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Devils Q&A with Jason Arnott

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils
Arnott spent the last four seasons in Nashville, where he served as captain.
Jason Arnott admits he was disappointed to leave New Jersey eight years ago and has been eager to get back ever since.

The 6-5 centerman, who scored the 2000 Stanley Cup-clinching goal for the Devils, was first acquired in 1998 along with Bryan Muir in exchange for Bill Guerin and Valeri Zelepukin. Following back-to-back Finals appearances with Jersey's Team in 2000 and 2001, Arnott was shipped to Dallas with Randy McKay and a first-rounder in the deal that brought Jamie Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk to the Garden State in 2002.

Arnott, 35, played 302 games in New Jersey, tallying 97 goals, 124 assists for 221 points, and notching 18 goals, 23 assists in 58 postseason appearances. He's scored 20-or-more goals in 10 of the last 11 seasons, including 33 in 2008-09 that matched a career high.

The native of Collingwood, Ontario, has amassed 383 goals, 490 assists for 873 points in 1,099 games spanning 16 seasons.

Reacquired from Nashville on June 19, Arnott hopes to reunite with former linemate Patrik Elias, and says he's pumped up for what could be a deep run for the Devils in 2010-11.

How did you hear that you had been traded to the Devils again?
Bronx, N.Y.
JA: I was contacted by my agent.

Was it a surprise or were you expecting it?
JA: I was expecting it. It was a mutual thing between myself and the Nashville Predators because I had a no-trade clause in my contract, so it was basically up to me. I knew it was coming.

Were you expecting to come back?
JA: New Jersey was No. 1 on my list of teams to go to, so I was hoping it was New Jersey, but I didn’t know if it was going to happen or not.

What is your favorite part about being back in the Garden State?
Fanwood, N.J.
JA: I think just the memories of playing there before. I’m really excited, they’ve got a fantastic team. Just being around the atmosphere with the way Lou [Lamoriello] runs things, and things like that, is always an exciting time and you always have a great chance to win.

Were you disheartened when New Jersey traded you away in 2002, or did you think it was a good time to move on?
Piscataway, N.J.
JA: No, I was disappointed. I was very upset about it. I didn’t want to go anywhere; I loved where I was. I loved the guys and the team. Obviously, leaving Patty [Elias] and Syky [Petr Sykora] hurt a lot. We had a great line going [with the A-Line]. It was disappointing.

In your opinion what makes New Jersey so special? It seems everyone wants to come back here.
East Rutherford, N.J.
JA: For one, I think, you always have a great chance of winning. I think Lou always puts a team together that gives the best possible chance of winning. Just the time that I had when I was there before; I had a fantastic time. Obviously, winning helps a lot. But playing-wise, as well, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun with all the guys. It’s just a great place to play, especially with the new building. It’s an exciting time.

Hoisting the Cup in Dallas.
What were some of the things you missed about New Jersey?
Wyckoff, N.J.

JA: You’d have to go with food, right off the hop. I don’t think I’ve been to Italian restaurants as great as what’s in New Jersey. You’ve got a lot of them, plus the little delis and stuff like that. Just the atmosphere around, you’ve got New York which is a few minutes away and the beautiful suburbs of New Jersey. The suburbs are similar to Nashville, but you’ve always got the New York atmosphere, which is minutes away.

What have you been doing this summer to prepare for the upcoming season?
Howell, N.J.
JA: I train a lot. I have a personal trainer just to keep me in shape, and I'll start skating soon just to try and stay in the best shape possible. I enjoy time with my family and relax a little bit before all the hectic stuff of the season gets going.

What do you expect from the team this year?
Freehold, N.J.

JA: I expect, hopefully, we win. We’ve got a great team and I think you have to set your goals high: That’s winning the Stanley Cup. That’s what we do.

What was the first thing that went through your mind when the puck got past Ed Belfour for the Cup-winning goal in 2000?
Forked River, N.J.
JA: [laughs] The first thing was that I didn’t want to run over the ref when I went into the corner to celebrate. That probably would’ve been the first. I think I was in shock that it even went in. I just heard the clunk in the back of the net, and I was just kind of in shock for the first little bit. Then I was getting bombarded by everybody. There was just a disbelief that that just happened and that we won.

