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Shanahan agrees to join Devils

by John Kreiser
Brendan Shanahan is going home again.

Shanahan, who began his career with New Jersey more than 20 years ago, has agreed in principle to rejoin the Devils, who selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 1987 Entry Draft.

"Brendan Shanahan has agreed in principle to join the New Jersey Devils," General Manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement issued Saturday. "He will begin skating on his own. Brendan will join the team at a date to be determined."

Shanahan has not yet signed a contract, but Lamoriello said that will be worked out, "in the next couple of days."

The Devils say Shanahan, who turns 40 next month, is expected to be more than a power-play specialist. Not that they can't use the help — New Jersey had dropped to 21st in power-play percentage at 16.4 percent before scoring three times with the man advantage in a 5-1 win at Los Angeles on Saturday night.

"In our minds, Brendan can be a full-time player," Lamoriello said during a conference call. "It's no different than any other player. They determine the ice time that they get, and the coaches determine how much they're used within how the games go. He's not being signed just to play on power plays, or just to play [on penalty kills]. We feel he can come and help this team be better and have more success."

Shanahan is 11th on the all-time goals list with 650 and 24th in career points with 1,340 — plus 59 goals and 131 points in 177 playoff games. He scored 23 goals -- 11 on the power play -- and added 23 assists in 73 games with the New York Rangers in 2007-08. He's been a free agent since his contract with the Rangers expired at the end of last season, and has been looking for a new team since then.

"I had no desire to leave my team, but it didn't work out," Shanahan said in a conference call with the media. "That's sometimes the way it goes in a salary cap business. I had a great two years there."

With the Rangers not an option because they were tight against the salary cap, and a young family that made him reluctant to leave the Northeast, Shanahan opted not to sign with anyone despite receiving good offers from teams in the Western Conference.

Until now.
"I'm grateful. I was Lou's first-ever draft pick," Shanahan said. "I'm not looking at this in such grand terms of going full circle. I just hope to add to their team and help their team."

The Devils are third in the Atlantic Division, four points behind first-place Philadelphia. The victory at Los Angeles came in the opener of a six-game road trip.

However, New Jersey has struggled to score in the past couple of weeks. The Devils'  4-0 loss to Atlanta on Thursday was their third defeat by shutout in their past nine games.

Despite the offensive problems, Lamoriello said the decision to add Shanahan wasn't based on the recent struggles.

"I don't think you ever make a decision [based] on one or two games, or even three games," Lamoriello said. "I think the overall specialty teams' success – or lack of success – at a given time, in my mind, was the impetus to coming to this conclusion."

The Devils will give Shanahan all the time he needs to get into game shape.

"He certainly will not be rushed into anything," Lamoriello said. "The coaches will determine when he is ready. I do not feel that age is a factor. I have had players who were 25 going on 50 and players who were 35 going on 25. I feel that Brendan is in the latter part."

Lamoriello spoke with Shanahan's agent this week and then met with the left wing in person Friday. They talked again Saturday and agreed that Shanahan would join the Devils once he is in game shape.

"Lou and I talked around noon," Shanahan said. "When I called and said that I would like to accept his offer and to become a part of the Devils, he said, 'When do you want to skate?' I said, 'I'll be at the arena in two hours.' So I think (the contract) will get worked out in a few days."

Shanahan spent four seasons with the Devils, scoring 88 goals and adding 126 assists for 214 points in 281 games, before joining the St. Louis Blues as a free agent in 1991 — a move that brought Hall of Famer Scott Stevens to the Devils as compensation under the rules then in place. He later played with Hartford and Detroit — winning Stanley Cups with the Red Wings in 1997, 1998 and 2002 — before joining the Rangers in 2006.

Shanahan joins former teammates Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston as ex-Devils who've returned to the franchise, though he's never played with anyone on the current roster.

"That is a nice thing to know that the player knows about the organization, knows what is expected, knows what the philosophy is, so that is something that you don't have to go through," Lamoriello said. "It's nostalgic because Brendan came in when I came in, but that shortly stopped because this is hockey. This is a hockey decision 100 percent in every way.

"You can never have enough experience. He knows what it takes to win."

Material from wire services and team Web sites was used in this report
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