Patrik Elias made his number, #26, one of the iconic ones in New Jersey Devils franchise history. Tonight, Elias’ number will be raised to the rafters to join the other famous numbers in Devils history. His #26 will be alongside Ken Daneyko’s #3, Scott Stevens’ #4, Scott Niedermayer’s #27, and Martin Brodeur’s #30. He is the first forward to have his number retired in Devils history. That ceremony will begin at about 6:15 PM ET tonight.
Elias completely deserves this honor. He is the franchise leader in goals with 408 and points with 1,027. He did it all while doing everything asked of him. Need him to play center? He did it. Kill penalties? You got it. Power play? You bet. Tough matchups? Give it to him. Drive the play and lead the attack? No problem. Playoffs? Elias not only showed up but he’s got two rings and a killer Cup winning assist to cap that part of his career. Elias did it all for the Devils save for play goaltender and he did it all really well - all for this organization and mostly during an era of low scoring hockey. Elias is a Devils legend.
Like any legend, we all have many memories of what Elias did. I’ve asked the other writers here at All About the Jersey to share their favorite. As Elias’ #26 will be retired, this day is wholly appropriate to look back and share what we appreciated about the legendary forward.
In all of the great moments of the career of Patrik Elias, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one. Since I have to for the sake of this article, I’m going to go with his last one; more specifically, his last goal. With the Devils playing for nothing except for pride against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 9th of 2016, the team would see some special moments with both Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique hitting the 30 goal mark on a lost season.
Palmieri’s 30th would make it 4-1 with a mere 2:56 to go in the third period, but the Devils would strike once more. A misplay from Toronto goaltender Garret Sparks would see Palms steal the puck and shuttle a pass out to the front of the net where Patty defeated father time for just a moment, and looked like the Elias of old, burying the final goal of his career. In the words of Steve Cangialosi, “And if that’s goodbye, what a way to go out.” Thank you Patty; we’re going to miss you on the ice.
Aside: This is also Steve Wozniak’s favorite Elias moment too.
January 6th, 2015. Patrik Elias notches his 600th career assist against the Buffalo Sabres. Coming later in the night his 601st assist would be more meaningful.
On an otherwise nothing to write home about play, Patrik flipped the puck up ice from near the boards in his own zone to Travis Zajac. Zajac would then skate towards the red line before Mike Cammalleri shot into the Sabres empty net to put the finishing touch on a 4-1 Devils win (recap of the game here). Patrik Elias joins the 1000 point club.
Patrik Elias was the 82nd player to reach the milestone and the 15th to do so whilst playing his entire career with one team.
The only emotion you can feel in that moment is pure joy. A player that means so much to the club reaching such a huge mark in their career. A man who made many great memories for the fans over the nineteen years, and two Stanley Cup wins, leading up to this achievement.
As someone who became a Devils fan late in Patrik Elias’s career I feel privileged to have been able to see him get to 1000 points. His 1000th point wasn’t a moment of greatness and it came on an empty net goal. But that doesn’t matter one bit.
What I think is my fondest memory of Patrik Elias, and I think this rings even truer today than ever, was his consistency. And this is true on multiple fronts. First off, Elias was a consistent contributor in a competitive New Jersey Devils organization for a very long time. Between 1998 and 2014, Elias provided at least 50 points in every season he played at least 60 games, which was almost every single season (source: Hockey-Reference). In those 15 seasons I am referring to, in 12 of those he had a minimum of 50 points. In those other 3, he was still highly productive as well. In 2005-06, after his crazy Hep A situation, he came back and produced 45 points in 38 games in which was possibly one of his greatest stretches of his career. In 2009-10, he produced 48 points in 58 games, and would have easily surpassed 50 or even 60 points had he played a full season. And finally, he had 36 points in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, which again would have put him over 50 points if the season was 82 games.
That kind of consistency is hard to come by in the NHL, especially over such a long time period. Some players might provide a quality level of play for a few years, and the better players will provide that for up to a decade. But for 15 straight years to provide one organization with that highly consistent production? That is quite nearly impossible to come by. One reason the Devils were so good from 1995-2010 was because of the consistency of some key players, all of whom will be in the rafters after Elias’ retirement ceremony. No one might have been more consistent than Martin Brodeur, but Elias was the one forward who gave this team that consistency year-in and year-out. For this club, that was absolutely invaluable.
Of course, consistency also relates to loyalty too, and when I think of his consistency, I think of him wearing the red and black every single year. To have one player choose to play for one organization, especially that one being in New Jersey and not some major city, is really unique in this day and age, and he chose to do that. In terms of what that provided for our favorite team, words cannot fully describe. That endears fans to the team, and certainly to the player. In the end, while there are many amazing specific memories of Patrik Elias that I have as a fan, what I will really remember and treasure from his playing days is his consistency. Consistency both in terms of production on the ice and loyalty to one organization. That cannot be replaced, and it is why his jersey will be hung from the rafters and revered by Devils fans every time they enter the Rock.
Elias has given us so many great memories it’s hard to rank them. I think like a lot of people, my favorite memory of Elias would be his pass to Arnott to win the Cup in 2000. However, I’d also like to acknowledge his role in helping the Devils overcome a 3-1 series deficit to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals that year.
