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MacLean ready, eager as camp approaches

Tuesday, 09.7.2010 / 3:59 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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MacLean ready, eager as camp approaches
MacLean ready to tackle first year behind N.J. bench.
Veterans report to training camp in 10 days, and John MacLean is practically counting down the hours.

He knew he was taking over a two-time defending division champion when he was introduced as the Devils’ new head coach in June. What was still unknown as of last Friday, however, was whether or not he’d have Ilya Kovalchuk in the fold when Jersey’s Team bids for its third straight Atlantic Division crown.

That piece of the puzzle was finalized Saturday morning, when the NHL approved Kovalchuk’s long-term contract to remain in New Jersey.

“I’m fired up,” MacLean told newjerseydevils.com on Tuesday. “I’m so excited right now to get going. It’s getting closer and closer and you’re anxious to get going. I’m looking forward to the start of everything.”

The League had rejected an earlier Kovalchuk deal in July for circumventing the salary cap. The rejection was upheld by an arbitrator, making Kovalchuk a free agent once again on Aug. 9. He signed a second deal on Aug. 27 that was given the OK after the League and the NHLPA negotiated amendments to the collective bargaining agreement.

“I’m glad I didn’t have to go through it,” said a relieved MacLean. “But you know what, it was done at the right time in the summer and now he can focus all his energies on playing hockey.”

The 2010-11 Devils will have three 40-goal forwards in the mix. Patrik Elias, who scored 40 in 2000-01, centered Kovalchuk last season, but that might change with the offseason acquisition of center Jason Arnott.

Kovalchuk has tallied six straight seasons with 40-or-more goals. Factor in Zach Parise (45 in 2008-09) and that wealth of talent becomes a nice problem for a rookie coach to have.

“We were thinking of lines even when it was unofficial because it was a possibility,” MacLean said. “The [offseason] line juggling is going to happen every day, but it is nice  to have a player of his caliber that you’re able to slot in somewhere. We’ll see when training camp opens where he goes.”

With Kovalchuk’s future no longer in question, MacLean has a clearer vision for what lies ahead.

“I’m excited about it like I was about it when we initially announced that he was going to part of the team,” he said. “I’m sure it gives peace of mind to him and also for us to get ready for the season. We’re looking forward to him being a big part of the team and the organization.”

As the ramp-up to the season continues, MacLean’s coaching staff, with assistants Larry Robinson and Adam Oates, is already hard at work. The Devils open the regular season at Prudential Center against Dallas on Oct. 8.

“We’re watching video day to day and talking,” MacLean said. “The coaching staff is coming in now, so we’re all just getting together. We want to get off on the right foot and get our energies directed in the right way. It’s positive, exciting and we’re looking forward to a good, productive year.”

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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