Brian Rolston was also among the Devils that participated in today's informal skate at Prudential Center.
Most of what Rolston said this morning was a repeat of what he said to me on the day Jacques Lemaire was hired as head coach on July 13. He did discuss going back to playing wing, a position he thrived in under Lemaire in Minnesota. Lemaire told me last month that he intends to play Rolston at wing this season after he struggled at center last season under ex-Devils coach Brent Sutter.
Rolston didn't hide that the didn't think he got the best opportunity playing for Sutter, but also tried to focus on moving on. Rolston didn't want to speak for Lemaire, but it sounded like he did not anticipate that the top line of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner will be broken up.
Here's the text of Rolston's interview.
What position will you play this season?
"I believe I'll be playing wing this year just from where I played in Minnesota and I think I saw Jacques say that in the paper. I'm more comfortable there and it will be a fresh start for me this year."
Do you like that?
"I do. Regardless of anything, it's a fresh start with a coach that I'm familiar with and had my best years under, so I'm excited and I'm looking forward to it."
Have you talked to Lemaire since he was hired?
How is your ankle?
"It's good. It took me right through the summer to get it back where I need it to be. I worked on it. It's a non-issue."
Do you have to focus on that any more?
"No. I just tried to prepare myself the same way I prepared the last 10 years."
Do you have any bitterness over what you went through last season?
"You know what? I don't right now have any bitterness. It was what it was. I'm past that now and looking forward to a fresh start. Certainly, I didn't think it would be anything like it was last year. But all of those things make you stronger. It's a journey along the way. I'm looking forward to a fresh start with a coach that I had my best years with."
What about Lemaire's style fits you well?
"I don't think it's necessarily his style that fits me. I just think that he gave me responsibility. Last year, I didn't feel like I was given much responibility. At the beginning of the season, it started off great, but after my injury I didn't feel like I was put into positions to succeed. And I'm just looking forward to that. You know? To have that opportunity. I believe that's why I was brought here in the first place. I'm just excited about it. I'm excited about being with Jacques and (assistant coach) Mario (Tremblay), guys that I spent probably the majority of my career playing for."
Do you expect to get a chance to play on the first line?
"You know, here's the deal. We talked about this at the beginning of last year when I was supposed to come in and be the first-line center. The fact of the matter is Travis...I believe that Zach is one of the best players in the league. Those guys (Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner) are our first line. They were our first line last year. I don't know how Jacques is going to do it. A lot of times he'd split guys up to make sure everybody was going. Not that I'm saying that's going to happen, but I believe that was our first line. I'm just going to try to contribute the way I have in the past. I want to get back to 30 goals and I want to contribute to the team. That's the most important thing to me right now. Not scoring 30, but I need to get back to that. For us to be successful, I believe I have to get back there and I think I will."
Do you expect a head-to-head competition with Langenbrunner for the spot on that line?
"No. I can't sit here and say what the lines are going to be because Jacques may come in and change everything. So, I'm not looking to have any head-to-head competition. I just want to go out and play well and be given responsibility to play in situations that I played in in the past. That's it. Those guys (Parise, Zajac and Langenbrunner) were fantastic for us last year and I truly believe that Zach, he's up there with the biggest names in this league. They're all good players. I'm excited to be a part of the team."
What would it mean to the team if you were able to get back to 30 goals?
"Well, you know, you lose Brian Gionta, who scored a conistent 20. Obviously, he had 48 one year. But we're in a position that we're going to need the goals. We're going to have our top guys doing what they do and I just want to get back to being a consistent player and contribute. I think to have more goals is going to help and that's what I'm going to be shooting for."
Can you play either wing?
"Yeah. You know what? I respect Jacques to the extent that I do and wherever he wants me to play, he's going to put me in a position to succeed, hopefully. I don't care left or right (wing). What I prefer is left. But I'm going to let the coach makes those decisions. Most importantly, I'm looking for a new start on a new staff."