This was one of the odder break-up days I've been through with the Devils -- or any other team for that matter.
Usually, many of the free agents will say they want to come back. Today, Brian Gionta was the only one who said that without reservation.
Center John Madden is scheduled to become unrestricted on July 1. When I asked him if he would be willing to listen to offers before that date, he said, "I guess it basically comes down to I want to go where I'm wanted and that's it. Obviously, if I'm wanted here, most likely I'll be here. But if I'm not wanted here, then I'l find other employment."
When asked if he feels wanted by the Devils, Madden replied, "Yeah.
But when asked if he was sure of that all season, he said, "No."
Asked if he thinks he'll be back, Madden said, "I don't know. Who knows? Your one question raises so many other questions, so it's not that easy."
Madden said he hasn't thought about what it would be like to play for another organization since he signed with the Devils as an undrafted free agent in 1997.
"I can say that before I came here to New Jersey, I definitely thought about that, but not while I've been here," Madden said. "I've been more focused on this place. To be quite honest, I never thought that we'd be having this conversation right now. I always thought I'd be here.
"I never thought I'd have this conversation because I just thought it would be a given that things would just keep going forward. That's a bad way to say it. It's just that when I was becoming an unrestricted before, a contract was settled. But it's just different."
Madden, who will turn 36 on Monday, has played nine seasons for the Devils. His role was reduced at times this season, but he went back to being matched against the opposition's top line at the end of the season.
When asked if he's the same player as he was previously in his career, Madden replied, "That's a tough question. Yes, I am, but I think me role kind of changed. I had to be a different player. I think as the season went on I kind of figured out a few things."
In other words, Madden does not believe he is over the hill.
"No," he said. "In fact, I don't believe that at all and I'll prove it."
Here's what the Devils other potential unrestricted free agents had to say today (other than Bobby Holik and Brendan Shanahan, which I'll get to in another post. Both Holik and Shanahan said they would wait before making their decisions about whether they want to play next season.).
On his approach to July 1: "I don't know. It's so early from the season. I haven't really thought about things and I'm sure neither has the team."
Does he want to return?
"Yeah. It's a great organization. The guys are great in this room, a lot of great friends and it's a great place to play."
On his $4 million salary affecting his next contract and whether he'd have to take a pay cut:
"That's not up to me. It's up to my agent and the clubs to figure out, I guess. I don't know. I don't try to figure out where you fall on that."
DEFENSEMAN JOHNNY ODUYA
What is his future with the Devils?
"I don't know. Like I've said before, I didn't think about it that much. We didn't have any (contract) talks. I know that Lou wants to leave that for after. It's a decision that I think that it's good decision, too. I think you should focus on playing hockey, especially during the playoffs. That's the biggest focus. Now, it's kind fo a sudden stop, so I didn't really have time to think about any of that stuff. I just got the phone call yesterday to go to World Championships (for Sweden) and I wasn't even sure about that.
"So, I don't know. We'll just see after the championships. I suppose there's going to be some talks going on and there's going to be a decision to make after that."
On his season and whether he has set himself up for a big raise from his $600,000 salary this season:
"I feel I had a solid year, but the free agent market depends on who needs what. I can't speculate about that. It's tough. I had a fairly good year. There are things I can do better also. For me, the way it ended, I haven't had too much time to think about the future."
Will he be listen to offers from the Devils before July 1?
"I'm open to anything. I'm not going to close any door anywhere. But there's going to be a couple of decisions to make. That's for the future. It's tough to say now. I don't really know what's going on."
GOALTENDER SCOTT CLEMMENSEN
"I'm going into two scenarios. One, I'm very familiar with having played my whole career on one-year contracts basically, going into a summer not knowing where I'm going to be the next year. That's not something new for me. But I do believe that this summer, as opposed to the rest, I think I will have the most amount of opportunities presented. That's what I'm anticipating anyway. There's two sides to the coin. One I'm very familiar with. So, you kind of put those two things together and I feel pretty good about it.
Would an offer to come back to the Devils as Martin Brodeur's backup be good enough?
"I want to be able to compete to be a No. 1 goalie. Obviously, it's very difficult to do that here, but I also am assuming that I have more than one or two years left in me as well. That doesn't mean that the situation I go into is one that I'm going to work my way into. So, you basically make the best decision based on the info you're given at the time. Unfortunately, I'm not going to know that until well into the summer."
GOALTENDER KEVIN WEEKES
Weekes revealed he had a sprained MCL in his left knee.
"Those are always tough for a goalie because you go up and down," he said. "So, I'm very encouraged with how its healed and where it's at now and am looking forward to being 100 percent soon."
Weekes said no surgery was required.
"I feel pretty good, considering where it was and considering how it feels now," he said. "It feels good. There's still a little ways to go, but it's ahead of schedule and it's made some good progress and I've worked really hard on it. So I'm happy with where it is right now."
Weekes spent some time working on his knee wth doctors in Toronto - the same ones who helped Tiger Woods in his recovery from knee surgery last year.
"We did a lot of things tha were a little bit outside the box, a little unconventional as far as the type of treatment that helped it heal this quickly," he said. "Unfortunately, we're out. Fortunately, I did everything I could to speed up the recovery and be healthy and had we gone on I would have like to have thought that I would be back at some point in the second round,"
Does Weekes think he will be back with the Devils next season?
"That's a great question," he said. "Obviously, you never know how things are going to work out with free agency and you never want to take anything for granted one way or the other. There's just so many unknowns and so many variables. As far as my time here, I really enjoyed my time here. There's a lot that I really like about this organization, We were able to accomplish some pretty unique things, although we didn't ultimately go as far as we wanted to. But it was certainly nice to be a contributer and be a part of that.
"Looking forward now, my main priority is to make sure my knee is 100 percent and just assessing all options from there later on in the summer."
LEFT WING MIKE RUPP
On his hockey future: "I don't know. It's yet to be seen."
On whether he wants to re-sign with the Devils: "I think I need to sit down and talk with Mr. Lamorielllo, so I'm not really going to comment too much on anything."
Is he looking for an increased role or ice time?
"That's obviously always a factor. You just want to be somewhere where you are wanted and that will be left to be seen."
Did he feel wanted here this season?
And the other times?
"I guess that would be the opposite of feeling like you're wanted. It is what it is. As I said, I don' t want to say too much about it until I know what the plans would be ahead for this team."
DEFENSEMAN NICLAS HAVELID
Stopped by the locker room briefly, talked to radio announcer Matt Loughlin and left before anyone else could talk to him.