Devils' camp opened with a surprise, as Ilya Kovalchuk started by skating on the right wing with Travis Zajac and Zach Parise. Guess that answers our previous question about the seemingly strange statement of head coach John MacLean that Patrik Elias would remain on the left wing.
Two quick reactions: First, it's true that wings move around a lot in the offensive zone and positions don't really matter as much as you might think. That said, as a right-handed shot, one of Kovalchuk's favorite moves is to skate down the left-wing boards, cut across the faceoff dots and snap off a wrister. If he's flying down the other side of the ice, that's a very different maneuver.
Second, even if the move doesn't last and Kovalchuk shifts back to the left, it shows the Devils' players that the team isn't putting Kovalchuk on a pedestal and catering to his every preference. Had the team moved Parise to right wing to open camp after moving heaven and earth (and soon a pair of players) to get Kovalchuk, the reaction from the players and the media may have been very different. Plenty more below.
Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski compares Kovalchuk's line assignment with Bobby Ryan’s shift to center in Anaheim.
GM Lou Lamoriello loves his loaded team (almost as much as I love alliteration), according to the Post.
Of course that loaded team means some of the players starting in Devils camp will finish the preseason elsewhere. The New York Times has more from the players on the upcoming roster shuffle.
Rich Chere lists five things Ilya Kovalchuk must do to justify his contract, and a three-item checklist for John MacLean as well.
Fire and Ice offers some more on MacLean’s adaptation to his new role as New Jersey’s head coach.
In Lou We Trust analyzes MacLean’s natural leadership abilities.