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Martin possible for Wednesday

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Martin at Tuesday's practice.
Paul Martin hasn’t ruled out coming back for Wednesday’s home meeting with Pittsburgh, but not just because he hoped to wear the team’s throwback red and green uniforms.

“I don’t know, to be honest with you,” Martin said following an optional practice on Tuesday. “I feel good today. But then again, as you go through a whole practice and the more shots I take, it gets fatigued, it gets sore. But at the same time, in a game, typically you’re not shooting 250 pucks.”

Martin was decked out in the retro threads even though his status for the game remains uncertain. Seven skaters practiced in the red helmets, green pants and matching socks that the club wore from its New Jersey inception in 1982 until 1992, when the colors were changed to red and black. They will use their current red and black gloves.

“I just think they didn’t want me to look out of place and be the only one not wearing the green stuff,” Martin said.

Martin will consult with physical therapist Gary Flink before making a final decision on his return. He said Tuesday he expects to be back no later than Saturday, when the Devils host St. Louis, and will make the trip for Thursday’s contest in Toronto.

“It’s at the point now where it’s feeling a little better every day,” he said. “There’s still the soreness, but, to a point, I think the sooner I get in the better it will be for it.”

Martin received clearance for full practice once it was determined that the bone in his left forearm had fully healed. The blueliner suffered a non-displaced fracture after blocking a shot in Pittsburgh on Oct. 24, and has missed all but nine games this season.

“Now it’s between me and Gary as far as the motion of the wrist, and the strength to be able to hold guys off and take a hit – that kind of thing,” Martin explained. “It feels better but at the same time, to get in there, it’ll loosen up as I begin to play games and get stronger.”

The compacted schedule means more optional skates to ensure players stay rested down the stretch. Aside from three two-day breaks, the Devils will play every other night from now until the season finale versus Buffalo on April 11. Martin noted that even optionals like Tuesday’s can help him get back up to speed.

“It was good as long as we do some battle drills; some 1-on-1s, some 2-on-2s,” he said. “You’re getting in position, that kind of thing, just to get (the wrist) moving. It’s tough when practices down the stretch here aren’t very intense, as opposed to the beginning of the year.”

Martin has made some changes, such as wearing extra protection on his left wrist and switching to sticks with more flex so that it’s easier to bend the stick while shooting. He planned on reevaluating how he felt Wednesday morning.

“For the morning skate (Wednesday), if it’s not worse or more sore, then hopefully it’ll feel better and I’ll be more inclined to get in there for (Wednesday) night,” he said.

Should Martin’s first game in nearly six months fall on the night that the red and green returns, the sixth-year Devil joked about having to make at least one mental adjustment.

“I think that might complicate things because I’m so used to passing to one color,” he said.

Mark Fraser
Devils find it easy being green
There were rave reviews Tuesday for the red and green.

“They’re really cool,” Andrew Peters said. “It’ll be neat to see (Wednesday), that’s for sure.”

The Devils announced back in August that their vintage look would return for the game on March 17. Some of the greats to have worn the green include Martin Brodeur, Ken Daneyko, Claude Lemieux, John MacLean, Kirk Muller, Chico Resch, Stephane Richer, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Stevens, Patrik Sundstrom, and Pat Verbeek.

New Jersey wore red and green at the time of its first playoff run in 1988, when the Jim Schoenfeld-led squad came within one win of an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Though there are currently no plans for Jersey’s Team to go green beyond Wednesday, defenseman Mark Fraser was excited for a unique moment in club history.

“I was warned you can’t get used to it, but while it lasts, I think we’re going to enjoy it for sure,” Fraser said.

An admitted fan of retro jerseys, Fraser felt the red and green rated well against some of the NHL’s other throwbacks.

“I’d say it’s up there,” said Fraser, who was six years old the last time the Devils wore green. “I’ve always kind of liked the green and red, personally. Like I said, because it really is such a unique occasion and the Devils have only had two jerseys – the new and the old. Some of the other throwbacks, I’m not so sure of the colors or designs. But I’m a big fan of these.”

Martin Skoula sees the green as worthy of its own special night.

“I think it’s actually pretty neat that we don’t use it more than once because some of the teams have third jerseys and they wear it 15 times a year, 20 times a year so it kind of gets usual,” said Skoula. “People consider it another jersey, but this way it’s something special.”

Skoula played 33 games with the Penguins this season, and gave Pittsburgh’s powder blue retro a thumbs up.

“They actually used it quite often, that’s why people take it as another jersey,” he said. “The blue ones were pretty nice, too.”

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, 24, doesn’t remember seeing the Devils in green, but said the uniform was “definitely nice.”

“I’ve seen the pictures here,” Letourneau-Leblond said. “I’ve always thought it was good.”

Said Peters: “I like the retro stuff; it reminds you of when you were a kid.”

On Sunday, Skoula returned to Pittsburgh for the birth of his son, Vojtech.

“Everything’s pretty great and went smoothly and couldn’t be better,” said Skoula.

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