By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils will resume their season this week as the NHL’s Olympic break comes to an end.
Four New Jersey Devils took part in the games, but for just the second time since 1998, when the NHL first sent its players to the Olympics, none of the Devils’ representatives reached the medal stand.
Despite coming home from the Winter Olympics in Sochi without a medal, Jaromir Jagr told the Devils’ website that “it was probably the best Olympics I’ve been in. The organization, everything, was the best. The buildings, facilities, the arenas — everything was brand new. They spent a lot of money, but they did a good job.”
Jagr’s Czech Republic squad was eliminated with a 5-2 loss to the United States in the quarterfinal Round. Marek Zidlicky led the team with two goals and two assists in five games, tying teammates Ales Hemsky (three goals and an assist) and Tomas Plekanec (one goal and three assists) in points. Jagr recorded two goals and an assist in five games. Patrik Elias, who missed two games due to illness, had one assist in three games overall.
Damien Brunner and Team Switzerland lost 3-1 to Latvia in the elimination round. Brunner had no points in four games played in Sochi.
According to the NHL’s public-relations department, 63 NHL players won a medal in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and 25 of the 30 NHL clubs had at least one player earn a medal.
The Devils were one of the five clubs whose players did not medal in Sochi, joining Calgary, Columbus, Edmonton and Toronto on the outside looking in.
A pair of former New Jersey Devils, defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Johnny Oduya, won silver medals for Team Sweden. Here is the list of all the players who have won Olympic ice-hockey medals and at one time played for the Devils:
Silver: (Sweden) Henrik Tallinder and Johnny Oduya
Gold: (Canada) Martin Brodeur and Scott Niedermayer
Silver: (USA) Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski
Gold: (Sweden) Niclas Havelid
Bronze: (Czech Republic) Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky
Gold: (Canada) Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Joe Nieuwendyk and Brendan Shanahan
Silver: (USA) Bill Guerin, Mike Dunham, Phil Housley, Brian Rafalski and Brian Rolston
Bronze: (Russia) Vladimir Malakhov, Oleg Tverdovsky, Igor Larionov and Ilya Kovalchuk
Gold: (Czech Republic) Jaromir Jagr and Richard Smehlik
Silver: (Russia) Valeri Kamensky, Sergei Nemchinov and Valeri Zelepukin
Bronze: (Finland) Esa Tikkanen
Bronze: (Finland) Janne Ojanen
Gold: (Unified Team) Vladimir Malakhov
Silver: (Canada) Sean Burke
Bronze: (Czechoslovakia) Richard Smhelik
Gold: (Soviet Union) Viacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Starikov and Alexander Mogilny
Silver: (Finland) Reijo Ruotsalainen and Janne Ojanen
Gold: (Soviet Union) Viacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Starikov.
Gold: (USA) Neal Broten, Mark Johnson and Jack O’Callahan
Silver: (Soviet Union) Viacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov and Sergei Starikov
New Jersey is three points out of a playoff spot as the Olympic break comes to an end. Here is how the Devils have stood as play resumed following the four previous Winter Olympics:
• 1997-98: 34-16-6, 76 pts (1st in Eastern Conference)
went 14-7-5 rest of season, finished 1st in East
• 2001-02: 25-21-9-3, 62pts (7th in Eastern Conference)
went 16-7-0-1 rest of season, finished 6th in East
• 2005-06: 30-22-6, 66 pts (7th in Eastern Conference)
went 16-5-3 rest of season, finished 3rd in East
• 2009-10: 37-21-3, 77 pts (2nd in eastern Conference)
went 11-6-4 rest of season, finished 2nd in East
Only six teams that were out of a playoff spot at the four previous Olympic breaks were able to reach the postseason, and only one of those teams was more than three points out of a playoff berth like the Devils are now:
• 1997-98 Edmonton (1 point out in Western Conference)
• 2001-02 Montreal (2 points out in Eastern Conference)
Phoenix (1 point out in Western Conference)
• 2005-06 San Jose (6 points out in Western Conference)
Anaheim (3 points out in Western Conference)
• 2009-10 Detroit (1 point out in Western Conference)
Plus: Moose Tracks — Johan Hedberg made a cameo appearance in goal for the Devils’ AHL affiliate in Albany after being signed to a professional-tryout contract with netminder Keith Kincaid sidelined because of a groin jnjury The 40-year-old Hedberg relieved Scott Wedgewood, who allowed five goals in just over one period in an eventual 7-3 loss to Bridgeport.
Minus: Olympic Injuries — The Devils got through the Sochi games unscathed, but injuries to John Tavares, Mats Zuccarello, Paul Martin and others increase doubts about the NHL continuing to participate in future Winter Olympics.
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