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99 Reasons to bet on the Devils!

New Jersey Jive - Oct.2, 2005
article by - Harry Lipshitz, hockey reporter

99 Reasons to bet on the Devils!

I could list all the reasons why you should bet on the Devils to make a serious run for the Stanley Cup this season, but that would be pointless; because, we all know what it means to have the great one on our team now don't we?
What a difference a week makes in the NEFHL. Not only has the team made blockbuster after blockbuster trades to secure a stranglehold over Eastern Conference contendership, but GM Johnny Capone has been able to lure the great one, Wayne Gretzky, into becoming the team's head coach. Regardless of his rookie status as coach, it would be illogical to think his presence behind the bench and in the locker room would not have a huge impact on the players. Gretzky's leadership and persona are what legends are made of. The Devils now have such a legend among their ranks. Players like Kariya, Iginla, and the newly acquired Lindros have all played with the great one in some our game's most dramatic competitions, and all will agree that having Gretzky as head coach is like being spoiled at Chrismas.

Coach Gretzky will indeed have a new looking corp of players to mix and match line combinations this season. Recently, GM Johnny Capone traded away speedsters like York and Huselius in order to bring in some strength and skill in the likes of Eric Lindros and Scott Hartnell. The feeling is that New Jersey has remarkably changed the look of their team from speed and skill, to a strong and skilled team built for the grueling battles of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

One look at their roster and one will notice not only elite experience in the likes of Kariya, Lindros, and Iginla, but young skilled players in the likes of Comrie, Bouchard, Kolanos, and Hartnell. The Devils may have lost Hatcher and Chara, but can still boast on having one of the best defences in the league with the likes of Berard, Witt, Modry, Mitchell, Cross, and Zyuzin (with McCarthy and Yonkman capable of making the starting lineup too). Having a goalie who can play 60+ games is a rare find, and that is what makes Jocelyn Thibault, one of the most underated netminders, a great dependable goalie to have for a cup run.

Through bold trading and not being afraid of flirting with the cap, Johnny Capone has managed to assemble a balance of youth, experience, skill, speed, grit and toughness. Gretzky's leadership, experience, sense of offense, and being a proven winner, will only make this deadly team even better. Don't bet against #99 when all is on the line. Histor has a funny way of repeating itself some would say.

- I'm Harry Lipschitz, and you are not.