The New Jersey Devils have always been built around defense and goaltending, and after the departures of defensemen Scott Stevens (retirement), Ken Daneyko (retirement), Scott Niedermayer (free agency) and Brian Rafalski (free agency) many wondered how the team could lose so many linchpins and still stay competitive. GM Lou Lamoriello has tried to rebuild the defense and drafted a key piece in Adam Larsson at this past June’s NHL Entry Draft, but one player who could anchor the new-age Devils defense is Bryce Salvador who was acquired from St. Louis on February 26, 2008.
Salvador, a ten-year NHL veteran, missed all of last season with post-concussion syndrome but has returned in 2011-12 to solidify New Jersey’s defense corps (along with oft-injured Anton Volchenkov). The 35-year-old has played in 645 games over his career, compiling 97 points (23g-74a) and now in his fourth season with the Devils, he seems to have found a niche under new coach Pete DeBoer as he is routinely among the ice-time leaders for the team.
Recently I sat down with Salvador to talk about his career, his interests away from the game and some of his memories:
Dan Rice: I’m assuming that you have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season after what you went through last season?
Bryce Salvador: Definitely, it’s a great feeling to be back after missing the whole season, I feel fortunate to be back and playing in the NHL.
DR: Does a year off from hockey extend your playing career another year?
BS: Hopefully a few more years (smiles). My body is definitely rested after a whole year of no hockey games.
DR: What do you remember about your draft day?
BS: That I was the first guy not to be there (laughs)! It was pretty exciting just to be drafted, getting that call from Tampa Bay; it was a great feeling.
DR: What do you remember about your first goal?
BS: It was one of those plays where the puck came to me at the blueline, I believe it was against Chicago; Pierre Turgeon passed it back to me, I walked in and fired a shot that went in top shelf.
DR: Do you still have that puck?
BS: Yup. I have it at home, framed and everything.
DR: Who is your best friend in the NHL?
BS: There’s a lot of guys over the years that I’ve made pretty good acquaintances with, right now David Clarkson and I are pretty close, but I wouldn’t say one player more than another.
DR: Who is the funniest guy on the Devils?
BS: For the most part the guys are pretty quiet; (big smile) Dainius Zubrus is just funny…funny-looking maybe. He’s a pretty lively guy in our room.
DR: Is there any player in the league that you don’t look forward to playing against?
BS: Oh geez, the other teams all usually have two solid lines. But obviously guys like (Alex) Ovechkin, (Sidney) Crosby, (Evgeni) Malkin, (Martin) St. Louis, (Steven) Stamkos and (Rick) Nash — just to name a few. There are a lot of great players and each one poses a unique threat in their own way.
DR: What was it like playing in St. Louis?
BS: It was a great time; that organization took a chance on me, signing me as an unrestricted free agent out of juniors and gave me an opportunity. I was pretty fortunate to play the beginning of my career with Hall-of-Famer Al MacInnis for a couple of years; it was a pretty nice start to my career.
DR: Do you have a favorite TV show?
BS: Modern Family.
DR: Favorite movie?
DR: What’s on your iPod these days?
BS: Whatever my wife puts on it (laughs)!
Thanks for reading, if there is a player you would like read an interview with submit your suggestions and also questions:
Dan Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.