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Sykora signs with Devils

Ex-Devil officially set for second stint in New Jersey

Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 3:58 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Sykora signs with Devils
Sykora returns to the Devils. (Getty/NHL Images)
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So much for being a long shot. After coming to camp as a tryout and showcasing his scoring touch, Petr Sykora is a Devil once again.

He returns to the team that drafted him 18th overall in 1995, nearly 10 years after his last game with New Jersey.

“It was a long shot when I got here,” Sykora said. “I believed in it. I got a lot of help from a lot of different guys. I got to play with great players who really helped me to be successful. I tried to work my best, tried to use my strengths. I’m very, very happy with what happened. I’m excited to be here. It’s really exciting.”

He split last season between the Czech league and the KHL and thought he’d give the NHL one last try. He said from the start of camp that he only wanted to be in New Jersey, then opened some eyes with a hat trick in the first scrimmage.

He wound up on the right side with Zach Parise and former linemate Patrik Elias, and tied for the team lead in preseason goals (2) and points (3). 

“He scores,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “It’s no secret we were the lowest scoring team in the League last year. This is a guy that’s come in and he’s managed to create offense and create it consistently through training camp and exhibition. He’s got the skills to do that. He’s done it in the past and we’re hoping he’s got another year in him, at least, here.”

But even a shot with the top line didn’t get Sykora thinking too far ahead.

“I just believed that Lou [GM Lamoriello] was going to make me an offer, and he did,” he said. “I’m very happy it worked out and I’m thrilled I’m here.”

With the roster set to be finalized Wednesday in preparation for Saturday's home opener, Sykora arrived to find his number had changed to 15 from 40. Keeping the right mindset was key.

“I think my attitude was good, coming in with a smile, working hard, playing with good players,” he said. “I’m not a flying guy out there. I think I have good hockey sense, I think I’m smart, I try to play the system, and when I’m in good position, I think I can score some goals. You just have to look at yourself as a player and try to use your strengths as much as possible where you can kind of separate yourself from other guys who are trying out, too.”

DeBoer spoke often at camp about the need for players to stand out from the rest of the group with hard work and determination. Sykora, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, including 2000 with the Devils, did just that.

“He came in as a later addition to camp and Lou, obviously, had a history with him here,” DeBoer said. "I went in with pretty much small expectations about what I was going to see and he surprised us. But that’s what you have to do in training camp. That’s how you earn a job.”

Above all, Sykora, who still spends offseasons in the Garden State, feels good to be back.

"This is home for me," he said. "I've been coming to New Jersey every single summer. I have a lot of friends here. You should see my iPhone yesterday, the messages I was getting from so many people. I know a lot of people here. I got a lot of support – I think that's one of the reasons it kind of went the way it did, because I have a lot of support here in New Jersey, so many people cheering for me and making it easier for me to go throughout the camp and not worry about anything else but hockey."

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51

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