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Devils Travis Green Explains Surprise Scratch For Simon Nemec

Simon Nemec comes out of the lineup on Tuesday against the Panthers in a surprise healthy scratch situation.



New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

NEWARK — In one of his first moves as interim head coach, Travis Green is sitting Simon Nemec as a healthy scratch on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.

Green explained that he’s not going to come into his new position and make a bunch of changes to the Devils’ lineup.

“I’m not going to change everything in one day,” Green explained. “There’s been a lot of talk today. For a lot of these players, they’ve never gone through something like this before where their coach has been fired, a new coach is in, and you have a game that night.”

Of note, Alexander Holtz is still on the fourth line, Timo Meier is still on the second power play, and Jack Hughes is back on the second-line left-wing

The most notable omission, however, was Nemec who skated as an extra defenseman with Nick DeSimone who has yet to play a game with the Devils.

“I had a great meeting with (Nemec) today,” said Green. “I think he’s going to have a great, really long career, be a really good player in this league, I really like him as a player, and man. When he first came up, just watching him, I don’t want to use the word shocked, but I was really happy with how he played. But also in saying that, I walked up to him this morning and said I think your game has dipped in the last three weeks. We’ve been talking about keeping him in, pulling him out, and we talked about why. I think it’s really important, I’ve worked with young players over the years, to be honest with them. But also make sure that you keep their confidence because I don’t want to take that confidence away from players, especially young players.”

Nemec has always believed he belongs in the NHL. In fact, he proved that stemming back to his NHL debut on December 1st. 39 games later, Green says that his game has faltered a bit as opposed to the player he was when he first burst into the NHL.

“I told him that he’s going to get back in,” Green continued. “But we talked about some things that I want to see, we want to see, a lot of that has to do with his skating. He just doesn’t have that pop that he had when he first came up and the season is a grind, the NHL is a grind. We see a lot of young defensemen sometimes not play every night. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s up to us to make sure that we move them along and make sure that his play raises as he plays more and grows as a player. When I left the room today, I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a terrible thing that he wasn’t playing tonight and make sure his confidence remained.”

In 40 games this season, Nemec has accrued two goals and 16 points, and in his last 10 games — about the three-week timeline Green mentioned — Nemec has collected just two assists.

Nemec hasn’t been without his rookie mistakes and defensive deficiencies, especially lately. However, the scratch does come as a bit of a surprise. Perhaps it’s more because this is the most hockey Nemec has ever played in a long stretch of a season. A breather might be necessary for the 20-year-old.

But, you wonder if Nemec is going to be the first to receive the accountability treatment, will Luke Hughes be next?

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