Why They’re Sitting At Home

You could make a strong argument that the 2009-10 version of the Trenton Devils should still be playing.  In fact, they’d likely be playing in Trenton tonight, in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs.

Instead, they’ve all returned home…well, not Jack Combs…but they’ve all returned home to sit down and wonder why their season is over.

Where do you even start with this team?  They didn’t really come together for the first 60 percent of the season or so, losing 28 out of their first 41 games.  The overall team defense was shaky, as was the goaltending, and a lot of the younger players had a difficult time grasping the pro game.

Rick Kowalsky and Vince Williams can only do so much, so the lack of having real, veteran leadership on the team hurt a lot.  The Mike Harder experiment just didn’t work out, and the organization — where the majority of the blame should be directed — did nothing to attempt to replace him.

The goaltending was suspect for the first few months of the season as well, and Gerald Coleman couldn’t replicate the season he had in 2008-09, where he played a huge role in turning things around.  This year, it was Dave Caruso who tried to get the ship righted, but it was far too little, far too late.

I’ll take a look in a few days at which guys should and shouldn’t come back…but they’ll need more of a mix of veteran and young players next season if they have any hopes avoiding a repeat of this year.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


27 Responses to “Why They’re Sitting At Home”

  1. I want real hockey in Trenton Says:

    Good piece, but you’re not going to get that mix of veterans and young players. The Devils want to develop players in their system, and as much as they say publically that they believe they can both develop players and win, the latter is lower on their priority list.

  2. Bob Smyth Says:

    Mike, as usual, pretty much sums it up correctly. By the way, can anyone tell me why Brett Wilson was released?

  3. titans04 Says:

    to make room for Kucharski who was ready to come off IR, unfortunately it cost us a much better player. As the first post here says it’s not about winning to those in charge at this level. Lou Jr is a huge fan Kucharski’s.

  4. chiarams Says:

    Tastes great less filling.

  5. Shtikl Says:

    Well, there are icicles in Hell. (I’m sure it will thaw quickly.) The L-Devils squeaked into a playoff spot. Don’t know the opponent yet, depends on the outcomes of some games tomorrow. If all goes badly, they might actually end up playing Hershey… Das kann nicht gut gehen.

    I didn’t see any of the T-Devils in Lowell this past Friday night but maybe some of them are on the practice squad — probably all your favorites 😉

    Are youse all watching the Thunder by now?

  6. titans04 Says:

    nah more likely they didn’t want to spring for the hotel costs of bringing guys up.

  7. Shtikl Says:

    They did luck out, though, thanks to some help from Hartford — they’ll be playing Worcester in the 1st round, about an hour bus ride away, so they will be sleeping at home every night. Second round, the farthest they’d have to go is 2.5 hours to Portland, again sleeping at home every night.

    But the NJ-Devils will probably suck up the best Lowell players for THEIR practice squad, especially now they’re playing the Flyers. So Lowell will need bodies to fill the roster. D’ya think it’s prohibitively expensive to billet the players for two weeks? They could double up with some of the L-Devils, right? Sleep on the rec room floor over at Coach’s house?

    Myles Stoesz scored the GWG today, his first AHL goal. Youse should have seen him jump for joy!

  8. titans04 Says:

    T Kelll was on the last radio show last tuesday and said he was heading home in the next day or two. I would think he would be one of the guys they brought up if they were going to bring guys up.

  9. #39 Fan Says:

    Go NJ Devils! Beat Flyers!

  10. Shtikl Says:

    Hey, is it really true that the old Spectrum is still standing?

  11. titans04 Says:

    Chairams is the philly guru, but I think the answer is yes.

    Guess you won’t be needing Corrente for the Lowell playoff run.

  12. titans04 Says:

    make that Chiarams, I can’t think and type at the same time.

  13. Shtikl Says:

    Saw a post by Gabey88, a serious Phan, commemorating the anniversary of the Phantoms’ last game — so sad. I guess when Wachovia tanked, that mammoth “Philly Live” project went along for the dive. Anyway, maybe Lou could negotiate moving the Lowly Dweebles there for a season 😀 Would that be a twit to the Flyers, or would it just teach yet another fanbase to hate the Devils front office?

    Chere and Gulitti both said Pit Bull’s in Newark, but he’s not officially on the NJ-Debbies roster yet. Could have used his toughness against the Wistashahks, things have turned downright nasty between the Dweebles and the Sux the past few games. Oh well. Best of luck, Pit Bull! Rip the Flyers a few extra vents!

  14. chiarams Says:

    Spectrum is still there – Not sure if the plans for the entertainment complex have hit a snag because of the economic climate, but aside from ripping out seats to sell to the public, I don’t think they’ve done anything to the building.

    Also keep in mind Comcast Spectacor owns the building and the Flyers, so even if the building was still viable, I think I’d have a better shot at getting a lease there than Lou would.

  15. notimportant Says:


  16. Two More Empty Seats Says Says:

    Great post….but…
    Sure, Lou and Chris could have put a little more “ooomph” in the team by providing replacements when they took key players up. But this is a development league, and the likely scenario there is to teach these young guys to “suck it up” and play under adverse conditions. They finally got us Caruso and a few others, but – they took a lot away and never really gave anything back until the later third of the season. Too little, too late. And it filters down….

    Kowalsky and Williams could have played a much bigger role than they did. They were both guilty of being statues for the first half of the season. Suits pressed, ties neat, arms folded and heads in the sand (for lack of a “cleaner” metaphor). Can’t get a team motivated if they’re not willing to get a little grit under their fingernails….There came a time when at least Kowalsky got a little animated – 11 games left in the season, and he light’s ’em up by getting tossed by the Zebra. There was a renewed spark in the players after that…but…Too little, too late. And it filters down….

