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Devils will be fast, attacking, supportive, Shero says

by Evan Sporer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Before New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero introduced coach John Hynes at Prudential Center on Tuesday, he spelled out the blueprint for what the Devils will look like under his leadership.

"Since this is really the first time I've had a chance to address everybody here, I think it's important for me to establish and say what I think exactly the identity of this hockey team is going forward," said Shero, who was hired May 4. "There are three things that I think you can identify the New Jersey Devils with moving forward, and that's going to be fast, that's going to be attacking, and that's going to be supportive."

The Devils finished 28th in the NHL in goals per game last season. Shero painted the picture of a more aggressive team, but one that maintains the cohesiveness he said has been established by president and former GM Lou Lamoriello.

"When I talk about fast I don't mean about skating-around-the-ice fast," Shero said. "That's part of it. But fast hockey is you practice fast, you think fast, execute fast, and move the puck quickly. That's fast hockey."

Hynes, who worked with Shero in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization when Shero was general manager and Hynes coached their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, said he will begin to reach out to Devils players to build a relationship and trust before talking about the vision for the team.

"It was the type of team identity we had in Wilkes-Barre," Hynes said. "The important thing in the words that Ray used is not so much the systematic thing, but I think as an organization, the identity of our team, something our players understand clearly, how we want to play, what our identity is going to be, those things are really important."

Shero said the Devils roster is under construction and always will be under evaluation.

"What I'm looking at is opportunity and competition, and I think I said that when we signed [Sergei] Kalinin from Russia," Shero said. "You know what? It's competition. Let's see. And even guys who are here before, it's a competition.

"That's the moves we want to try to make and … getting back to the decisions we make, those three words, and what we want to be, and what they really mean, the decisions will be about competition and if they encompass those qualities."

Though the Devils have room to grow offensively, Shero defined his vision of how they can get there.

"Attacking isn't just about scoring goals; it's a mindset defensively that I share with the head coach here today," Shero said. "We talk about supportive and what supportive means, and supportive means five guys on the ice, as a group, trying to, as a group, do these things. Supportive is five guys who are in the defensive zone and five guys supporting the neutral zone.

"If you can't come out of your defensive zone in this League, you can talk all day about scoring goals, but you're not going to do it. It starts with that identity that's been here for a long time, but building on that is the identity of these other things in terms of fast and attacking hockey."

Follow Evan Sporer on Twitter: @ev_sporer

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