If you thought that a veteran hockey player who spent 6 seasons in New Jersey including one which saw him score the Stanley Cup winning goal would both understand and respect the type of organization put in place by Lou Lamoriello and more importantly what it means to be a New Jersey Devil...
If you hoped that someone with so much experience, so much history with the Devils, and someone who is supposedly such good friends with core players like Patrik Elias would have the competency to differentiate between a team that is constantly embarrassing (like the New York Islanders) and a fluke of a season...
Then like me you probably felt stabbed in the back when reading the quotes Jason Arnott gave to Tom Gulitti yesterday about his future in New Jersey.
As one of the seemingly rare Jamie Langenbrunner supporters on this blog seeing his departure yesterday coupled with Arnott's blatant advertisement of himself to other teams was a one-two punch to the stomach that marked one of the gloomiest days for me to be a Devils fan in a season where only months ago I could never have imagined experiencing even if the Devils had played to the lower end of their pre-season expectations.
"I’ve never been in this situation before," he said. "I didn’t really want to be in this situation. I came here to try and win and be in the playoffs." - Jason Arnott
"..of course, I’d love to play in the playoffs and help another team win, but we’ll see what happens." - Jason Arnott
Source for quotes: Tom Gulitti's Fire and Ice Brodeur wants to be part of winning Devils’ team in 2011-12; Arnott likely to be moved, too
The Devils are not going to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, ending an incredible streak in which they only trail the Detroit Red Wings and sit comfortably ahead of the 3rd place team in this category by 7 whole consecutive post-season appearances.
Arnott obviously knows this statistic and alluded to it in his quotes to the media when he decided to come back to the Devils this past summer. So what is going through his head and why has he put himself in a position where his fellow teammates and team management now know he wants nothing to do with New Jersey after just one failed season? Arnott, 36, conceivably has more years in his tank at the NHL level. His comments should all but kill any chance he has at ever resigning with the Devils. Why would he do this? I can only surmise that he feels either he wasn't going to be resigned this summer or that the Devils are going to continue to struggle in the seasons to come and that by the time we turn this ship around he will be out of the NHL.
Truth be told Arnott has dogged it for the entire season and should put at least an equal share of the blame on his own shoulders for the miserable results the team has had this season. He was brought in not only for his veteran presence and supposed lingering offensive abilities but also for his size. Despite this Jason has not thrown his body around nor stuck up for teammates or the team even once throughout this disastrous season. Although he started off strong and was one of the few bright spots for the Devils early on, he was merely in the right place at the right time for most of his goals this year.
There's no denying the fact that he still has a rocket of a shot. However his effort level and his showing of commitment to this team has been nothing short of abysmal. All of these factors added together coupled with his quotes to Gulitti show a player who is no longer concerned about the regular season during his dying years as a player.
If Arnott could have it his way, and if you re-watch the games from this year you'll notice, he would take off every other shift during every game in the regular season just so that he could save up energy for the post season. This was not a year where the Devils were strong enough or in good enough shape as a whole to drag along non-team players like Arnott who expect everyone else to put in more effort so that he can save his for later.
No matter what team Arnott ends up on and I desperately hope he is on another one soon; they'll notice in due time the shortfalls of a veteran player who needs to have everything going perfectly for him to succeed. A player and supposed leader, who at the sight of even uncharacteristic struggle, turns his back on management, his teammates, and ultimately us the fans.
Jason Arnott, thanks for kicking us while we're down. Enjoy your time on another team and the rest of your career as a non-Devil. Time will show that this season was a massive fluke, and I for one will be keeping my fingers crossed that your minimalistic effort has the same effect on whatever team you end up on. And most importantly, that the Devils show next year how big of a mistake you made by giving up so soon and failing to even entertain the possibility of being resigned.