There was a time where the New Jersey Devils were somewhat of a feeder team for the New York Rangers.
Instead of paying up for the home-grown players, who became free-agents, then-general manager Lou Lamoriello just simply allowed them to go to through the Lincoln Tunnel and take James Dolan’s millions.
Frankly, those were the right moves, as the signings of Bobby Holik and Scott Gomez were complete and utter disasters on Broadway. But that didn’t stop Glen Sather, who continued to buy Devils high in order just to see them wilt under the bright lights.
So when Patrik Elias became a free agent after the 2006 season, he also seemed destined to move to the 212 area code, and even reached a verbal agreement with the Blueshirts, which eventually fell through because of a no-movement clause.
New York’s loss was New Jersey’s gain as Elias then re-signed with the Devils for seven years and $42 million.
Ironically, it was the one move Sather should have made, because Elias would have fit in extremely well on the left side of Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander. It would have given the Rangers a great top line.
You also have to wonder if the Rangers would have gone after Gomez or Chris Drury the next season if Elias signed with the Rangers. They may not have had the cap room for one or both of them.
But instead Elias stayed in New Jersey, which ultimately became the right move for both Elias and New Jersey. With a career line of 408 goals and 617 assists, Elias was a model of consistency for his entire career.
He was also a very classy player, who was always very open to talking to the press. He made our life much, much easier.
On Saturday, No. 26 will skate pre-game the last time in a Devils uniform and No. 26 will be retired next season by the Devils, becoming the first forward to have that honor in Newark.
It all came down to a no-movement clause. Sather didn’t give it to him, while Lamoriello did.
In the end, the Devils won because of it.