Don't ask me to explain it because, quite frankly, I don't know how. Maybe they rallied together together because there wasn't one media outlet that had finishing better than 28th in the entire NHL. Maybe the personalities that were brought into the locker room by Ray Shero just happened to fit with those that remained from the old regime. Maybe it's all an illusion, and a product of the team finally being granted internet access like a 10 year old fighting to get on the family computer in 2002. Whatever the case may be, the New Jersey Devils just seemed far more tight knit than ever before last year. Perhaps that - as well as a complete lack of expectations - is what made last season enjoyable despite not being very successful. Knowing that a team that was suffering from a comical lack of talent was in it together and busting their asses for each other made them exponentially easier to enjoy - even when the quality of play wasn't exactly breathtaking.
That's why letting Larsson go hurts so much. Obviously he was a MASSIVE part of what the Devils did on the ice, but his social media jousting with Kyle Palmieri was just as entertaining off the ice. Watching one of the Devils' most promising young forwards go back and forth with one of their most promising young defenseman gave a fanbase hope for a ball busting bromance that could last the NHL equivalent of an eternity. I think we all understand that professional sports are a business, but keeping those two together as key pillars in the rebuilding of the franchise seemed like the easiest of architectural decisions until Edmonton came along offering up a support beam that could expedite the construction process. I am still ecstatic - to the point of disbelief - of the thought of Taylor Hall in New Jersey, but seeing Adam Larsson head back to Edmonton felt like more than losing a quality defenseman....it felt like losing a friend. I think Kyle Palmieri would agree.
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