Finnish defenseman Anssi Salmela was recalled from Lowell yesterday afternoon and joined the Devils in Tampa Bay as they prepared for tonight’s game. Salmela’s last played for New Jersey on November 29th in Pittsburgh. Anssi’s brief stint earlier this season with New Jersey was highlighted by a two-assist game vs. Tampa Bay on November 23rd. Salmela earned a call-up with his strong play down in Lowell, where he quarterbacked the power play.
New Jersey Devils’ Anssi Salmela gets help from Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens, among others
by Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger
Wednesday February 18, 2009, 8:23 PM
TAMPA, Fla. – Anssi Salmela got the Hall of Fame crash course.
First it was Larry Robinson who showed up in Lowell, Mass., this winter to work with the Devils prospect.
Then it was Scott Stevens who arrived in the New England outpost to offer the 24-year-old Finnish defenseman a few lessons in being a pro. In between, Jacques Laperriere did some teaching.
“They came to give me tips,” Salmela said Wednesday after he was recalled from the minors and joined the Devils for practice at the St. Pete Times Forum. “They’re such pros, it’s so easy to listen to them.
“Scott Stevens talked about being a pro and dealing with game situations, like three-on-twos and two-on-ones. I have to find my own style, but I really like that style he played.”
With Paul Martin still sidelined by an upper body muscle pull, Salmela will be in the Devils lineup Thursday night when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning. He figures to see time on the power play.
“He didn’t come up to sit in the stands,” coach Brent Sutter said.
In 36 games at Lowell this season, Salmela had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) and 41 penalty minutes. He was minus-6.
“He’s been playing very well in Lowell,” general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “With Paul’s soreness, and not knowing day to day, what (Salmela) brings offensively gives Brent another option. He brings more offense. He can certainly add to the power play.”
In 15 games with the Devils earlier this season, Salmela had three assists and was plus-2 before being demoted.
“I don’t think there is any player who does himself a disservice by playing in the minors and learning,” Lamoriello said. “And with the coaching — Larry, Jacques Laperriere and Scotty Stevens — how could you ask for more than that? We have an outstanding crop of young defensemen in the minors.”
Not many teams can send three Hall of Fame defensemen as tutors.