NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello is dismissing talk that the last-place team is in a rebuilding phase, despite the trade of captain Jamie Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars for a conditional third-round draft pick Friday.
“I despise the word ‘rebuilding,'” Lamoriello said in a conference call. “We have to look at the reasons why we’re in this position. Maybe it’s talent. Maybe it’s chemistry. We have to be very careful and look at the big picture.”
Lamoriello did not rule out future deals, but did emphatically deny any thoughts of trading all-star goaltender Martin Brodeur, who has been a career-long Devil and led the franchise to three Stanley Cup titles.
“No,” was the one-word response Lamoriello gave when asked about the possibility. “But there could be more deals. We’re making every decision to push ourselves forward and get out of what we’re in right now.”
Lamoriello said that there was no subliminal reason why Langenbrunner was dealt, although Langenbrunner and coach Jacques Lemaire have had their differences in the past.
“With the status of our payroll, we were not going to re-sign Jamie next year,” Lamoriello said. “We want to see some of our younger players and Jamie doesn’t deserve to be in a role of being less important in terms of ice time. It has nothing to do with Jamie as a person or a player. Our relationship has been upfront and forward. I don’t have any issues with Jamie.”
Langenbrunner came to the Devils in March of 2002, along with Joe Nieuwendyk, in a trade with the Stars that sent Jason Arnott, Randy McKay and a first-round draft pick to Dallas. Langenbrunner was a key member of the Devils’ last Stanley Cup team in 2003. Ironically, Arnott is now back with the Devils and Langenbrunner heads back to Dallas, where he’s reunited with Nieuwendyk, now the Stars general manager.
The teams also have a history on the ice. In 2000, Arnott scored in double overtime of Game 6, as New Jersey defeated Dallas in the Stanley Cup final.
To complete the deal, Langenbrunner, who was the American captain at the Vancouver Olympics, waived his no-trade clause.
“Any time you are a player involved in the business side of the NHL you are going to have some have mixed emotions,” Langenbrunner said on his own website. “I am leaving a first-class organization that has been like a family for the last ten years. This organization’s success over the past ten years would be envied by most in the NHL community. But on the other hand, I am fortunate to be returning to another first-class organization with Dallas.”
The Devils will receive a second-round pick in the 2012 draft if the Stars advance one round in the NHL playoffs, or if Langenbrunner re-signs with Dallas. If he chooses to go elsewhere, the Devils receive a third-round selection.
Langenbrunner, 35, scored 142 goals in his nine seasons with New Jersey, including a career-high 29 two years ago. But he scored only four goals and registered 10 assists in 31 games this year. His salary stands at $2.8 million for this season. He had been the team’s captain since December of 2007.
Lamoriello said that no move was made to replace Langenbrunner as captain. He was held out of Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Philadelphia, while the deal was being finalized.
“There’s never a trade that’s easy,” Lamoriello said. “He was a big part of our success, but this was a decision that was made for the right reasons. The timing is never right, but we’re going through a situation here that none of us are accustomed to.”
The Devils own the NHL’s worst record at 10-28-2.