, who was a shell of his former self in 2013-14. However, this showed a lot of commitment to the goalie and it would ensure he would be starter for a long time to come. I would argue he was worth the money for about three and half seasons. Then the injuries cropped up and the hip really undercut his work. The Devils have been so under the cap ceiling in the last five seasons so this contract really did not keep them from making other signings. But it was a big one that looked really good for a bit until it did not. But back then, the good times were about to come.
  • On July 17, the Devils announced that they re-signed Jacob Josefson to a two-season contract worth $1.6 million. Josefson never really met his potential when he was drafted. Injuries undercut his chances. He was not aggressive enough on the puck to even shoot at times. He was often just there. Still, he was better than plenty of other depth guys. So this re-signing secured the 2010 first round pick for a little while longer. We can say now it did not work out. In 2014, there was still some semblance of hope he may break out instead of getting broken.
  • Another big contract extension that is still on the books today was signed in 2014. (It ends after this season in fact.) On July 30, the team announced a five-season, $25 million contract extension for Andy Greene. Greene became the Devils’ top defensemen and one of the most underappreciated and effective defenders in the NHL. He should have been on Team USA in the 2014 Olympics. He was taking on a lot of heavy minutes and keeping the Devils on the right side of attempts, shots, and chances in 5-on-5 play. He was a stalwart penalty killer. It seems like a lot now, but back then, he was absolutely worth the $6 million cap hit.
  • As Nate noted in his Devils in the Details post for August 4, 2014, the Devils hired Sunny Mehta to lead the team’s analytics department. Mehta was an early adopter of hockey analytics and was frequently part of the blog-based discussions with Tim “Vic Ferrari” Barnes, JLikens (the late Tore Purdy), Tyler “mc79hockey” Dellow, and more. A former pro poker player by trade, the mathematically inclined Mehta was the team’s first official and public announcement that the team was getting into analytics.
  • On August 6, it was announced that former Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski was going to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Another great player from the 2000s was getting his due.
  • Not much happens in August in hockey. At least, not in 2014 for a change. But on August 27, word got out that Scott Gomez was returning to the Devils on a professional try out contract for their training camp in September. Gomez left the Devils in the middle of the 2000s and signed with Our Hated Rivals. He has been booed ever since, even well after it became apparent he was not going to meet the contract amount, he and New York were failing, and after he was traded to Montreal. It was a meme of sorts to just do it even if it was past its proverbial sell-by date. There would be some redemption in 2014-15.
  • Shortly before training camp began in 2014, another assistant coaching change was announced. We could not get through an offseason without one in the first half of this decade. On September 9, the team announced that Scott Stevens was stepping down and Tommy Albelin was promoted from Albany to replace him. Stevens was not a fan of the travel and the requirements of the position. He would not stay away from the organization for too long, though.
  • Right as training camp began in 2014, Eric Gelinas and the team agreed to a one-season contract worth $900,000 on September 15. Gelinas was a RFA and was threatening to hold out for a better deal. Yes, Gelinas was threatening a hold out. This was a thing then. Really.
  • Lastly, on the eve of the 2014-15 season, Ryan Carter signed with Minnesota as the Devils placed Peter Harrold, Steve Bernier, and Cam Janssen on waivers to make room for their roster. Yes, the organization still had Janssen and Harrold back then. The final roster decision came down to signing Gomez or Jordin Tootoo from their PTOs. Lou chose Tootoo and told Gomez to working out in case an opportunity would arise. The Gomez Redemption Tour was on hold for the moment. More on that in Part 6.

It was refreshing to not have an eventful offseason for a change. No big name players quit on the team. No ownership changes. No management issues. No concerns about anyone finances. Just Lou potentially overspending to get Cammalleri, issuing two huge extensions, and some other moves to prepare for the season behind the bench and among tryouts. Even that was not so controversial. It meant for a more boring summer but I’ll take a boring 2014 after the extensive 2013 offseason.

The 2014 NHL Draft: So that first round pick given back to the Devils was for 30th overall and they used it on John Quenneville. I’m writing this in 2019 (soon to be 2020) so the 2014 draftees are either established or on their way to do so. Quenneville was eventually traded for John Hayden in June 2019 after failing to stick with New Jersey from multiple past call ups. That was what the reinstated pick was used for. I too sighed after I read this paragraph.

As a whole, this draft class was underwhelming the moment it was selected. I and others on this site were screaming for Brayden Point, who slipped all the way to the middle of the third round. Quenneville over Point in the first. Defenseman Josh Jacobs over Point in the second. “Character” forward Connor Chatham over Point in the third. I cannot be mad now about it in 2019. I can only be disappointed. And I was disappointed back in 2014. The last three picks were used on “enforcer” Ryan Rehill, J.D. Dudek, and “character” forward Brandon Baddock. No one from this class turned out to be a success. It is easily one of the worst drafts Lou and Conte had in a long, long time. I did not like it in my 2014 review of it and I do not like it at all now. Neither do you, probably.

Site News and Etc.

There was a new addition to the site during the season. A fan emailed me back in 2011 asking for a position out of nowhere. I said no because we had no openings then. Years later, he asked if he and his friend, Nick Gerli, could post up zone exit and passing stats from Devils games in FanPosts. I told him absolutely. After a while and being impressed with both the data and how it was presented, I asked him to become a regular writer for the site and to post his research as he saw fit. He agreed and that is how Ryan Stimson joined the site. He continued with zone exits and passing data for the 2013-14 season and then expanded his research elsewhere in the game. He was a mainstay for multiple years. Stimson has moved on to bigger and better things such as leading a hockey analytics conference (now all sports) in Rochester and authoring a book on hockey tactics: Tape to Space: Redefining Modern Hockey Tactics. Stimson has went on to have the most successful career from anyone from this blog. While he left, I am deeply grateful for all of the interesting and original work from the site. I am proud of what he has accomplished and I wish him well in his current ventures.

By the end of April, I got word that Matt, Karen, and Jerry were intending to move on. I wished them well. And I needed to find some new voices to replace them. I originally asked for two voluntary writers but I really needed three by the time it came to making a decision. Three would ensure a regular post every day of the week. I received a lot of audition posts. Eighteen to be exact. A massive increase over past entries . I thank everyone who auditioned, it was not an easy decision at all.

I decided on the following people and announced them on June 2, 2014: CJ Turtoro, Alex Potts, and Gerard Lionetti. These three are still here at All About the Jersey and still contributing on a regular basis. I am very fortunate to have found them and grateful that they volunteered for the site and stayed with it through a lot of season and into the current paid-contributor era of SBN (which is why you do not see me asking for auditions anymore). I thank CJ, Alex, and Gerard for their past and continued efforts.

Outside of the audition process, Karen’s impending departure meant I needed to find someone who was interested in Devils prospects. I knew of one person on social media who was rather passionate about it. I reached out to him and he was interested right away. Brian Franken joined up at about the same time as CJ, Alex, and Gerard and I also announced him for the blog on June 2. As with those three, Brian continues to play a crucial role on the site. He regularly updates the fans on how the prospects are performing, determining and leading who we profile for the draft every year, and leading the Top 25 Under 25 lists. I am very grateful for Brian being a part of the blog and I thank him for his work. Needless to say, the 2014 offseason established most of the site’s current writing staff. I thank Brian as well for his past and continued efforts.

This was a big season for the site in terms of personnel. There would be other changes to come but the core has stayed in place.

A Short Preview of Part 6, the 2014-15 Devils: The Fall is Rarely Smooth at the End of an Era.


Thank you for reading. Part 6 will be up tomorrow as the series continues.