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Saturday, February 25, 2012
Zidlicky requested trade to New Jersey.

By Katie Strang

Newly-acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky got only two hours of sleep Friday night following his whirlwind commute from Dallas to Minneapolis to Newark following Friday's trade that sent three players and two picks back to the Minnesota Wild.

But after skating with new club Saturday morning, the 35-year-old veteran sounded glad to be in New Jersey after a tenuous season with Minnesota.

Zidlicky, who was vocal in his unhappiness under Minnesota's first-year coach Mike Yeo in recent weeks, said he requested a trade from Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and New Jersey was his first choice.

"I like Jersey," said Zidlicky, who is friends with Devils forwards and fellow Czech natives Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. "I like how they play the game, they have a lot of skill players and they're a pretty good team -- we're a pretty good team. I believe they can play good hockey. Guys showed that early in the season."

After being scratched for three games straight last month, Zidlicky was publicly critical of his ice time and role within Yeo's system. He was benched again last week once rumors surfaced that he waived his no-trade clause to come to New Jersey.

"It wasn't easy season. That's why I asked for a trade," Zidlicky said, "What happened, happened and I'm here right now. I try to focus just on hockey and the Devils."

Zidlicky said the decision to request a trade was a tough one; he has spent the past three-plus seasons with the Wild and has a seven-year-old son, Adam, in school back in Minneapolis.

"If you're somewhere for four years, it's like your home," Zidlicky said. "But you feel sometimes you have to change something."

Devils coach Pete DeBoer he plans to play Zidlicky Sunday against Tampa Bay. Rookie defenseman (back) Adam Larsson practiced again Saturday but is a game-time decision.

"Nothing but positive," DeBoer said of the reviews he's heard from Dave Barr and Jacques Lemaire. "Real competitor, can move pucks, can help out on the power-play and everyone feels he'll be a good addition."