Home > Analysis > Lamoriello: “We Have To Work Our Way Out Of It”

Lamoriello: “We Have To Work Our Way Out Of It”

Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello spoke to the media today, and while he didn’t give many straight answers, one thing was clear.

Lamoriello has no intentions of making changes to the team. Instead, the Devils general manager wants the team to dig out of their own hole.

Devils' general manager Lou Lamoriello believes the current group of coaches and players need to climb out of the season-long slump. Photo Credit: Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger

“I don’t think anybody feels good about the way we stand and right now,” Lamoriello said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, ” [but] it’s not something that anybody is going to panic about. We, very simplistically, have to work our way out of it. We can’t just do it by hard work. We have to not worry about anything other than what our roles are and do it together.”

“We’re staying on our course,” the Devils general manager said. “You can take that and go whatever way you want to go. We’re here today every one of us. This is our team. Right now what we have to do is look at today. Look at what we can do today to get better and prepared to play against Ottawa. As far as anything else, to me, it’s all speculation.”

The last quote directly contradicts what captain Jamie Langenbrunner said after Monday’s loss to Pittsburgh. When reacting to the loss, Langenbrunner said that any changes made should occur with the players and not head coach John MacLean.

“That’s the furthest thing (that should happen),” Langenbrunner said to Gulitti Monday night. “I would hope that it’s not the angle. That doesn’t deserve to happen. It’s in this room and it should be one of us.”

For the immediate future, the Devils will need to depend on each other to break their season long slump. Lamoriello’s quotes shows two things about the current situation. The first seems to be that his hands are tied. New Jersey has nine players with no movement clauses, making it extremely difficult to move contracts and create much needed cap space.

Lamoriello’s quotes also show the inability to replace MacLean with a better coaching candidate. When he fires coaches, Lamoriello usually heads down from his office and coaches the team. But he’s shown no willingness to make that commitment, and his quotes suggest he can’t find another person to do better than MacLean.

There are, of course, several issues with depending on the current Devils roster to break the slump. The players haven’t shown much fight or the ability to give a consistent effort for multiple games in a row. The losses, and the pressure that comes with each game, seem to be weighing on the team. MacLean, who is usually upbeat, hasn’t been the happiest person. Players noticed the change in demeanor.

“I think his demeanor towards us has been, unfortunately, pretty much the same all the way through,” Martin Brodeur told Gulitti. “We didn’t give him a chance to maybe be himself. I think he just had to try to push the right buttons here and there and try to be the guy that’s going to change it up. It’s hard when you’re always chasing your tail a little bit. And that’s the situation that we’re in. With Johnny, we had so many great expectations during the season that everybody was looking forward to being coached by him and it being fun. And now he has to be a certain way.”

For more, continue reading after the jump.

Devils' goalie Martin Brodeur admitted the stress of losing has affected the mood of everyone in the locker room. Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images

The pressure of losing also changed the demeanor of players. Brodeur, who’s known as one of the more upbeat players on the team, admitted he didn’t know the appropriate time to joke around or have fun anymore.

“I try to be as much as I can, but it’s kind of hard because there’s always people looking at you—not necessarily people from the outside, but the inside—(and thinking) just like, ‘Does he really care?’” Brodeur said. “Before I never thought about that. It was just me and most of the time we’ll get out of it and we’ll win. Now, I’m trying my best, but there’s a time and a place for everything now that you pick and choose what you do. Compared to before, you just reacted. It’s a little strange for me because hockey is supposed to be fun. I’m playing hockey because it’s fun.”

There are several issues holding this team back, but frustration may undermine Lamoriello’s thought process. As Brodeur explicitly said, guys in the locker room aren’t having fun. Players are stressed and frustrated, which makes being normal difficult on a daily basis. It almost seems like fun is the furthest of adjectives you could use to describe the Devils locker room environment.

It hasn’t been easy, but the current players and coaches will need to get out of their own hole. For a reference, the team only needs to look back two weeks. They won three of four games, including the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey finally seemed to hit its stride and looked to be finally cashing in on their potential. The effort, however, ended after a loss to Montreal on Thursday, December 2.

The Devils players and coaches are on this sinking ship together. The only way to save themselves is to right the ship. They’ve started already, skating hard in practice and getting back to basics. The team needs to now put everything together on the ice. As Lamoriello said, the team will have to work their way out of it themselves.

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