Arnott, Elias reunited at training camp
Former A-Line mates joined by Langenbrunner on RW
|Jason Arnott's happy to be back with Patrik Elias.|
He was granted part of that wish in June, when the Devils reacquired him in a trade with Nashville. He got the rest at training camp Saturday, when he centered a line with Elias at left wing and Jamie Langenbrunner on the right.
For the first time since 2001-02, Arnott was wearing red and black and skating with his old linemate.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long; it doesn’t feel like it’s been eight years since we played together,” Arnott said. “It felt good, it felt comfortable. We’re still having fun and it’s still the first day. We’ll see what happens during the games.”
It’s been more than a decade since Arnott and Elias combined to score the 2000 Cup-clinching goal against Dallas. In March 2002, Arnott was shipped to Dallas in the deal that brought Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk to New Jersey.
But Arnott and Elias have been talking reunion since he became a Devil again.
“When it first happened, he was the first guy I called,” Arnott said. “He was the first guy that I hoped that I’d get back to playing with. He was a big reason that I wanted to come back and play here again and, obviously, to win again. But he was a big part of it.”
Their bond isn’t just about the 2000 championship. It also has to do with the way their styles click: Elias, the gifted playmaker, and Arnott, the hard-shooting pivot.
“We complimented each other because we were two different players,” Arnott said. “We enjoyed playing with each other. We were two guys that weren’t afraid to give each other crap when we needed it. We always talked on the bench good or bad and kept in contact the whole time. Yeah, we share a special moment together winning the Cup and scoring the winning goal. That’ll never change, so it’s a combination of both.”
With their stalls on the same side of the practice locker room, it’s easy to see how close they’ve remained.
Arnott was asked if their A-Line with Petr Sykora might have been even better in today’s NHL than it was back then. Elias chimed in with his own answer: “I think that the way we played we were just creative, uptempo, and that’s the way it’s played now.”
“We probably would’ve loved to have that line back then, now,” Arnott said. “Absolutely, with the rules now?”
“A lot of give-and-go’s.”
“When you look at those games then, there’s grabbing, holding, slashing – it’s amazing,” said Elias. “You should’ve played 3-on-3 the whole game, pretty much. Obviously, you’re not allowed to do that, so you play that type of hockey, it’s even more effective [now].”
“The hacking,” Arnott continued. “You’re like, ‘There’s a penalty, there’s a penalty, there’s a penalty.’ It’s unreal. Or a hooking onto a guy and holding him all the way down.”
Then Elias again, “Dano [Ken Daneyko] could still play now. Especially because he would be fresh because he would be on the bench the whole time.”
“He would’ve been way too strong for this game now,” Arnott joked.
Their rapport being what it is, head coach John MacLean couldn’t resist trying an Arnott-Elias combination.
“They have a little chemistry together, get them back together,” MacLean said. “I think Jamie’s a nice fit with them, too. Jamie’s a worker, he works really hard, really talented. He’s talented, he’s played with talented guys before and I think we’ll see how the chemistry works with that.”
Langenbrunner, who had a career year in 2008-09 while a part of the ZZ Pops line with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, doesn’t see himself as a Sykora replacement on the A-Line 2.0.
“Hopefully we have that type of success, but I think we’re a little different types of players,” said the captain, who enjoyed the first day of what could be many more ahead with his new line.
“It’s the first day of training camp,” he said. “They put a bunch of old guys together, and it’s fun playing with those two guys.”
Jacob Josefson, the Devils’ first-round pick in 2009, centered Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson in the Group B session.
“He’s a good player, he’s had a couple of good days, but he’s there today, tomorrow he might not be,” MacLean said. “We’ll see how it transpires. He’s going to get some opportunity to show what he has.”
Zubrus liked what he saw from the 19-year-old Swede, who has a shot at an NHL roster spot this year.
“He’s a good player so they’re going to try to put him in between a couple of guys that aren’t new to this, then see how he does,” Zubrus said.
Zubrus, a former first-round pick of the Flyers, remembers breaking in with veterans at training camp.
“I went through it,” he said. “A bunch of young guys, as they come in, they eventually have to do that. So, for him, it’s an early start. It’s good.”
Zubrus doesn’t expect Josefson to have trouble keeping up. Josefson spent the last two full seasons with Djurgardens of the Swedish Elite League.
“He’s played against grown men, so he knows kind of how it is,” Zubrus said. It’s not a huge adjustment like maybe coming from Tier 2 hockey for myself and going to the NHL. It will take a little bit of time but he’s doing fine; he’s a good little player. And he’s only what, 19? So he’s going to get stronger, bigger and everything else. But even right now, for his age, he recognizes the plays, he’s poised with the puck, and he knows what’s up.”