Devils sign Mair, assign Leblond to AHL
Volchenkov, Rolston remain sidelined
|Mair has found a new home in New Jersey.|
"It's exciting to be a part of this team, this organization now," Mair said. "I'm looking forward to being able to contribute and help. My family and I are very happy."
Mair, 31, spent the past seven seasons with Buffalo and will make his Devils debut against his ex-mates. The Sabres are 1-2-0 after a 4-3 loss to Chicago on Monday.
"It will be nice to go back there and play those guys," he said. "They're a little desperate, we're desperate for a win. It should be a good game."
Mair came to training camp as a tryout and continued practicing with the Devils after the start of the regular season. The versatile forward recorded two goals in five preseason contests. He had six goals, eight assists in Buffalo last season, his 10th in the League.
"I think it was a positive sign that I was still here once the season started," he said. "The indications were that up to this point, they've liked the way I played. I was glad to have it done sooner rather than later, definitely. Now that's behind me, it's just each day forward working toward the common goal of the team."
Head coach John MacLean sees a utility role for Mair, who skated Monday on a third-line grouping with David Clarkson, Rod Pelley and Dainius Zubrus.
"He's versatile and with what we have right now, a guy like him is good because of his versatility," MacLean said. "He can play center, he can play right wing, he can play left wing. He kills penalties. We need that right now."
Brian Rolston (groin) and Anton Volchenkov (broken nose, stiff neck) remain sidelined. Rolston is seeking a secondary opinion from a Philadelphia specialist, while Volchenkov will be “unavailable” this week, according to Devils’ President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello.
The Devils (0-2-1) had 15 skaters – nine forwards and six defensemen – in Monday’s 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh. Rolston and Volchenkov were both injuried at Saturday’s loss at Washington. Volchenkov was struck in the face by a Nicklas Backstrom slapshot.
“Anton will not be available certainly for the rest of the week,” Lamoriello said. “His neck is extremely stiff from the blow that he got.”
Regarding Rolston, Lamoriello said: “We will have information once he sees the doctor.”
Letourneau-Leblond missed the Penguins matchup to serve a League suspension for instigating in the final five minutes of Saturday’s contest. He cleared waivers Tuesday.
Lamoriello is taking a wait-and-see approach to any further roster moves.
“Right now I’m going to wait and see exactly what the status of these two players are," he said. "But I feel the team played well with the roster. There was, in my opinion, a burden on the coach and players, and it’s my responsibility to get this straightened out."
Nine forwards breaks down evenly over three lines, but a lineup of 10 forwards will require additional maneuvering.
"With penalties, different combinations are still going to be had during the game because of different situations in the game," MacLean said. "It's just kind of the flow of the game that you go with."
Despite disappointment over a winless record through three games, MacLean believes his team can get on track by playing a solid 60 minutes. After Wednesday's game in Buffalo, the Devils return for home games Friday versus Colorado (1-1-0) and Saturday versus Boston (1-1-0).
"I talked to a few guys today, no one's any different," MacLean said. "We all want to win. But we can't let frustrations get the better of us. We still have to focus in on our job at hand, and playing."
Brodeur to start vs. Sabres
With an upcoming stretch of three games in four nights, MacLean will go with Martin Brodeur against the Sabres, and could use backup Johan Hedberg to start one game of the weekend back-to-back.
"There's a chance he'll play. We'll make those decisions as we move forward," MacLean said.
He stressed the need for a complete game.
"What I would like to see is play a full 60-minute hockey game. We want to put a complete game together. That's what I'm more concerned with. The wins will come if we can play smarter and put in a full 60-minute effort."
Wednesday's game will also be a homecoming for defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who spent eight seasons with the Sabres. He departed Buffalo to sign with the Devils this summer.
"It's going to be mixed feelings," Tallinder said. "It's going to be fun and it's going to feel awkward being on the other side of everything. You look forward to it, but in one way it's awkward being on the other side."
He thought former players might have an edge when facing their old clubs.
"They're not afraid of me," he said with a laugh. "I think it's more them being afraid of what I know they're going to do. It's hockey. Anything can happen out there and it's going to be a lot of small coincidences that happen during the game, small mistakes and stuff like that. That's going to (decide) who's going to win or not."
He enjoyed his time in Buffalo.
"I was there eight years. I had the same coach, same GM, everything was the same. You get used it, but you kind of appreciate it. That's what you're used to, there were no surprises for me. You get used to it, you kind of like it. In some ways, this organization has some upsides that are way better than Buffalo, and Buffalo has its strong points as an organization, too."
ZIP Line back at practice
MacLean tinkered with his lines in the third period Monday, putting Jamie Langenbrunner on the right of Zach Parise and Travis Zajac to reunite the ZZ Pops line. He restored Ilya Kovalchuk on the right side of the top line at practice Tuesday.
Parise, Zajac, Kovalchuk exploded for five points in the season opener, led by Zajac's goal and an assist.
"First 10 minutes, they played pretty well together, so it's just a thing where we'll have to give them some time to go and play. They had a good preseason together, but we're going to give them some time together and see if they can go. I believe they will," MacLean said.