Tag Archives: klee

Devils Youth Alum Drafted

Kevin Shattenkirk, former New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club player, and sometime Boston University Terrier, was drafted 14th, in the first round, by the Colorado Avalanche. Way cool stuff. Perhaps Colorado has a quota on former Jersey boys: they picked up NJDYHC alum George Parros last year on waivers, but then made him just Ducky in a trade with Anaheim. To maintain their token Jersey limit, they started skating former Devils D-man Ken Klee. If Shattenkirk makes the big club, does someone else from Jersey have to ask “What exit?” on their way out of the locker room?

Perhaps it’s me, but I think having one round of the draft on Friday night is dumb. It’s not like they are going to get whopper TV ratings if it was broadcast in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, but it does crimp the style of some of the clubs (like the Devils) that would have draft day parties. Nobody is going to show up for 30 picks (especially when the Devils have none of them). Last year I ended up doing some shopping in the Devils surplus and locker room clean out extravaganza, and I got a cool poster that doubled as a rain hat when thunderstorms blew in.

Hale-ing a Ride to Calgary

Bye, David Hale.

I’m bummed to see him go. He was a large, stay at home defenseman, not a playmaker or a points-scorer but the kind of guy who could muscle a Crosby or Ovechkin out of the slot when needed. Rumors of his imminent trade have been swirling since his sustained benching a few weeks ago, culminating in today’s 11th-hour trade to Calgary.

For a draft pick.

True, Rafalski has picked up his play tremendously on the point, Paul Martin plays nothing like his real-world image (blond, skinny and glasses) and Lukowich and White are playing well (and healthy), and Oduya is the frosh surprise this year. But I likedDavid Hale, because he was quiet and hard-working, even when he wasn’t getting ice time; he was another fine product of the University of North Dakota (along with current fan fave Zach Parise); and I have a pile of his rookie hockey cards sitting in an album.

I’ve whined before about seemingly lopsided value trades made before, notably when Lou exchanged Suglobov for snowman Ken Klee late last season. Suglobov is in the AHL, Klee was waived and is now making snow angels in Colorado, and once again Lou demonstrated how he can win the GM chess game using a pawn, a knight and bottle cap.

Here’s hoping Hale puts a burr under the seats in the Saddledome. He’ll be missed by his Jersey fans.

Down But Not Out, But Close

I won’t give up until the fat lady sings, or in our case, Arlette stops singing at the Meadowlands.

But it’s really close. The Devils could be done in time for Mother’s Day.

Heads up to Matvichuk, Lukowich, Klee and Albelin: hope you enjoyed New Jersey. Fast, young, aggressive skaters who get to the puck and clear the zone are the new rule in the new rules of the NHL. Dumpy veterans who dump the puck into the high slot so it turns into a goal against are on the way out, literally. When I start picking out the defensive mistakes, it’s bad.

I hope Langenbrunner didn’t upset Lou too much tonight. Jamie’s a good guy and a good skater. Sergei Brylin might need to be worried, and the Devils might become the one of the only NHL teams without a Russian skater.

Attention all spouses of Devils fans: Expect this behavior for at least two more days, possibly until September.

Lucky Is As Lucky Does

Two and a half hours to puck drop. An hour until we leave for the great swamp. I’m pulling out all of the stops, all of the swag, everything I can think of, do, or conjure up to send luck to the boys in red and black tonight. We’ll be there in person, look for us to the right of Brodeur, about one section over and 6 rows back of the net. We’re the ones asking the goal judge to only hit the magic red button during the second period (when the Devils are shooting toward us).

Pre-game lucky checklist:

T-Shirt: Czech. Pun intended. The proper undergarment is the foundation upon which all luck builds. Although I’m going to riffle through the Minnesota, North Dakota, and Team USA hockey shirts, just to send a little reiki energy to Mssrs Langenbrunner, Parise, Martin, Gomez and Gionta.

Sneakers: NikeID Frees, in red and black. I don’t care if it drizzles and my feet swim home, as long as we’re singing happily in the rain.

Cheer gear: Czech (flag). A small remainder from the 2003 playoffs. It has been waved, moved, furled, unfurled, lost, found, and stored in a mojo-protected energy-sealed area for three years. As Rafiki would say, “It is time.”

Chair of power: Power creates slapshots. Slapshots break sticks. Broken sticks make a nice Adirondack chair. I sit, and contemplate my navel, then discover it’s gotten harder to get up. Must lay off of the Little League snack bar treats.

Evil Eye Avoidance: Hockey News cover shot of Elias and Klee is turned over, avoiding all ken-klee-a-horas.

Sharpie Kingdom: Scribed goodies from Pandolfo, Gionta, Gomez, Langenbrunner, Parise and Madden, neatly arranged around the Adirondack chair of power. Or something like that. I touch them like hockey mezuzot and hope I don’t get hit by lightning for such thoughts.

Food: The official Meadowlands dinner of chicken fingers, french fries, and soda, washed down with ice cream and a pretzel. It’s 38 steps from our seats to the concourse, so we’re getting some minimal exercise to balance out the calories.

