Lou Lamoriello may have finally realized this New Jersey Devils season is lost.
With his team sitting dead last in the league, Lamoriello approached captain Jamie Langenbrunner about waiving his no-trade clause. That discussion led to the captain being scratched for tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The news of any potential trade overshadowed the game tonight. The Flyers defeated the Devils, 4-2, to extend New Jersey's losing streak to three straight games.
Before the game, Lamoriello approached head coach Jacques Lemaire and told him Langenbrunner wouldn't play.
"The only thing I know is before the game by Lou (Lamoriello) told me that Jamie won't be playing," Lemaire told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "That's all I know. Then, I put another guy on the line."
Dainius Zubrus replaced Langenbrunner and put New Jersey ahead, 1-0, in the first period. Anton Volchenkov fired a shot from the point that Zubrus deflected past Brian Boucher for his fifth goal of the season.
Patrik Elias, who earned an assist on the goal, moved past John MacLean as the team's all-time leader in points against the Flyers with 65 (27 goals, 38 assists).
The weird bounces at the Prudential Center worked against the Devils in the second period.
Ville Leino fired a puck hard off the end boards and it caromed to Hedberg's left. The Devils' goalie went out to play the puck, but it went past him and directly to Scott Hartnell. The Flyers' forward backhanded the puck into the net for his 11th goal of the season.
"I haven't seen anything like it," Hedberg told Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. "It came out faster than it came in. It's not supposed to come back out at that angle.
"There I am again. Toast. It makes me very hesitant to play the puck right now. Maybe I shouldn't play it at all and stay in the net."
David Clarkson restored the Devils lead with 2:20 remaining. Andy Greene sent a long pass to Clarkson, who skated past Sean O'Donnell. The Devils' right-winger fought through an O'Donnell hook to roof the puck over Boucher's glove. The puck bounced off the back bar and out of the net so quickly that referees didn't rule on the shot.
During a stoppage, the referees reviewed the puck and credited Clarkson with his fifth goal of the season and first since November 24.
Hartnell struck again for the Flyers, tying the game, 2-2, with 1:06 left in the period. Leino fed a pass to the front of the net that Hartnell put past Hedberg for his second goal of the period.
Then Daniel Briere took over.
Briere snapped the 2-2 tie with a powerplay goal at 2:48 of the third period. Leino recorded his third assist of the night when his right circle pass went off of Travis Zajac and right to Briere in the slot. The Flyers' forward fired a quick shot past Hedberg's glove for his 19th of the season.
Briere stretched the lead to 4-2 at 12:34 of the period. Briere attempted to pass the puck to Hartnell, but it deflected off of Colin White and past Hedberg for his second of the game.
Even after the loss, the focus was on Langenbrunner. The captain's equipment remained in his stall after the game, and there was no word on potential moves.
Langenbrunner's teammates didn't want to comment on the situation until they knew the situation.
"I can't really comment on whats going on," Zajac told Gulitti. "All of us don't know. Whether he's here or not, it's important for us to continue to play hard and try to find ways to win. Obviously, he's a big piece of the team, but it's a chance for someone else to come in and step up."
"It's part of hockey," Clarkson said to Gulitti. "You see guys come and go. It would be weird personally I think because I do look up to Jamie. There's always things you learn from teammates. You always look up to certain guys.
"I tried to pick up little things (from) the way that he played. Personally, it's something you don't want to happen. I understand it's part of the business. I think he's a great leader and who knows what will happen? But he will be missed if that does happen."
A trade of Langenbrunner may set in motion other deals to clean house, something Devils players aren't used to seeing.
"Things are tough here. It wouldn't surprise me," Clarkson told Gulitti. "It's a tough question. I don't know what house cleaning is. I'm sure Mr. Lamoriello is doing what he can to sort this out and fix whatever our problem is."
Out of a possible 80 points, the Devils have 22...Tonight's loss left the Devils still searching for their first win of 2011...Leino recorded his first three-point game tonight...Briere was injured during the second period, but came back in the same period.