Back in the year 2000, then-Devils coach Larry Robinson came into the locker room, hot-headed and pissed off with the way his team played. The Devils, down 3-1 to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals, were one step away from elimination. Wanting to make his point known, Robinson kicked a garbage can across the locker room, hammering home his point that the Devils were better than their played showed. That moment became a famous one in Devils history, as the team turned its play around and won three straight, becoming the first team since the NHL expanded to come back from a 3-1 series deficit.
Ten years later, the Devils face the same situation. The Flyers are leading the series, 3-1, and the Devils have been outplayed in three of the four contests. Coming into tonight, the team needs to find a spark. That may have come from general manager Lou Lamoriello.
According to Star-Ledger reporter Steve Politi, Lamoriello went down to the visiting locker room after the Devils’ uninspiring 4-1 loss Tuesday night. The general manager, angry at his teams play, lit into the coaching staff. He got so angry, he picked up a jar of jelly and threw it at the wall. The jelly jar smashed, with its contents covering the locker room. While none of the players were in the room, it got Lamoriello’s message across – this is a team built for a deep playoff run, not a one-and-done playoff surprise.
It’s these moments of frustration we haven’t seen from any of the players. And, while they’ve remained largely positive, it’s refreshing to see someone in the organization get just as angry as the rest of us. But the incident differs from Robinson. Remember, Robinson did this in front of the players, getting their attention. Lamoriello did this only in front of the coaches, so it’s a smaller audience. But I think it had the same meaning. This is the head of the team. Lamoriello controls what players sit in that locker room next season. When the head man isn’t happy, no one should feel particularly comfortable.
While it didn’t have the shock factor for all of the players, this should still get the players fired up. As I said, this is the guy who controls the contracts of the players in the locker room. He expects results, and these players aren’t delivering. The Devils should make a mental note with this. Lamoriello’s anger not only affects the coaches, but it has a trickle-down effect. I would expect this to be a contributing factor to a more spirited performance tonight.
Hell, maybe if the Devils win the series, we can bookmark the “Jelly Jar” incident as another great locker-room outburst in Devils’ history.