NJ Devils prepare to take to the ice for the first time in almost a year
The 2021 NHL season begins this week and it will be the first time the New Jersey Devils will be on the ice in almost a year.
March 10, 2020 was the last time that the Devils took to the ice and a lot has changed in the franchise since then, including the coaching staff.
“I think what I’ve done is I’ve stepped a little bit outside of my comfort zone of myself and welcomed the opportunity to work with guys that brought ideas from different areas,” says head coach Lindy Ruff.
The NHL veteran was hired in July to take over the team that finished last in its division and was not part of the league’s return to play over the summer. Ruff takes over a roster that includes young talent like Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. He says that all his players are itching to compete again.
“Although it’s only been a couple of weeks, they’re ready to go to work for real. They are probably a little bit tired of practice, a little bit tired of video review and they just want to play a real game,” Ruff says.
“Three hundred days. It’s a lot of days to go in between games,” says Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. “It’s not something that a lot of people have gone through in their career.”
As the team tries to shake off the rust and adapt to playing in a pandemic, Palmieri, a former St. Peter’s Prep star, says that the team’s energy and momentum will have to come from the guys on the bench and on the ice.
“I think we’re looking forward to the challenge of that and it will definitely be different dropping the puck on your home opener with no fans in the stands, but it’s hockey. It’s the game we love to play and we’re looking forward to getting back into it,” Palmieri says.
The Devils open the 2021 season Thursday night against the Bruins. The game begins at 7 p.m.
NHL teams had to make their final roster cuts by Tuesday. The season officially begins on Wednesday.