    The players could have pulled together – individually, there are a lot of talented prospects with decent individual records. How many games were lost by close margins this season? The record shows… It shouldn’t be solely the players role to figure out what gels and what doesn’t. That’s a coaches job…but in the end, and in fairness…they tried! Too little, too late. And it filters down….

    Ah, the Trenton fans…I’ve seen the crowds taper off over the years. I’ve heard the rumblings that the fans aren’t happy with the team because the team doesn’t light the red enough and log more wins. I’ve heard the stirrings that marketing could do more to promote hockey. And in the end, we, the fans tried. Ed Levin tried, the Trenton management tried…but it was already too late. Fan appreciation was at a dismal low this season, because hockey fans just weren’t buying into the lack of motivation and the final, eleventh hour push. Too little, too late. And it filters up….

    Next season, I’ll be spending a little less time and money in Trenton – first season since the inaugural year that I won’t be in the stands for every game. First ever that I won’t be paying the up front premium prices for decent (not great) seats and parking. So count two more empty seats in the dwindling stats. Apathy filtered down and set in, just like everything outlined above…

    Sadly, I can’t get behind an organization, management, marketing, coaches and players that don’t excite me, entice me and entertain me…from start to finish. We’ll see how I feel after 12 games next season.

    Too little, too late.

  17. Off-Ice21 Says:

    I think it’s funny how people always blame the coaches. You complain that they didn’t do anything and that there suites are pressed and ties are neat? What does that have anything to do with it? In case you haven’t noticed, all minor and major pro coaches have nicely pressed suites. It’s a dumb exuse on your part. Also, the coaches cannot lace up and play. The players control what they do on the ice, the guys behind the bench motivate them and give them strategic advice. You say they didn’t look animated? I’ve seen numerous instances in which Killer was talking to players going over defensive zone coverage, etc. It’s not written in a coaching contract that you “be animated”. Some of the best coaches in sports like Joe Torre and even a guy like Dan Bylsma are calm and collected. Look at the success they have had eh?
    This team worked hard down the strectch, plain and simple. But like life, sometimes it wasn’t good enough. Also, look at how many players were coming and going. You know how hard it is to establish chemsitry with a team when players are coming and going? Not an easy feat, as you may not even know who your line mate is. The Devils organization is a joke, no question. But the team played hard at the end of the season. If they won two games on that southern tour at the end of the season, they would still be playing now. The team we saw at home againt Elmira could have down some serious damage in the playoffs. But yea I know, too little, too late. Bottom line: take it easy on the coaches. Again, they can’t lace em up (even though they could still play) they can only help steer the ship.

  18. titans04 Says:

    imo the only thing the coaches are guilty of is being good soldiers in a game plan that’s handed to them from above which doesn’t include winning in it’s priorities.

  19. Shtikl Says:

    So did everybody sign up for the new Devils Data Base?


    ”Also, there is a section for you to tell the Devils about your experience this year, past seasons, or share ideas about the future. The Devils are open to any kind of feedback: questions, comments, concerns, ideas, etc. Some of the best comments/ideas will be posted to TrentonDevils.com.

    “”Devils representatives will be combing through every submission, one by one. So, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to include those in your feedback. We will do our best to respond quickly and comprehensively. ”

    Seems like this is a good opportunity to give them the benefit of your experience — including the fans who were alienated.

  20. chiarams Says:

    I’m not sure I could eloquently share my thoughts with the org without the use of big words they might not understand.

  21. Shtikl Says:

    Of course you can! But go ahead and use the big words, if that makes you feel better. You’ll be contributing to some intern’s higher education.

  22. titans04 Says:

    Lowell after winning the first game of their series proceeds to drop the next 4 in a row. Welcome to the first tee boys, no doubt the course has been painted red at this point.

  23. chiarams Says:

    C’mon T04…

    Small victories for Lowell – they got the first playoff win by a Devils-led AHL team since April 16, 2000. That’s worth something…

    At this rate, the Calder Cup will be theirs sometime in the next Millennium.

  24. Shtikl Says:

    And we got a glimpse of Jean-Sébastien Bérubé tonight, that was nice.

    Yeah, they lost, but it wasn’t really a surprise. They had a good first half of the season, but the wheels came off the cart in the second half and never really recovered. The Lowlies played their way out of a tie for first place, barely held on to a playoff spot, and got a gift from a rival that kept them from having to travel to Hershey for two games. They really weren’t ready for the challenge.

    Going to miss the Devils. Going to miss youse all, too — no way are they coming back next season, and I can’t be traveling to Trenton to support the T-Devils more than a few games a season. Of course that might be a good thing 😉

    I know youse are all mad at the Devils for driving the Trenton market into the ground. But honestly, the Lowell Devils failed because the Greater Lowell community failed to show up. So now I can finally separate the Devils from the city, and tell the truth: Lowell *really* sucks! Go, Devils!


  25. ??? Says:

    hey just stoppin by to see how all of you are. how about them ROYALS & FLYERS!!!???

  26. Shtikl Says:


    Reading went up 3-0 in the series, but Cincinnati won 4 straight to move into the Kelly Cup finals.

    ”No team in the 22-year history of the ECHL had come back from being down 0-3 in a best-of-seven playoff series to win. Cincinnati is just the sixth team in the history of professional hockey to pull it off, joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), 1960 Rochester Americans (AHL), 1975 New York Islanders (NHL), the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings (AHL) and 1999 Orlando Solar Bears (1999).”

    Wow, that’s a short list of come-backs!

  27. Shtikl Says:

    And in case you’re missing old-time hockey, check out the video of the Reading-Cincinnati brawl from their game 6.


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