This is going to be an unusually short FFF this week, mostly because I had knee surgery Tuesday morning and had a miserable night last night and I’m writing this on Wednesday. I’m on pain pills right now, so hopefully this makes sense. But as you can tell by the headline, it’s about health. I’m a bit preoccupied with that right now.
James Nichols of NJ Hockey Now happened to write about this very topic after Ben Birnell, who covers the Utica Comets, wrote about it on Twitter.
Who jinxed the organization's health to start the season?— Ben Birnell (@BB_URSentinel) October 17, 2023
(Haula, Nosek, Foote, Halonen, Kinkaid, Nemec, Hatakka, Criscuolo, R. Fitzgerald, Daws. Did I miss anyone?) https://t.co/0VQR31FAWX
Now this was a concern of mine when I talked about how the Devils could fail to meet expectations this season would be the injury bug. That threat looms every year but I was especially worried about it this season because outside of Ondrej Palat, the Devils hardly had any long-term injury issues last season. Well, Mackenzie Blackwood too, but he’s been like that for several years so I’m not entirely sure they were counting on his fully last season any way.
Erik Haula has been one of the Devils best forwards through three early games. Especially the last one against the Panthers where he was dominant. But he’s clearly fighting something as he’s been missing practices regularly. And Tomas Nosek is seemingly doubtful moving forward right now. Sure it isn’t Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, but still, Haula is key to making the third line go and Nosek is an outstanding penalty killer.
And where the Nemec and Hatakka news becomes troubling is Hatakka, in particular, looked very ready to be the first call-up from Utica. And given how frustrated Brendan Smith makes me at times, I was hopeful that Hatakka might get that chance sooner rather than later. Not based on this:
This is the hit involving Hatakka from Sunday's game.— Ben Birnell (@BB_URSentinel) October 17, 2023
He also got a double-minor for roughing in the whole thing.
Dineen was having a few words with the officials after it all settled. https://t.co/kUOGRflpGd pic.twitter.com/8XdnQJe1pD
So yeah, he probably isn’t coming any time soon and the poor guy has suffered through injury issues in San Jose as well.
Not to mention, Utica is missing goalie Nico Daws probably until December. Remember him? He appeared like the goalie of the future two seasons ago when the Devils cycled through seven goalies and Daws was probably the best of the bunch (low bar that year, I know). But Akira Schmid was a part of that and he struggled mightily when he got his opportunity. Still, it’s rough seeing someone with the potential of Daws having issues before he even gets his career really going. The RVH is the worst innovation of hockey...but I’ll probably discuss that in another column later when the drugs are less intense.
Regardless, being on the shelf myself right now, I’m a little sympathetic to guys going through the injury bug. It’s a rough road back and it takes a ton of work, but let’s hope that the team gets these things out of the way early. The Devils have only played three games thus far and outside of many panicking over Timo Meier and Nico Hischier having slower starts, there hasn’t been much to be able to discern about the team other than they’re still figuring what they are out. My one hope is let’s get any and all the injury stuff done and behind the team early. And hopefully me as well.
Sorry for the shortish column. I’ll definitely do better moving forward! On the bright side, my daughter went to a season ticket event for the Ducks and got me well wishes from none other than, “Henrique, It’s Over!” So at least there’s that!
My daughter went to the Ducks season ticket welcome event tonight (one of her best friends has season tickets) and she got this for me and I think I may just cry. It’s over. SO THOUGHTFUL! #NJDevils pic.twitter.com/g61Tj4kHFU— Tyler Bleszinski (@papiblez) October 18, 2023
Come home, Rico! And that’s not just the drugs speaking.