Rich Teams Welcome Devils to ''The Club''
The New Jersey Devils have been known as the low-budget team to be very successful. Can GM Lou Lamoriello run this team with a low-budget?
Mark Everson of the NYPost reports:July 1, 2002 —
That raised bar Lou Lamoriello talks about demands he sign Bobby Holik, a brand-new unrestricted free agent today, and Tony Amonte, too. That raised bar also demands he raise his payroll to an astounding $60 million, a radical shift in philosophy.
It is unlikely that the Devils’ GM will manage either signing, but such failure will leave his once-proud team facing the prospect of missing the playoffs altogether. Even with Holik, they barely managed to make postseason after firing Larry Robinson, and only lasted six games before going out in the first round, prompting yet another coaching change.
Lamoriello’s payroll for the upcoming season already stands at a stunning $44.2 million before adding salaries for Holik (unrestricted), Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Jamie Langenbrunner, Sergei Nemchinov (unrestricted), Jay Pandolfo and Stephane Richer (unrestricted), all of whom are unsigned. This will be the season when the $7.6 million and $7.5 million salaries of Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens kick in, with Joe Nieuwendyk earning $5 million.
Lamoriello will surely have to pay Holik $8 million a year to keep him, which immediately puts the Devils over the $50 million mark. He never replaced Alexander Mogilny after going to the Finals two straight years with the winger, and without him, the Devils floundered for lack of scoring. It will take some $7 million a year to have a shot at Amonte or Teemu Selanne, assuming that Bill Guerin’s final indifferent days in New Jersey assure he won’t be back.
Those two signings would push the Devils to the brink of a $60 million payroll, and signing Elias, Gomez, Langenbrunner, Pandolfo and a backup goalie would surely burst them above that mark.
Signing only Holik would not seem to be enough, given the example of last year. If he doesn’t get a gunner, too, Lamoriello might as well save his Holik money.
Holik has listed several factors as crucial in his decision where to play next year: salary, term, Stanley Cup chances, organizational competence, and suitability for his family.
He would not respond when asked if he believes the Devils can compete for the Cup next year if he’s in their lineup.
“The choice I make will probably answer a lot of questions,” Holik said.
He does not rule out re-signing with the Devils.
“I know what I’m going to get: a first-class organization. That could be a deciding factor,” Holik said.