He hasn’t left yet. He never did. He still has something left in the tank and enough time left to prove it. The New Jersey Devils have four games remaining on their April slate. While it may be too late for Patrik Elias to help the Devils, it’s not too late to give him his due.
In an injury riddled season, which has seen Elias miss all but 13 contests, the Devils legend needs to be inserted back into the lineup, if he’s ready to go. If this is it for his career in New Jersey or otherwise, Elias should be on the ice and have the opportunity to be acknowledged by the Devils faithful. Conversely, should Elias want to continue his stellar career, he should be afforded the chance to show what he has left.
Elias, who has one goal and four helpers on the abbreviated campaign, is skating, testing his knee and getting back into hockey shape. Elias wants to help the Devils and in his characteristically unselfish fashion, only wants to come back if head coach John Hynes and company believe he’ll be able to contribute. Given the state of New Jersey’s scoring, perhaps Patrik is being too modest.
Long q&a with Patrik Elias after his first morning skate since December. Not ready to say goodbye yet MSG+2 6:30o ET pic.twitter.com/hGXscos2jQ
— Deb Placey (@DebPlacey) March 31, 2016
From recent comments on a possible Elias comeback, Hynes seems to concur, showing faith in the veteran forward.
Coach Hynes on the status of Patrik Elias: "He has made significant progress." Watch: https://t.co/vOoWU2b0kO
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 31, 2016
The games may not be meaningful in playoff positioning but don’t tell that to Elias. In the final year of his deal with the Devils, the 39-year-old Elias hasn’t worked his way back from a knee injury just for the fun of it.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 30, 2016
When healthy, Elias can still play and help a club out. Last season, No. 26 notched 13 tallies in 69 contests. Whether it’s the Devils retaining him for his veteran presence or another club looking to add him to their power play, Elias could still have enough left in the tank if his knee allows it.
Regardless of what the future holds, Elias’ past should be celebrated in the present.
Welcome back to practice Patrik Elias, Tyler Kennedy, David Schlemko & Jacob Josefson! pic.twitter.com/n9eCqqaAE5
— NJD Equipment Staff (@NJDSk8Guy) March 30, 2016
New Jersey’s four remaining contests are at Tampa, hosting Buffalo, Tampa and Toronto. More than ample time to salute what Elias has meant to the organization. Something for fans to hang their hat on as the season winds down.
Most importantly it will be an opportunity to “pass the torch,” so to speak. A chance to show the young players called up from Albany, the kind of adulation, admiration and respect they can earn if they play a team first, winning style of hockey, displayed by Elias since he too was brought up through the same ranks some 20 years prior.
Elias is the only Devils Stanley Cup champion left in New Jersey. He didn’t leave for greener or bluer pastures. The only thing Elias left, was everything he had left on the ice. During this final month of the regular season, at the very least, Elias deserves the chance to show what he has left.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.