Here is pretty much everything Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said during his meeting with the media before tonight’s game. He returned from the GM meetings in Naples, Fla. late this afternoon. I’ve separated them into questions about the trade deadline and questions about rules, etc. that the GMs discussed during their meetings. I edited out only a few non-pertinent questions.
Was there a sense of whether there’s going to be an active market at the trade deadline?
“No, I didn’t get a sense of that. I also saw statistics which were very interesting as far as the number of trades that transpired last year as compared to two, three, four, five years ago. (They were) very similar.
“But the trading deadline and (making) trades is always determined by who are buyers and who are sellers, but before you can be a buyer or a seller you have to have someone who has the potential of being out of the playoffs. And right now if you look at the points in each conference, you can see that if you go on a three-game winning streak or a four-game losing streak, you can find yourself on one side or the other. It think a lot will be determined very close to the trading deadline when those decisions have to be made with individual people with their free agency. Do I think there will be movement of players who are not free agents? Unless it’s a pretty big deal for both sides, I would be surprised at this point. It would have happened already.”
What can you tell us about what you’re looking for between now and the deadline?
“It’s a standard answer that you get all the time that is no different today than it is during the year. Whatever we can do to better our team. To say something specific is very difficult. You can always get better, but you can’t get better by just wishing it. You need somebody to be a partner and you go from there.
“We like our team right now. Certainly, in my mind, we’re playing very well. We’ve withstood ups and downs. We’ve overcome injuries. Right now, consistency is what we’ve been looking for within games and we’re getting that now. If you can get better, you get better, but that’s not saying you have to be trying to do something. But you’re always talking. I don’t think you talk any more other than the last few days just to make sure you’re aware of if there’s somebody who for whatever reason is changing their thought process on what they were doing three, four, five weeks ago.
“The standings determine that, but you have to watch very closely how other teams are playing and what other teams are doing. What their injuries are like. Who might be negotiating a contract with a free agent, if that’s going good in the organization. All of the intangibles come into a lot of things that transpire at this time that really are not on the surface that determine whether there’s opportunities to do something or not.
“And over the years we’ve gone from one extreme to the other. Sometimes no trade was the best trade to make (i.e. last season). Sometimes a little part situation, supporting cast played a major role. I can think back to when we picked up Grant Marshall (in 2003) from Columbus, which turned out to be a very integral part of that Stanley Cup. So, you never know. One year we made a big transaction and didn’t get the major benefits of it until the next year (the 2002 deadline-day trade for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner).
“So, there’s a thought process in everything. And, as I’ve always said, every decision we make for today, you cannot lose sight of tomorrow because it’s going to come awfully quick. And we have always felt that we do not want to be in a rebuilding situation no matter when, where or how. You don’t try and mortgage everything. There’s only one team that can win out of the 30. You want to give yourselves the best opportunity to do that, but not at the stake of sacrificing something that will be very difficult to recover from.”
Do you think the high number of players with no-trade/movement clauses will restrict the number of trades before the deadline?
“I think that is totally blown out of proportion because there may be one or two isolated situations. I don’t think it will be at all something that is a concern or an issue, nor should it be because when you give one, you give one because you have the right to make that decision. The player had a right at that time to free agency. Maybe he gave up something to get that stability. So, he has the right to not go. And I do not feel that is impeding things.
Any difference in the trade conversations?
“That’s always happened. That’s never going to change. I think the media (is interested in) trades and I understand that. That’s what you do. But, from the other side of it, I don’t see anything different. The conversations aren’t different. Going to dinner isn’t different. The phone calls are the same. The same amount of calls. It’s just because of different sets of circumstances within how the team is playing, where their free agents are, where their contracts might be, (what) people might be available might be different. All of the above and below enter into that, but the fundamental questions are still the same. Everybody is striving to win the Stanley Cup and put their team in the best position and then (there are) teams who are on the bubble today, which could change tomorrow and then making that judgment. Do I want to do that? Do I want to give my team a chance? I don’t want to show the fans that I don’t feel we can make it (note: he’s speaking hypothetically here and not about the Devils). All of those things enter into an organization’s (thinking).
“I know that we think the same. We want to give our team the best opportunity to have success and make decisions for today as best we can without ever losing sight of tomorrow. I might sound like a broken record, but it’s real. It’s the same during the summer as it is right now. It’s just that now you have a better understanding of the team and what you can and can’t do.
“What you strive for is getting in the playoffs, nothing else. Then, once you’re in the playoffs and you feel you’ve got a good chance, well (it’s) ‘how do I feel we can do going forward.”
On Cam Janssen:
“Cam’s a member of our team and right now the way our lineup is at this point no change is going to be made, but that’s not saying that won’t change tomorrow.”
NHL RULES, ETC.
On the league GMs voting unanimously to pursue a further reduction of the size of goaltenders’ equipment (in consultation with the NHLPA):
“They are going to address the goaltending equipment. I don’t think that anybody’s cheating outside the rules. I think it’s just controlling where it has gone as far as how the equipment is being made and how it’s coming from the manufacturers. But it has got out of control as far as what’s transpired.”