The Devils won the opening game before dropping the next 3. It seemed like it was inevitable that the Devils would eventually be eliminated. In classic Elias fashion, he led the team out of that hole with a goal and an assist in 20 minutes of ice time in Game 5. He didn’t score in Game 6 but put in nearly 20 minutes of solid defensive hockey in a closely contested match. I remember feeling like the Devils were actually going to pull this comeback off ahead of Game 7 and sure enough, Elias made sure they did with 2 goals in Philly to send the Devils to the Cup Final. Here is the first goal:
And here is the second (Aside from John: I did a breakdown of this goal here)
Elias was always one of those few players that could inspire hope and confidence through his skill, competitiveness, and clutchness.
So many goals, so many assists, so many individual moments of brilliance. If I had to choose one that encapsulates the type of player he was, it’s the goal that he scored to open that magical 2012 run to the Stanley Cup Final.
He was smart: In this particular play he notices an opening and slips into an uncovered area. He was patient: After getting the puck from Danius Zubrus, he doesn’t just shovel it into the crest on José Théodore’s jersey. He was skilled: He dangles the puck, as if on a string, which prompts Théodore to flop around trying to make a desperation save. He was scorer: He picks his spot, and flicks the puck into the net from a sharp angle. I distinctly remember thinking at the time, “Uh, wow.” It was an impressive individual effort by one of the best to pull on the red, black and white sweater. Thanks for the memories, Patrik.
John: I’m cheating a bit as Dan put up a tweet in response to Bryce Salvador, who asked a similar question on Twitter recently. It is worth sharing because it goes to show that Elias weaved so much magic, that a lot of people can remember different moments of greatness. If you can’t view the video link in the Tweet, then here’s the link. (And here’s the recap of that game too.)
I know lots of people will say the goal against the Flyers or the assist to Arnott but this one in particular resonates with me. Watched this one and went nuts during my semester abroad in the Netherlands, it was around 12:30 AM when it happened: https://t.co/PF3wDwbAiE— #TrappedintheMetroDivision (@RozelGSN) February 22, 2018
As with Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, and Zach Parise before July 4, 2012, I was fortunate and blessed to have watched Elias throughout his career. As a young player, he was a point-machine while dominating in both ends of the rink. If CF% was around back in the early 2000s, I think Elias would have received a lot more love than he did get. That he made comeback from Hepatitis A in 2006 and played like a man on fire with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta alone made him a legend. This was a player who did it all, did it all for New Jersey, and played like the English soccer-common phrase, “Form is temporary, class is forever” was made for him.
But my absolute favorite memory of #26 has to be when he created one of the greatest Stanley Cup winning goals in the history of the NHL. The date was June 10, 2000. The game was in Dallas. The situation was in double overtime. This is the play :
I saw it live on TV. I broke down this goal way back in 2013. I’m still marveling at it on February 23, 2018. A blind back-hand pass across the slot! In double overtime! Against a team as tight as the Devils defensively! What’s more is that yesterday, Elias had an article at the Players Tribune where he reflects on his career in hockey. He wrote about how this play even happened:
I remember how many hours and hours that me, Petr [Sykora] and Jason Arnott used to mess around after practice, just floating into empty spaces at the back post and throwing blind passes to one another, in order to develop a sixth sense for where we’d be.
I remember in second overtime of Game 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals, I got the puck in the corner, and I threw a blind pass to the empty space where I figured, based on hours and hours of messing around, that Arnott might be waiting.
I remember turning around and just seeing Arny’s arms go up into the air, and realizing that we had won the Stanley Cup.
It wasn’t just a thing to try out. It was something they practiced. That makes the play even better in my eyes.
Elias would undoubtedly become the most accomplished forward for this organization. From sticking with the Devils, to being the first forward to play over 1,000 games as a Devil, to being the first player to earn 1,000 points, to becoming the franchise leader in goals with over 400, to winning two Stanley Cups, and to driving the play and leading by example on the ice throughout his career. But that play alone more than just carved his name on the greatest trophy in sports. He cemented his status as a legend on June 10, 2000 with that pass. “The Pass,” as reader EliasStillRocks calls it in this FanPost. That alone was enough. But Elias he could not, would not, and definitely did not stop there.
As this blog has been around for a significant part of Elias’ career, we have had many posts written about him. Here are a select few to check out:
- This is what Mike wrote back on March 31, 2017 when Elias announced his retirement. Read for the great summary, marvel at the clip from the 2006 sweeping of the Rangers that Mike included.
- Alex followed Mike’s post with a post containing many highlight clips of Elias. Some are in this post, others are not, but it’s all good.
- I broke down Elias’ 400th career goal, scored against Toronto on February 8, 2015. In September 2016, Gerard fondly remembered this goal.
- Back in 2015 and referenced on a recent episode of Talking Red, CJ made this case for Elias in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- While we’ve had a lot of posts like end-of-season awards, I’m especially pleased to highlight that it was Elias who we named as MVP of the 2011-12 season. Check it out also to get a sense of what the site was like back when, you know, the Devils made the playoffs.
- Not a post but a fun fact: If you search Patrik Elias at this site, there are 2,149 posts that mention him and 10,920 comments that mention Elias.
The doors to the Rock open at 4:30. At 5:45 PM, the Devils will play a documentary in the arena about Patty’s Last Lap. The TV broadcast will start at 6 PM. The ceremony will start at 6:15 PM. Warm-ups and re-surfacing of the rink will take place after. The actual game will start at 8:08 PM. And #26 will forever be in the rafters where it belongs.
You know what we think of Elias and what we remember best about his Devils career. You may share some of them, you may not, but we want to know either way. What was your favorite Elias moment? How will you best remember as a Devil? Is there an Elias-like player in the NHL today? (My guess: sort-of Patrice Bergeron?) Please leave your answers in the comments. Thank you for reading.