By John Schweibacher
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The “New” New Jersey Devils begin the 2015-16 season Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets at Prudential Center.
Ray Shero is the team’s new executive vice president and general manager, following the departure of Lou Lamoriello, who had run the organization since April of 1987. He is now the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
John Hynes is the Devils’ new head coach. Hynes, who did not play in the NHL, was the head coach of the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins the last five seasons and will be behind a NHL bench for the first time. The only other rookie head coach without NHL playing experience in Devils’ history was Doug Carpenter, who led New Jersey from 1984-85 through 1986-87. Hynes, at 40 years old, is the youngest coach in the league, but he is not the youngest head coach in club history.
Here’s a list, with age on date of first game as Devils head coach:
· Jim Schoenfeld — 35 years, 4 months
· Bill MacMillan — 39 years, 6 months
· John Hynes — 40 years, 8 months
· Doug Carpenter — 42 years, 3 months
· Kevin Constantine — 43 years, 1 month
· Peter DeBoer — 43 years, 3 months
Among the Devils’ new acquisitions at forward are former Anaheim Ducks right wing Kyle Palmieri, who was raised in New Jersey, well-traveled right wing Lee Stempniak, who made the team after as a training camp tryout, and left wing Jiri Tlusty, who split last season with Carolina and Winnipeg.
Palmieri scored 43 goals and had 89 points in his five seasons with Anaheim. Four other former Devils had at least 89 career points with the Ducks:
· Scott Niedermayer — 60 goals, 264 points
· Oleg Tverdovsky — 45, 170
· Petr Sykora — 64, 131
· Rob Niedermayer — 56, 124
· Kyle Palmieri — 43, 89
Stempniak, who has 165 goals and 369 points in 708 career games, will be with his eighth club when he makes his debut for New Jersey. Six former Devils have played for at least nine different NHL teams:
· Jim Dowd (10 — NJD, Vancouver, NY Islanders, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, Montreal, Chicago, Colorado and Philadelphia)
· Brent Ashton (9 — Vancouver, Colorado, NJD, Minnesota, Quebec, Detroit, Winnipeg, Boston and Calgary)
· Reid Simpson (9 — Philadelphia, Minnesota, NJD, Chicago, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Montreal, Nashville and Pittsburgh)
· Dean McAmmond (9 — Chicago, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Calgary, Colorado, St. Louis, Ottawa, NY Islanders and NJD)
· Jim McKenzie (9 — Hartford, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Phoenix, Anaheim, Washington, NJD and Nashville)
· Sean Burke (9 — NJD, Hartford, Carolina, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Florida, Phoenix, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles)
Tlusty has 87 goals and 173 points in eight NHL seasons, and since 2012-13 is tied for the eighth most multiple-goal games by any player:
· Alex Ovechkin — 30
· Max Pacioretty — 19
· Joe Pavelski — 18
· Corey Perry — 17
· Steven Stamkos — 17
· Rick Nash — 15
· Tyler Seguin — 15
· Jamie Benn — 14
· Zach Parise — 14
· Jiri Tlusty — 14
The Devils also added former Rangers defenseman John Moore this offseason, signing the free agent who finished 2014-15 with the Arizona Coyotes. Moore played 125 regular season games for the Rangers over the previous three seasons. Six defensemen have played at least 40 career games for both the Rangers and Devils:
· Bruce Driver — 702 (with NJD), 220 (with NYR)
· Joe Cirella — 438, 141
· Carol Vadnais — 51, 485
· Karel Rachunek — 47, 78
· Vladimir Malakhov — 46, 211
· Steve Richmond — 44, 77
New Jersey will host Winnipeg in its season opener. The only other time the Devils began the season against the Thrashers/Jets franchise was back on Oct. 2, 1999, when they defeated Atlanta, 4-1, at Philips Arena. Bobby Holik scored twice, Krzysztof Oliwa had a goal and an assist, and Sergei Brylin scored as well as the Devils began what would be a Stanley Cup-winning season with a victory.
Minus: The Devils will start the season without the club’s all-time leading scorer, Patrik Elias, who missed all of training camp and the preseason with a sore right knee.
Plus: New Jersey announced Tuesday it will be retiring Martin Brodeur’s number 30 prior to its Feb. 9 game against Edmonton and the NHL’s all-time leader in wins will also be getting a statue outside of Prudential Center.