[Welcome to the fourth edition of the Devils Fan Guide Weekly Section post. Once a week (or so), I'll write a section about the experience at the Rock or about the Devils that's suited for new fans, fans who haven't been to the Rock, and old fans who'd like to see a resource surrounding all this. I'm going to put it in a FanPost, you all can comment on it as you wish. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I got something wrong. Maybe you'd like something added. All criticism is fair game for a week (or so). After a week (or so), I'll close the comments and format the content into a separate page.
In these brackets and italicized words will be my own commentary that won't likely appear in this section. For this section, this is also YOUR time to make your mark. I look forward to what you would suggest to prevent this section coming out like that in the comments.]
Life is about choices. We choose what to wear. We choose what to learn. We choose who we like, we don't like, what we believe, what we think, and what we feel. In this way, sports is the same way. We choose what sports we like for varying reasons and we choose which team to follow and support.
No one is born or destined to be a New Jersey Devils fans. We chose to support the New Jersey Devils.
For this part of the guide, I'd like to highlight some reasons why Devils fans are Devils fans. Perhaps some stories as to how Devils fans became Devils fans. For you, the reader, I hope this provides some insight as why we chose who we chose.
[OK everyone, I'm starting the list - give me more reasons why you support the Devils. Yes, I missed a few obvious ones, but that's for you to add in to at least get your minds going. Keep in mind, this is for someone who doesn't know why they should support Devils.
Any "How I became a fan" stories would be fantastic, I'll put the best ones in a separate section.
UPDATED 2/28 - I'll leave this open for a few more days, I'll add the stories last - keep them coming.]
Team Accomplishments and Traits
Championships: Three Stanley Cups, the most championships by any local team not named the New York Yankees in the last 15 years.
Consistent Success: The Devils have been the second best team cumulatively in the NHL from 1993-94 through the 2008-09 seasons, proving that the team has been consistently successful. When Devils fans (and Lou) say that the goal every year is to win the Stanley Cup, they aren't fooling around.
- Rivalry Supremacy: Season to season, the series records may change; yet overall, the Devils have been superior to the Flyers and Rangers over the last decade and a half of the NHL. If you want to support the best local hockey team, the Devils are the team to support.
The "System" of Success: Defensive responsibility, a hard-working attitude, a team-first mentality, a high level of professionalism. These are the cornerstones of the team's philosophy and their system of success since Lou Lamoriello became general manager, president, and CEO of the Devils. It's not only worked out well, but it has drawn fans to embrace the Devils for practicing these values instead of doing whatever is popular in hockey or in sport. (thanks to don_vas for pointing this out first, and Devilssection21fan for pointing out the team-first mentality)
Devils Players and Personnel
Scott Stevens - Crushing hits, as solid as a rock on defense, and a leader like no other. Scott Stevens oversaw and led this team from being an average team to an annual contender. There's a cliche in sports where players are told to "give 110%" but Stevens is one of the few people who did just that. He's my personal favorite Devil of all time and a big reason why I (and many others) follow the Devils.
Martin Brodeur - Consistent, athletic, and as dependable as you can get in net. He's the all-time NHL leader in wins, minutes, shutouts, as well as a 4-time Vezina trophy winner along with an Olympic gold medal. He's been with the team since being drafted in 1990 and has proven his commitment by never straying from the franchise, even deferring money when possible. Brodeur's skills alone are worth the price of admission.
Patrik Elias - World-class vision, more heart than people realize, and just an excellent forward. Like Brodeur, Elias is a Devils-lifer and has been the team's top forward for much of the past decade. His passing and decision-making with the puck are dazzling to watch.
Zach Parise - Quite possibly the next franchise cornerstone for the Devils. He's one of the best American players in the game today and the word to describe him is dynamic. Seemingly in constant motion, always buzzing around the net or along the boards despite his size, and he truly doesn't give up on a play when there's a chance to do something. He has thrilled the young ladies with his looks and every Devils fan with his skills. To think, he's only going to get better.
- Lou Lamoriello: As noted earlier, the Devils have been a consistent contender whereas most other teams have risen and fallen throughout the last 15 seasons or so. This speaks highly of the accomplishments of Lou Lamoriello, who was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 as a Builder while still serving as President, CEO, and General Manager of the New Jersey Devils. This blog isn't named after him for no reason - Devils fans seriously trust Lou.
Important Games and Events
- 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the Rangers: Yes, the Devils lost this one in seven games to Our Hated Rivals; germinating a ton of hatred of the Rangers for a new generation (myself included). Yet, this was a watershed moment in retrospect as the Devils really blossomed here. They were no longer just a good team, but a team that could contend for a championship. The double OT 4-3 win on May 15, 1994 (Game 1) was a particular highlight; proving that the Devils were no flash-in-the-pan opponent and setting the series to be an epic rivalry. (Thanks to njdNYG'cuse for this note)
- The 1995 Stanley Cup: Sweeping the Detroit Red Wings opened up a lot of people's eyes to how effective the Devils were as a team. (Thanks to Devilssection21fan for this)
- 2000 Eastern Conference Finals Comeback over Philadelphia: Down 3-1 in the series, the Devils battled hard and overcame the massive deficit to win the series in 7 games to go onto the Stanley Cup Finals. Proof of guts, grit, and gargantuan character for the comeback to happen at all. (Thanks again to Devilssection21fan)
- The 2000 Stanley Cup: Six bitterly fought games against an equally stingy Dallas Stars game. The Devils picked up the clinching goal from Jason Arnott to celebrate the win in Dallas.
- The 2003 Stanley Cup: Against the hype-machine generated by Jean-Sebastian Giguere's brilliant goaltending and the fact it was the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Devils made a big statement in 7 games, including that momentous Game 7 (June 9, 2003) where Martin Brodeur shutout the Ducks and Mike Rupp of all players was the hero with 2 goals.
Jersey's Team: The Devils are the local team; one of two professional teams that proudly represent New Jersey (and it's questionable the Nets really wants to represent NJ). They do not call themselves a New York team that plays in New Jersey (e.g. Giants, Jets, Red Bulls); nor are they looking to get into New York at the moment (the Nets). They are local and they aren't ashamed to represent the state. This is not New York, this is not Philadelphia, this is New Jersey; and the Devils know, understand, and embrace this fact. (Thanks to FrankG29, Devil_Hard_Core, Cherno77 for emphasizing the local aspect)
Out of the Spotlight/"Underdog" Mentality: Despite the success, the Devils do not seemingly get the respect they deserve for their accomplishments for a number of reasons: where they play being between two big markets, how they accomplish their goals, how many people go to the games, etc. Some still think it's 1995 and that the Devils are running a neutral zone trap for 60 minutes. All this builds up to a perception that the Devils are the underdogs - and fans appreciate that. (Thanks to elesias,
- The Team Name: The Devils are pretty intimidating as far as names go. (Thanks to elesias)
- The Logo: It's a pretty boss logo, showing without words who they represent (New Jersey) and what they are (Devils). (Thanks again to elesias, Jago)
[OK, here's where I'm going to leave it off for now. Please add other reasons why people should support the Devils in the comments, including how you became a Devils fan to begin with. Again, I'll add stories later.]