Did you think there was any chance that Belfour could stop it as he came across, or did you know as it was on its way that you were going to score?
Carteret N.J.
JA: I didn’t know that Patty was going to make such a great pass on his backhand across the crease like he did. That’s kind of the way he was with me all the time; he always seemed to find me. When it came across, I knew that if I elevated a little bit, it was so far over and Eddie had so far to go that I had a chance to put it in. I was just concentrating on hitting the net when the puck came across and I would have a good chance of beating him because it was so far across. Fortunately, it did go in.

Are you hoping to line up with Elias for 2010-11?
Old Westbury, N.Y.
JA: That would be fantastic. We’ve kept in contact over the years, and it was one of my things that I would love to get back to playing with him again and see where things could go. I think the feeling was mutual with him. The way the League is, it was a tough thing to do, but we’re together now. We’ll see. It’ll be up to the coaching staff whether we play together or not.

Are you ready to score another Cup winner for us?
Fair Lawn, N.J.
JA: [laughs] One hundred percent… Yes.

In what ways do you expect your role on the team to be similar and/or different from when you were a part of the Devils years ago?
Clifton, N.J.
JA: It’ll be different. I’m an older guy now. I was one of the youngest guys on the team then, and looking up to a lot of the older guys to help me out, especially Scotty Stevens. He really took me under his wing and helped me out a lot with off-ice stuff as well as the on-ice. Hopefully, I can help out some of our young kids and just help them along, do the best I can and play as hard as I can to help us win.

How smooth of a transition into the system do you expect from a coaching standpoint? Will it be easy going from Jack Adams finalist Barry Trotz to Devils rookie head coach John MacLean?
Basking Ridge, N.J.
JA: Yeah, I think so. You have to build a relationship between the coaching staff, yourself and the team. I think Johnny’s really experienced and has done really well in the minors. I think he’s a player’s coach, but I don’t know exactly how he coaches. He’s played a lot of years and knows what players think and what we go through. That helps a lot because some coaches just don’t know a lot about what you’re thinking and what goes on in the dressing room, things like that. I think he’s going to bring a lot of great stuff to the dressing room, teach us a lot and hopefully lead us down the road to great things.

Have you spoken to MacLean this summer, and how did that go?
JA: It went well. He basically just welcomed me to the team, things like that. He was looking forward to talking to me in camp and wants me to be an older, leader guy that helps out a lot around the room. There’s certain things that he can come to me with and I can go to him with, little things like that. We didn’t get into a whole lot. He wanted to wait until we got into the swing of things.

What is your opinion about the offseason moves the Devils have made this year? Do you think this team on paper has a chance of having that magical run and chemistry from 2000?
Tenafly, N.J.
JA: I think it does. It’s going to be a matter of jelling and meshing as a team. When you bring that many guys into a team at once, sometimes it takes a while. We did that in 2000 when we won. In the years before that, we brought in new guys here and there and it took a little bit to get the chemistry going. It all depends. It could take a little bit of time, or it could take no time at all and everyone might just jell and mesh right off the bat. On paper, yes, I think we have a legit chance of winning this year and going far and doing real well. 

What do you do to get ready for games? Any superstitions?
Rochester, N.Y.
JA: I put on all my gear the same time, same stuff, every time. Usually it’ll be left shinpad, right shinpad, left sock, right sock, that type of thing, and it’ll all be in the same order every time.

What's your favorite type of fishing?
Medford, N.J.
JA: Bass fishing, and I do a lot of it. Hunting is my favorite, a lot of deer hunting. Scotty [Stevens] and I did a lot of bow hunting with a friend of ours in New Jersey. I’ll be looking to doing some more of that.

How is the hunting in New Jersey?
JA: It’s unbelievable. There’s so many deer, it’s unbelievable. Great deer hunting [in New Jersey]. There was good deer hunting in Nashville, as well.

If you were to run away and join the circus what act would you perform?
Flemington, N.J.
JA: [laughs] A lion tamer.

What’s that say about your personality?
JA: I don’t know. [laughs] A little bit crazy here and there, I guess. I think it’d be fun, but there’d also be that fear. I guess that’s the hunter in me coming out, where you get that excitement to be around the animals, but you also have that little bit of fear where you never know if they’re going to attack or not.

Did you use those taming skills as the captain in Nashville?
JA: Sometimes. [laughs] We had a lot of young guys, so you had to do a little bit of it.

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