The freshest memory in our minds of the Devils right now is being embarrassed by one of the worst teams in the NHL. According to War on Ice, THE Edmonton Oilers basically doubled our Devils in scoring chances 25-13. This was coming after a 6-1-1 stretch that was halted with a sobering drubbing by Montreal. There's a lot of inclination from fans to begin giving up on this team and ignoring everything that happens until the offseason where, Lou-willing, we will make some changes for the future. While I'm all for supporting this team's future, I wanted to remind us of a few things we can be proud about.
Be Proud of Our Vets
The Devils Dynasty of 3 Cups in 5 appearances under the most prolific goalie of all-time is officially over by every measure you can imagine. From 1989-2012 the Devils played 22 seasons of hockey, made the playoffs 20 of those years, and registered 5 Conference championships and 3 Stanley Cup championships. There are two players on this team that were on our most recent cup victory: Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez. They were the two leading scorers on that team in the regular season and it is fitting that they are the ones guiding the farewell.
The Devils have 3 of the top 11 active career assists leaders including those two and Jagr. I understand that the Devils fans are strugglign to attach themselves to Jagr since he did a lot of his damage in his career against us. But Patrik Elias's repeated milestones are something to be truly proud of. Elias was drafted 51st overall in the 2nd round in the 1994 draft by the Devils. He has never played for another team and if he plays until the end of next year, he will have a real chance at topping Daneyko's games played mark after already owning the goals, assists, and points franchise records. He is proof of the offense from our Golden Age and he is in the Mount Rushmore of Devil's history (for the record, my other 3 are Marty, Stevens, and Niedermeyer). To me, watch him attempt to stack his hall of fame resume enough for consideration is more than enough reason for me to turn on the TV every game.
Be Proud of Our Youth
I feel like people forgot about Damon Severson. I feel like people forgot about John Q. I feel like people forgot about Reid Boucher. Between Gelinas, Larsson, Severson, Merrill, Santini, Jacobs Scarlett, Helgeson, and Hrbarenka, I find it hard to believe we can't dig up 3 to accompany Greene in a legitimate top 4 defenders.
Henrique has maxed out it appears. That's nothing to be ashamed of. He's a negative possession player, but is jockeying with Jaromir Jagr for the team lead in points. If the next few years get us a guy better than Ryder and Clowe to be is continued linemates, he will be able to flourish. Zajac is a strong two-way center perfect for the 2C role. And let's be patient with our forward prospects and our next few draft picks. I think Lou has earned that from us.
Be Proud of Our Team
For those of you who don't know, I started writing for ILWT through an audition post. I auditioned for the gig because I think Devils fans are among the most intelligible, most reliable, and most passionate fans in sports. For those who are in New Jersey, this is that last remaining NJ-named team in the Big 4 sports. The Devils gave us one of the lengthiest sustained strings of success in NHL history. Since 1980, only the Red Wings and Capitals have longer streaks. The Red Wings are the Kings of the Modern Era, but the Devils and HOFer Lou Lamoriello have a strong case to be the #2 on that list.
The franchise has earned a rebuild. This owner has earned our patience. These veterans have earned our attention. And this team has earned our fandom. In Lou We Trust.