This Thursday, the Trenton Devils start a three-game home series against the Cincinnati Cyclones.
In the second half of the 2008-09 season, it wasn’t wrong to expect at least four points out of such a stretch…possibly even five or six. But now, you have to wonder if asking for two points is a stretch.
The T-Devils are bad right now, there’s no getting around it. The fact that the parent organization treats the team like a fat guy treats a vending machine — put in a few spare coins and hope for the best — certainly doesn’t help matters. And that goes on and off the ice. The team, thanks to the budget they’re forced to operate on, offers minimal ticket deals and virtually no giveaways in comparison to other, more successful franchises in the league.
And really, just about every other organization has been more successful than Trenton this season both in performance and attendance. Only Johnstown’s ineptitude keeps the T-Devils, who were once perenially a playoff team and in the top four in league attendance, from being at the bottom of the attendance numbers and American Conference standings.
So both on and off the ice, the team has done little to attract fans outside of their typical marketing activities which have mainly fallen on deaf or uninterested ears.
After putting together a team that was very fun to watch for the last 30 or 35 games last season, many of the moves made in attempt to bolster this year’s club have fallen flat.
Whether it be players they erroneously brought back (Scott Bartlett, Matt Torti), players they brought in to replace key veterans (Mike Harder), underperforming organizational prospects (Kory Nagy), or poor play from those brought in at various points in the year (take your pick), it seems that there hasn’t been a combination of players yet this year that has shown they can win consistently.
Not to mention the fact that the club has been decimated by either call-ups (Matt Cohen, Jeff Prough, Trevor Kell, Chris Murray, Justin Coutu, Myles Stoesz) or players who sit in Lowell instead of playing in Trenton (Eric Castonguay), and it’s been a recipe for disaster.
And that’s ignoring the suddenly shaky goaltending from Gerald Coleman, who was widely regarded to have single-handedly turned things around for this club last year.
There isn’t one single player that head coach Rick Kowalsky and assistant coach Vince Williams has been able to rely on night in and night out this year. The defense, as a whole, has been awful. The only standout of any kind has been David Leaderer, whose six goals are tied for third on the team. In my opinion, Leaderer is the All-Star representative from this team, and for the most part, he’s picked up where he left off after a strong playoff series against the Jackals last season.
Up front, the scoring hasn’t been there. This team averages around two and a half goals a game, and given the sketchy state of the blueliners, that simply isn’t enough. There’s no desperation to score with this team, no confidence. Especially on the power play, you see it. They’re way too passive.
Simply put, the parent organization either needs to blow up the entire team and start from scratch, or try something new. If not, this team will continue to fail both on and off the ice. Anyone who sees this team, as currently comprised and using the system they currently do, making a second half run like they did last season is ill informed.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com