Home Adidas jersey Devils must ‘take the next step’ in rebuilding this season, says Elias

Devils must ‘take the next step’ in rebuilding this season, says Elias

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“You don’t want to be part of a team that’s right there… again,” said Elias, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils and who holds several of New Jersey’s offensive records. “A team that doesn’t even have the chance to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so they have to go into that fight.

“I think this message has been said since the start of training camp, it’s time to take the next step.”

The Devils (19-30-7) finished seventh in the eight-team MassMutual East Division last season, missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third consecutive season and the eighth time in the last nine.

“Yes, we want to develop these young guys because it’s a young group,” said Elias, “but at the same time for them to gain more experience, there is no better way than to simply play in those tight games that mean something down the home stretch. “

Elias, the Devils all-time leader in goals (408), assists (617), points (1,025), power-play goals (113), power-play points (333) and goals winners (80) in 1,240 regular season games, announced his retirement after 20 seasons with New Jersey on March 31, 2017. He has since enjoyed occasional opportunities to work in a development / consulting role with his former team.

The 45-year-old spent the first week of training camp with the Devils before returning to his native Czech Republic on October 1. The former center will return to New Jersey again to assist the coaching staff at the end of this month.

Video: New Jersey Devils 2021-22 season preview

Elias discussed New Jersey’s many acquisitions, the defenseman Dougie Hamilton, center Jack hughes and more in a Q&A session with NHL.com:

Do you like what the Devils have been up to this offseason and what you’ve seen throughout training camp?

“Dougie (Hamilton) has been one of the best defensemen in the league … for a few years. He’s a great addition to this young team, there’s no doubt about it. He’s been with big organizations (Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Hurricanes) and I think he’s going to help. Jonathan bernier‘is a veteran goalie who has been around; he is going to be an excellent complementary person for Mackenzie blackwood by simply helping and simply showing the tricks of the trade. Defenders Ryan grave and Jonas Siegenthaler … these three D men (including Hamilton at 6’6, 230 lbs)) are pretty big and long guys (Graves at 6-5, 220; Siegenthaler 6-2, 218). I think that’s what’s going to be the biggest difference for this team. The size of the back line is going to help with how they want to play with certain systems. “

Do you like what the Devils have up front?

“We’re kind of the same when you look at last year’s build. You’ve got the addition of Tomas Tatar, a 30-year-old who is considered a veteran and should be, so hopefully he can add another element to this young group. I spoke with [Tatar] several times at camp and he’s got the right frame of mind, he knows what it will take for the team to be successful. Hopefully he can get that message out to these guys from the start. “

Do you think Jack Hughes is on the verge of a breakout season?

“He’s a little more mature and I think that will make a big difference for him. The maturity, the strength and obviously the experience of the last two years. He has an idea of ​​what it will take to win on a daily basis. it’s not just about playing your own game in the game, but being able to sacrifice a bit of your game for the good of the team. He’s an amazing player, he has incredible talent, potential amazing, but he also has to start to realize that it takes a little more than just an attack. He’s going to play a lot of minutes, and he will face some great players, so he has to be able to play on the defensive side as well. . Just because he’s a little body (5-11, 175) doesn’t mean he can’t do that. I was a little body too (6-1, 190), and I played a defensive style … I had to do it. We know, offensively, he certainly has it. “

Center Pavel Zacha set a career-high NHL score in goals (17), assists (18) and points (35) in 50 games last season. How does he build on this success?

“I know there’s pressure as a first-round draft pick… to be picked this high (6th, 2015 NHL Draft). Even if you don’t talk about it every day, the pressure comes from the media, from management. , the way he was brought up in his family … very strict, very hard on him. So it took him a little longer, maybe, to develop and realize how good a player he can be and what he has to do, what are his pros and cons. Even with a few bumps and bruises, he finished the season and was consistent and that’s the most important thing. [Devils coach Lindy Ruff] did a good job giving it a clean sheet, a new opportunity. Either way, play on the wing or play in the middle. He likes the middle, but it doesn’t matter which position you play in because everyone needs to be able to play low. Hopefully he can just build on that and become a leader of this team. His full game is there and improving in every way. “

Were you surprised by one of the young players at training camp?

“Before Dawson mercer, Graeme clarke, defender Christian Jaros … He’s a big boy (6-3, 222) with very good hands. Mercer is a smart gamer. If you look at his body, constitutionally (6-0, 180), he reminds me a bit of myself. A little skinny, but when he plays the game he comes forward and his game improves. He is always involved, plays good, shows good patience. He has a good hockey IQ. “

What do you think of Ruff’s coaching style and philosophy?

“I’ve had so many coaches and I’ve played so many systems in my day… I played that style, played a trap in the neutral zone. One thing I didn’t do was way they come back to our zone They have a comeback, and when they come back into the cover of Zone D it’s a little new that these guys are trying to figure out. Sometimes it can be a little confusing because they want to be interchangeable. If you have veteran guys they already know how to move, how to be patient and aggressive. Lindy is honest with them. He doesn’t scream for 60 minutes of practice, but just says the right things at the right time . Even in meetings, he kind of speaks. You hear his voice and then he asserts himself at the right time. “

You played with Travis Zajac for 10 seasons in New Jersey. The center announced its retirement on September 20 after 15 seasons in the NHL, and will remain with the organization in a role of developing and advising players on and off the ice. What comes to your mind when you think about Zajac’s career?

“Stable. A guy everyone wanted to play with. Just a great teammate. On the ice he did everything right. He was a complete player and because he was so good he always played on both. first lines Everyone I expected if you played there you had to put numbers in right? But Travis wasn’t that type of player … never been. But he complemented everyone, and he’s one of those guys who are underrated, but as a player, coach and teammate you always knew what you were getting from him day in and day out. “

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