So next season, we could see some changes?
“Yes. In my opinion, you will definitely see changes.”
Do you think they’re needed?
“Yes. Absolutely, because I think whatever the rules are, whatever the specifications are, everybody should be playing by the same rules and not look to try to stretch things?”
Was it unanimous?
“Yes. Very much so.”
Anything else significant that was discussed as far as rule changes?
“There’s always a lot of discussion on the rules that we have and should there be changes. For example, how goals are allowed coming off the foot and the interpretation. All of that. You can refine that to the nth degree, but there still is a judgment in certain areas. But I think that the league has done an tremendous job with everything that does take time going to Toronto and getting it as close to being right as they possibly can. The reason is today everything is scrutinized so much television after the fact that you might as well you use the replay during the time that you have to get it right. There were a couple of recent goals that occurred that I’d rather not get into where there was discussion of should it or shouldn’t it (have been a goal).”
Was the disallowed goal by Mike Mottau (Dec. 10 in Washington) discussed?
“No, it was not discussed.”
Are they going to make any changes in that rule?
“No, they’re just going to refine the language to get it as close as possible to being right.”
What was your position?
“That they try and leave as much doubt out because it’s very difficult to decide whether it’s a kicking motion or steering motion unless you have a lot of time. It’s all positive as far as I’m concerned.”
On other things that were discussed:
“Talking about the IIHF agreement, which is in its last year, and what potentially can happen there and how it affects drafting players. That was discussed, but there’s no answer to that until there is an IIHF agreement, which there is not at time. And college hockey personnel came in and spoke about their game and Juniors came in and spoke about the game and how we can help them.
“We had breakout sessions to focus on different areas of protocol. Just to give you an example, should you have two minute penalties in overtime or should we have one minute and what the percentage of power plays are as far as 5-on-3, things like that. There were no changes made there, but a recommendation (was made) to experiment in the American League with the overtime (penalties). Those type of conversations. I thought it was an excellent meeting with reference to all the dialogue on the game itself.
You always say you shouldn’t get a penalty for firing the puck out of the rink.”
Is that staying?
“That’s staying. Yes. But you talk about these things and see if there’s any reason to make a change. The refereeing and what’s transpiring with the referees (was discussed), as far as the number of new referees. Everything that has to do with the game. Very open discussions.”
Did most of the general managers seem content to keep the shootout for the foreseeable future?
“It wasn’t even a question of whether it should or shouldn’t be (kept). There was discussion on someone said, ‘Should we go from three to five (shooters)?’ The answer was no. It’s staying at three.”
More on goalie equipment:
“The larger the equipment, the less net you see. The less net you can see, the (fewer) scoring opportunities. The blockers have been taken care of, the catching glove to some degree. Maybe that can change. But also you have to make sure that you don’t do anything that will give a chance of an injury. You have to look at the pants. Goaltending styles have changed. What areas are blocked more now than they’ve ever been and why? All of that. And I think the league, Kris King and Kay Whitmore, have done a tremendous job. They gave an excellent presentation to the general managers.”
Are goaltenders going to look the way they did 25 years ago or somewhere in between?
It was interesting because we did see how they all looked and I don’t think you’ll ever see how they looked in those days because even our players on the ice, their shoulder pads are different, just forwards and defensemen. In those days, you wore shoulder pads that had caps on them and there was nothing (in front). Now, because of the physical end and the way the game (is played) and the size, you’re protected in all areas no different than if you back to football.”
Is making the nets bigger a dead issue?
In my mind, that’s something that I would not be in favor of. I don’t know if anything is ever a dead issue because every few years we keep resurrecting things that are talked about, but I wouldn’t be in favor of that. And I don’t think there is an issue with scoring. I think that’s totally overplayed. I think excitement and chances are what people want to see in a game. Some of greatest games I’ve seen have been 1-0 or 2-1. And yet you had an exciting game (Wednesday) with goals with Montreal and the Rangers. You had a comeback. And then you get a 2-1 game. You can have it all. But I don’t think anybody wants to see goal scoring back and forth. That’s not the way this game is played.”
Was there any discussion of neck guards?
“No. What was discussed was whenever something like that happens (with Richard Zednik) what we can do in precautionary measures as far as accessibility in each rink, making sure everybody has the right facilities to take care of any catastrophic situation that could come about. There was a lot time spent on safety and pro-acting whether it’s for the players or the fans, glass, all of those things.”
Was there any talk about the dealing with something like that at practice rinks?
“No, that was not brought up and it’s certainly an excellent point.”
Anything on the increasing to an 84-game schedule?
“Those discussions were there, but those discussions can go so far because you need the players’ association. That’s not something the league can make on their own. There was discussion on different dates (for free agency) and pushing dates back. All of those things are discussed, but those things cannot be determined (without the NHLPA), so they’re not really worth going over.” (The NHLPA did not have a representative at the meetings).