Over the last several years, it has become fairly popular to discuss a team's Mount Rushmore: four players, coaches, or people that have made the most impact for a specific organization. Some Mounts can be anyone related to the organization, while others will be player-specific. Essentially, it is a fun way to discuss a team's prolific past, and perhaps present if said team is currently riding high.
Yesterday, John Buccigross over at ESPN released an article updating his NHL Mount Rushmores. Back in 2009 he did an article on each NHL team's Mount Rushmore of players, and yesterday he went back and updated it for 2015, citing differences and why he changed the players that he did (if he made any changes). For the Devils, in 2009 he placed Martin Brodeur, John MacLean, Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens on the Mount. For 2015, he made only one change: swapping in Patrik Elias and swapping out MacLean. So, his current Mount Rushmore of Devils' Players is Brodeur, Elias, Niedermayer, and Stevens.
Considering that ESPN is not the best place to have a quality discussion on something related to the NHL or the Devils, I wanted to bring the discussion over here to ILWT. Let's look at some players who missed John's cut, why they may deserve to be on the Devils' Mount Rushmore of Players, and let's come to our own consensus. In my opinion, there really are only two other players who make a strong case to be on the Mount, as they have the longevity with the team along with the on-ice play and leadership necessary. The title for each player will have a link to his career statistics from Hockey-Reference.
First, Buccigross removed MacLean from the 2015 Mount, so let's discuss why he may still deserve a spot there. MacLean had an exceptionally long career, playing until 2002. However, he played most of his best seasons in New Jersey, from when he was drafted 6th overall by New Jersey in the 1983 draft until the 1996-97 season. That is a better part of 14 seasons with the team, and that makes him one of the longest tenured Devils in team history.
One of MacLean's marquee moments with the team was undoubtedly the goal he scored in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks in 1988 to give the Devils their first playoff berth in team history:
His stats with the team are nothing to scoff at either: 934 GP, 347 G, 354 A, 701 P, and of course he was the assistant captain on the 1995 Cup winning team. He was a leader in the locker room for the better part of a decade, and he was part of that core group that brought the Devils from a Mickey Mouse organization to a perennial playoff contender. Without him, this organization may never have reached the greatness that it did.
Next, we have to look at Mr. Devil himself, Ken Daneyko. He is the only player not listed on Buccigross' list that has his number retired by the team. Ken played his entire 20 year career in New Jersey, and was a part of all 3 championship teams. His stats are not eye-popping: 36 G, 142 A, 178 P in 1283 GP, but Daneyko was never about producing points. He was a hard-nosed defenseman who fit perfectly into the style of hockey that identified those Devils' teams. His 2,519 career penalty minutes tell that tale quite well, as he was never afraid to do the dirty work for his teammates.
Like MacLean, Daneyko is another one of those Devils that helped bring the organization from its Mickey Mouse days to its lofty position as perennial contenders. He was a mainstay on the blue line for a team that was known as a defensive-first squad. Any highlight video of him will almost certainly be filled with hard hits and quality fights. Here is one example:
In the end, it is hard to argue for Daneyko when looking specifically at his career stats, but anyone who watched him play for New Jersey during most of his career will understand why his number is retired and why he deserves consideration. He personified the team in so many ways.
Again, I feel that to really be considered, a player would need to have spent the majority of his career with the team, and meant something special to the team while he was here. To me, that leaves specifically MacLean and Daneyko to go along with Buccigross' Brodeur, Elias, Niedermayer and Stevens. There are other names of course. In terms of longevity with the team, Sergei Brylin, Bruce Driver, Bobby Holik, John Madden, Randy McKay, Jay Pandolfo, and Colin White all played at least 10+ seasons and 700+ games with the club. You can add Kirk Muller to the list as well considering someone who has scored at least 500+ points with the team. But in reality, I do not see those players on the same level as the other six. They were quality Devils for sure, but I am not sure that they should be considered over the other six players for a spot on the Devils' Mount.
If you asked me specifically, I think that Buccigross did a good job naming Brodeur, Elias, Niedermayer and Stevens. I mean in reality, Brodeur and Stevens are untouchable. I could see some people making arguments for MacLean and/or Daneyko to be on the Mount instead of Elias and/or Niedermayer, but I couldn't imagine anyone arguing against Brodeur or Stevens being up there. If it were up to me, I would have to leave it as Buccigross has it now, as I think that it is a good Mount. Of course, a Mount of anyone related to the Devils would have to have Lou Lamoriello on it as well, so that would complicate things further. Thankfully, this discussion is only about players.
What do you think? Chime in on the discussion. Do you think that MacLean and/or Daneyko deserve to be on the New Jersey Devils' Mount Rushmore of Players? If so, who should be removed? Are there any other players that I left out that you feel should be argued for as deserving of a place on the Mount? If so, please make an argument below. And finally, what four players would you have on the Mount? Remember, this is specifically a Mount of players, so Lou Lamoriello cannot be on here. Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.