What’s Wrong With The Trenton Devils?

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

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11 Responses to “What’s Wrong With The Trenton Devils?”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Very interesting. Matt Cohen is my brothers name!

  2. Bob Says:

    i see u guys got Tomko, that should be a boost

  3. Trentondevilsfan Says:

    I sure hope so. I will say that starting like garbage then finishing with the best second half record in the league isn’t going to happen often. They ain’t dead yet, but they gotta make the move now. Tomko is a solid move in the right direction, but more needs to happen either with new blood or a revival of some guys who are underperforming. The consistent slow starts Kowalsky’s teams get off to is a concern at this point as well.

  4. titansman Says:

    As far as Coleman goes, it seems that teams have kinda figured him out. It seemed that Reading was really trying to go high glove side on him and they did a pretty good job of it. Maybe he has a chink in his armour.

  5. Trentondevilsfan Says:

    Certainly seems that way. Hopefully the chink in his armor is mechanical and not mental. Mechanics are easy to fix, the other….well look at Jason Smith. He was fine until he gave up his first goal.

  6. South_River_T-Devils_Fan Says:

    Mike–

    Although I am not an expert on the on-ice team, I will have to defend the back office folks. I have dealt with ticket folks (Ed and Dave) and mechandise people (Chris) and they were top notch professionals— courteous and very helpful. They all took the extra steps of returning phone calls to me confirm that everything I ordered was exactly what I wanted. A few of them even took an extra few minutes to chat about hockey with me.

    The prices of the discounted promotional tickets are excellent — ranging between $12 and $15 for lower bowl seats.

    My son is hooked as a fan so they had me as a customer anyway. The extra stuff I mentioned here is enough to keep me recommending T-Devils hockey to all my friends and family. I suspect you are letting a poor on-ice product color your view of the organization as a whole.

    Just one man’s thoughts….

  7. Trentondevilsfan Says:

    The problem is they’re given nothing to work with. Promotions not announced until December, no ticket books, no media guide, horrible PA announcer, almost non existent marketing. The problem is way beyond these guys and beyond Leahy as well, IMHO if you want to know where the real problem is look to Newark.

  8. chiarams Says:

    “The prices of the discounted promotional tickets are excellent — ranging between $12 and $15 for lower bowl seats. ”

    This is excellent, unless you’re a STH that paid more than that for the privilege of having the schlub sitting next to you pay less as a walkup.

  9. South_River_T-Devils_Fan Says:

    Chiarams–
    Point well taken… but on the flip side, if things turn around and they start to draw, you will still be in your good seats. The promotions will be changed to the upper deck and won’t be so cheap.

    The Yankees had similar issues when they had problems putting fannies in the seats. They decided to lower the prices after the fact and were forced to actively give discounts/credits to existing season ticket holders….

    If I could commit to being there more than 7-10 games, I would get season tix too. I know this promo won’t last forever. But for now, I am enjoying a decent promotion for me and my boy.

    TA

  10. tdevils Says:

    To be clear, I have no issue with the T-Devils front office for the most part. This was a pretty direct criticism of those really in charge…

  11. JB Says:

    Point well taken… but on the flip side, if things turn around and they start to draw, you will still be in your good seats.
    ===
    Unless the Devils decide to invest some money in marketing the product, it won’t matter how much the team wins. They were the best team in the league during the second half of last season and still were near the bottom of the league in attendance. If winning alone were enough, the Devils would be near the top of the NHL in attendance every year, not near the bottom.

    Marketing is especially vital with minor league sports. Most people who go to those games aren’t there because they’re diehard fans of that particular team – they’re there to be entertained. If they don’t know about the product, or they find the product to be boring, they’re not going to shell out $100+ to bring a family of four no matter how much the team wins.

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