LAS VEGAS -- Interesting dynamic Tuesday on the eve of the NHL awards as rookie of the year nominee Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils was sitting not far from Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick. The last time they would have seen each other was shaking hands after the Kings claimed their first-ever Stanley Cup with a Game 6 victory over the Devils.
It’s still a little soon for the Devils to be looking at the positives of advancing to their first final series since 2003.
“Yeah, there’s still one team ahead of us," Henrique said. "It’ll be disappointing for a while. Until you get that chance to get back and redeem yourself.
“To get so close you can taste it, you can feel it, two wins away. Now 120 games away again, so as a young guy being my first year to go that far and to play in the finals and experience it is a real learning experience for me and something I’ll never forget.”
Henrique followed up a strong rookie campaign with a solid playoff season, scoring three game winners.
Like the rest of the Devils and their fans, Henrique will be closely monitoring what happens with captain Zach Parise, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“It’s been there all year, the questions for him," Henrique said. "I’m sure they’ve always been there. He’s a huge part of our team, he’s the cornerstone and a guy that we rely on heavily. He’s a big reason why we got to the finals. So I want to see him back. I think he wants to come back and I’m sure everybody in New Jersey wants him back. Hope to see him there for camp.”
A Quick turn
As for Quick, he is in an unusual position, potentially replicating Tim Thomas’ star turn of a year ago when the Bruins netminder won the Vezina Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and the Stanley Cup. No goalie had hit for the netminding triple crown since Bernie Parent in 1975. Now Quick, who is up against Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne for the Vezina, has a chance to do it just one year later.
He admitted it has been a bit of a blur since winning the Cup.
“It is certainly a bit of a whirlwind,” Quick said. "You’re just trying to take your time and kind of enjoy as much of it as you can before it’s over. Obviously it’s one of the coolest things ever, being able to win the Cup and everything, but at this point we’re already getting our workout schedules for the summer in order. We’re already kind of starting to prepare for next year. But I don’t know if it fully has sunk in yet. It’s been amazing."
Weber avoids spotlight
Following the Nashville Predators’ disappointing loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in the second round of the playoffs, Norris Trophy nominee and Preds captain Shea Weber said he’s been keeping a pretty low profile.
He returned to his summer home in Kelowna, British Columbia, and thanks to unpleasant weather has been housebound for much of the time.
“It was tough this year I think with all the recognition we had,” he said. "A lot of people in Canada knew how close we were and how much of a chance we had this year, so it’s tough to go home and hear from a lot of people, so I just kind of stay to myself."
A year ago Weber, who can become a restricted free agent this July, was in the midst of a surprising arbitration case with the Predators. This summer has been a lot calmer, he said.
Last summer “didn’t go as anyone planned or wanted, so I think this year we’re on the same page. I think we know kind of where each other is headed and what the goals are,” Weber added.
Of course Weber will be watching what happens with longtime defense partner Ryan Suter, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“It’s his decision," Weber said. "It’s a personal thing for him and his family. Whatever he feels best for him but obviously we’d love to have him in Nashville. I’d love to play with him for as long as I could. It’s going to be obviously a period where we’re watching to see what happens, but I don’t think you can stress about it or work yourself up too much."
Weber also didn’t back off on comments he made to a Canadian radio station suggesting he felt “betrayed” by teammate Alexander Radulov, who broke curfew along with Andrei Kostitsyn during their series against Phoenix.
“It’s a tough situation," Weber said. "Obviously he can’t take back what he did, but on the other hand, I was one of the guys that stuck up for him and wanted to have him back and for something like that to happen in the playoffs in the biggest game probably of our career to that point is just disappointing. I know how good of a player he is, it just kind of wasn’t a good feeling.”
Empty locker in Detroit
Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, nominated once again for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the game’s top defensive forward, still isn’t used to the idea that he’ll report to training camp and not see No. 5 Nicklas Lidstrom in the dressing room.
He joked that it’s all a bad dream.
“Actually it’s not really good dream," Datsyuk said. "But I’m never thinking about this dream, it’s like a nightmare. I’m still not like believing that this has happened. Maybe once the season start it’ll be different story."