Since the 2018-19 regular season is over, everyone had to pack up and leave the Rock for the Summer. Today was break down day. Exit interviews were had and the media was on hand to talk to all involved. Players took questions. Head coach John Hynes spoke to the press. General Manager Ray Shero and owner Josh Harris even got on the microphone to answer the media. This day is always interesting for what comes out as it could be a sign for what could happen in the future - or not. If nothing else, it puts a cap on the 2018-19 campaign. Therefore, here are some evening reactions to what came out during the day.
First and foremost, there was some team news. Josh Harris, owner of the New Jersey Devils, announced that Ray Shero has received a multiyear contract extension. Here is the announcement from the team’s official site as posted this afternoon by Marc Ciampa. Terms were not released and I doubt they will be. I could not even tell you how much or how long other GMs were signed. In this case, it is at least two years but there is a big difference between a two year or four year contract. All the same, it should provide some short-term security for Shero.
Is it deserved? I can see how an outsider may scratch their head that the team that finished 29th out of 31 teams a season after making the playoffs for the first time in six years decided to announced that they extended the head coach’s contract in January and extend the GM’s contract after said season. But Devils fans who have lived through Shero’s tenure as Devils GM are likely to be more sympathetic. He needed to blow up the roster in 2015 to re-build it and this roster is definitely Shero’s roster. Only three Devils have the same contracts they had before Shero became GM. This past season was a massive step back, but there are reasonable arguments that suggest that Shero is on the right path. Ownership probably would agree with the latter. Harris has been out of the public eye - which may be a good thing given the nonsense in Ottawa and Edmonton this season - so these two quotes from the article are worth noting.
“John [Hynes] did an excellent job creating a culture, players that care who want to win. I’m incredibly optimistic about continuing to work with Ray [Shero]. We’re investing across the board in every area. More scouting out there, hiring analytics people, hiring sports science people. That’s how you build a winner. You start with excellence off the ice and then you get it on the ice.”
”We extended Ray and as you know we extended John. We have a good young core with Nico [Hischier] and Jesper [Bratt]. There are no shortcuts to the top, there are only shortcuts to the middle. Ultimately, we’re going to get where we need to be which is an elite team who can compete for the Stanley Cup.
I think it is telling that among all of the younger players on the roster, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt were mentioned. Hischier is understandable; he’s the top-line center as well as the first ever first overall pick in New Jersey history. Bratt? They must clearly like Bratt.
It is true that Harris has been adding to the off-ice staff. The team did just announce Tyler Dellow as Vice President of Analytics last week. But will Harris and Shero add to the on-ice personnel this summer? Based on Taylor Hall’s comments - he should.
Yes, Taylor Hall. He exists. He showed up and spoke to the press. The Devils’ Superstar Left Winger and 2017 Hart Trophy Winner was at the Rock and he was willing to share his thoughts and feelings. He was not shy. The Devils, to their credit, posted the entire 20 minute video at their site. Here are some selected comments from Twitter:
Taylor Hall, 27, said being a part of a perennial playoff participant is something he does think about at this stage of his career. pic.twitter.com/SDHXcvVvvV— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) April 8, 2019
Hall responding to @mikemorrealeNHL question about prioritizing playing for a winner: “ I’ve been in the league for 9 years, played 5 playoff games and won one.... You also want to be cognizant of the process and not be chasing the wrong situation... I want to win for sure.”— Steve Cangialosi (@CangyManMSG) April 8, 2019
Hall says that the team needs an upgrade in talent. Team is in good position with cap room and draft picks. Wants to see what happens beginning with draft lottery tomorrow night. pic.twitter.com/Mru09q5De9— Matt Loughlin (@MattLoug) April 8, 2019
Clearly, Hall wants the Devils to be better and soon. And if the team’s most talented player saying so was not loud enough, then check this statement out:
Hall says that a conversation regarding an extension will wait for now. Wants to listen to what Ray and ownership has to say. Will also talk with his family and representatives. But has enjoyed/does enjoy his time here. pic.twitter.com/FOyYd2hwC6— Matt Loughlin (@MattLoug) April 8, 2019
Hall cannot sign an extension until July 1, 2019 but the negotiations absolutely could have been started or start today. In light of his other statements, that Hall will wait means that he will see if the team is going to be stronger before signing. It is in his best interests to do so. Hall is not a fool. He knows that the team as currently constructed is not good enough. They finished 29th after all. Since he wants to play beyond early April, he should wait to see if the Devils will add weapons to do more damage next season.
Not to mention that he needs to make sure his knee is OK. He admitted that he did not regret the process with his knee; but he also thought he would be good to go in a few days, as per Steve Cangialosi. Understandably, Hall will not play in the 2019 IIHF World Championships - also Tweeted by Cangialosi.
We will have plenty of more in-depth discussions about Hall and his potential extension, so I will not get into it here. However, these are quotes that can go either way. The pessimists will proclaim that this is the beginning of “goodbye.” The optimists will say this is Hall being coy about future negotiations. Neither is wrong - yet. Either way, it is up to Shero to not only make a good offer but improve the team to give Hall the playoff opportunities he’s not-so-subtly looking for.
To that end, Shero has acknowledged this challenge:
The first step to meeting a challenge is recognizing it. Shero has kept the books light in his tenure as Devils GM. All signs point to Shero planning to spend more money this Summer. We will have plenty of offseason analysis, so I will not go into it here. But these are strong suggestions that we will not see a repeat of last year’s relative inaction.
I want to close this out with a quote from head coach John Hynes that really stands out, especially with the associated picture. This comes from the team’s official Twitter account:
Hynes: “We aren’t where we want to be. We think there were some things that went really well and some things that didn’t.” pic.twitter.com/t2ATvP2nxn— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 8, 2019
It is not just a statement of the obvious. It is a challenge-able statement. I also think Hynes is being incorrectly even-handed about the “some things.” I can agree a few things went right; but also about the many things that went wrong and/or were not good enough. The team finished 29th out of 31. I do not think it is controversial opinion or a “hot take.”
That said, this quote, the picture, and that the team’s official account posted it is still very entertaining to me. I will try to use it in someway whenever something goes wrong in my life. Traffic makes me late for something? “I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I think there were some things went well and some things just didn’t go.” A post doesn’t get the intended reaction? “It wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I think there were some things written well but some things were not.” A group effort is behind schedule? “We weren’t where we wanted to be on the timeline. We thought there were some things went well and some things that didn’t.” Thanks, Hynes.
Anyway, that’s my evening reactions to today’s news. Shero has a new contract. Hall spoke and made his desires for a better team clearer. Harris spoke. Hynes provided a usable quote. It was a day. What are your thoughts about the news that came out of today’s break down day? Are you pleased that Shero has had his deal extended? What was your reaction to Hall’s quotes? Will Shero succeed in getting more talent? Please leave your answers and other thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.