The New Jersey Devils will raise No. 26 to the rafters on Saturday night before their game against the New York Islanders, retiring the number of winger Patrik Elias. He’s the all-time franchise leader in goals (408) and points (1,025), having won Stanley Cups with the Devils in 2000 and 2003.
We caught up with Elias recently in Newark to talk about his career, the NHL and that time the career Devil nearly bolted for the rival Rangers.
Elias: I didn’t. It was given to me. We really didn’t have a choice of numbers. I had a couple of numbers before that, and every time someone was traded here that wore the number that I had, I had to give it up. I was a rookie, obviously. I would have worn No. 24. I had that as a kid, a little bit in the minors. But No. 26 is me. No. 24 is no more. It went out of the window pretty quickly.
It will take more work to overhaul an overtaxed secondary. The 49ers will have to hope safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are ready to be the foundation of the franchise’s last line of defense, as Eric Reid seems destined to depart as a free agent. Those two combined for only 16 games in 2017, so some of the team’s defensive deficiencies can be explained by their frequent absences.
The Lions also retained Jim Bob Cooter as their offensive coordinator, which is good news because 1) he’s good and 2) he’s got the best name in the NFL. Patricia can take his lessons learned from the almighty Belichick, and perhaps help the Lions end their 26-year playoff win drought.
Everyone knows he can be a big-play and red-zone beast if right, as evidenced by his 1,400-yard, 14-TD season in 2015. The question is whether he will round back into his best form, given his numbers dipped with a shakier Blake Bortles in 2016. Jacksonville has a ton of money and is a good bet to franchise tag (at worst) such a young, talented, all-around wideout.
Landry looks like he’s about to walk away from Miami. He remains a high-volume slot machine after leading the league in catches last season. He’ll get the massive deal he wants elsewhere, and a lot of teams will line up with Robinson likely off the market.