Jersey: 1999 vintage Koho Devils red jersey, washed so many times the embroidery is starting to warp and pucker. As long as it fits after the required lucky eating regimen, I’m wearing it.

As I go in search of socks, I check out the Madden signed page from ESPN: The Magazine and realize it’s a picture of Mad Dog chipping away at the Carolina goalie, in a game the Devils won. At home. Hugely coincidental. Hugely prognostic. I’m not turning away any reasonable semblance of luck or good feelings right now. The word “fan” is a diminutive of the more SAT-caliber “fanatic”. How appropriate.

Game 3: One At A Time

Streaks begin and end with small things. One shot turns into a goal. One goal turns into a lead, and a lead wins a game. One win turns into a streak. On the other side, one defensive play prevents a goal. One good backcheck starts things the other way. One good play at the point continues possession in the zone. One thing builds on another. This is how streaks, teams, and fan bases are built.

Colin White skated today (that’s from the Newark Star Ledger, not because I spotted his truck in the South Mountain parking lot on a morning coffee run). Lukowich and Klee are better than they’ve played, and need to prove it before this season ends and their contracts look like cap room for Elias and Gomez. The scoring lines need to do just that, and the whole team will build on the little things.

Wednesday night in the Meadowlands. Time to turn this series around. Time to get back to even, one game at a time. Time to see what Big Lou is made of as a coach as well as a GM. I think we might wear our Euro-Elias jerseys, one from the Czech Olympic team and one from Metallurg (the Russian team on which Elias played last year). Have to have the lucky t-shirt underneath, so I’m leaning toward the basic grey Devils model. T-shirt, jersey, maybe even the little Czech flags we waved for Elias in the 2003 playoffs. One thing at a time, even for the fans.

Devils Over-Rotation

It has been classic over-rotation in the hockey media: Coverage of the Devils sweep of the Rangers, of Elias’ comeback from his battle with Hep A, of the team winning 15 games in a row. Patty and Klee are on the cover of the current issue of The Hockey News in a game-winning embrace. How cool is it when you have your hero and a snowman in the mainstream media?

But it’s pure over-rotation. The Rangers were done before the playoffs began. The Devils had too long a hiatus coupled with a trip down south where they historically struggle. The winning streak had to end at some point, and I’m happier that it was when there was still momentum to be shed from the over-rotation rather than lost going into the middle of a series.

But tonight’s game was a heart breaker. 20 seconds to go, and we’re dancing. 17 seconds later, we’re watching the Zamboni again, clicking through movie channels waiting for overtime. And then they coughed it up, coming home down 2-0 in games and having been thoroughly out-played, out-hustled and out-positioned. Both the game-tying and game-winning goals were the result of bad defensive positioning: Pandolfo lost sight of Staahl on the knotting goal, and Ken Klee looked like he was out having a sandwich on the game winner. Sure, Paul Martin made a nice move, but where was the defense getting back into the house before that was necessary?

Whitey, we miss you.

If the Devils can even this up 2-2 at home between now and Mother’s Day, it’s a 2 out of 3 series, and they only have to win one in the state where tobacco is a vegetable. Then again, that’s what I said last weekend, when the Devils flywheel had momentum. Time to step it up, across the board: players, coaches, equipment managers, fans, broadcasters, kids, everyone who wants to see this go six games.

I still believe, but my Devils-loving heart can’t take much more rotation.

Bluesmobile Trades

One of my favorite scenes in The Blues Brothers is where Jake and Elwood are riding in their recently acquired police car, and Belushi increduously asks, “You traded the Bluesmobile for this?” “No,” replies Akroyd, “I traded the Bluesmobile for a microphone.”

So far I’ve watched Lukowich take his eyes off of Peter Forsberg while shorthanded, saw Klee watch pucks skip over his stick on the power play, seen the Devils squander a week’s worth of power play opportunities, and observed the Canadiens, Lightning and Thrashers crawling up the Devils playoff tailpipe.

Lou is rolling his lines, trying to find a combination who can score. Yo, Lou, how about a combination who can control the puck at the blueline at even strength?

We traded the Suglo-mobile for this?

A microphone, a la Jake Blues, I could understand. Too bad the microphone isn’t announcing Devils goals.

Number 8 Revisited

I follow number 8s. It’s my number, it’s my son’s number, it’s fun to look for the little snowmen in all their shapes and sizes in the wild. I have pictures of seat number 8 from the 1980 Olympic Rink, and a ticket for seat number 8 at that rink on February 22, 1980, and a collection of jerseys bearing the twin circles.

Vadim Sharifijanov. Igor Larionov. Sean Brown. And with Brown’s trade, number 8 on the Devils’ roster opened up for new blueliner Ken Klee.

Klee and Lukowich, the two defenseman acquired by the Devils at the trade deadline, will prove their worth down the stretch. They both have looked a bit out of place in the early going, but the Devils play a tough defensive system and they’re the new guys in Jersey. Give them both another week (there are four consecutive days of practices scheduled over the St. Patrick’s Day stretch), and they’ll be clicking while giving Rafalski, White and the other D-men some needed rest.

The Devils have 16 games in the next 32 days: Starting Sunday, they play effectively every other day until April 18th. Big guys with big sticks will matter.