My fellow Devils fans, I hope this letter finds you well. With that being said, I fear this summer may last forever. With development camp having come and gone, and Connor Carrick having received a new contract, the Devils have gone all but dark. In place of tangibles stories are just rumors swirling around.
They say no news is good news, but with so many teams pressed up near or against the salary cap, there was more hope for more movement just a mere week ago. Now all that’s left is less impactful deals and the aforementioned rumors. The regular season supposedly draws near, but not soon enough.
I promise I’ll write again soon...
Okay, now that we’ve had some fun at the expense of the summer and most of its action having already happened, let’s talk New Jersey Devils; more specifically let’s talk about favorite players, be they past or present, and even favorite lines. CJ sparked the idea yesterday when he compared favorite Devils to Pokemon, and it made me want to see how the fan base feels in terms of their favorites. As I’m the writer of today’s piece, I guess it’s only fair that I start.
Also, I feel that I, or one of the other writers may have done something similar in a past year/offseason. In that regard, people change, the team changes, and it’s fun to see where everyone is with the Devils’ roster of 2019-20 and with all of the past names to choose from.
Current Favorite Devil: Travis Zajac
Call me a sucker for a responsible center, but Zajac maintains his position (at least for now) as my current favorite Devil due to his reliability in all zones of the ice. I always feel the NHL has underappreciated his defensive ability, as the Devils have relied on him for roughly a decade now (even when he was the team’s de facto #1) to shutdown opposing top lines. Aside from a couple of bad seasons when the team as a whole stunk, Zajac hasn’t been an offensive anchor either, and has rebounded each time that fans were concerned that he was regressing to a point of no return.
With 507 career points now at age 34, Travis now sits in 4th place all time for scoring in a Devils uniform, and should pass Kirk Muller for 3rd this season, as he’s only 13 points behind him. Zajac also has a chance to appear in his 1000th NHL contest, another testament to his longevity and reliability.
All-Time Favorite: Scott Stevens
This one was a difficult choice, particularly because I grew up watching arguably some of the best players to ever wear the red and black, but my current pick for all-time favorite had to go to The Captain, as I have come to appreciate him even more as I’ve grown older.
Stevens was the definition of a tenacious defender, but he could be a driving force for the offense as well, which was what helped to make him such a unique player. His acquisition was, in my opinion, the turning point for the franchise from bottom-feeder to legitimate NHL team; while it would take a couple of others to make the group true Stanley Cup contenders, Stevens was always at the center of events that would turn games, and even playoff series, in the team’s favor.
He was rightfully the first jersey ever retired by the franchise, being the first (and currently only) captain to bring the Stanley to New Jersey. While he may currently not have a role with the Devils (he’s serving as an NHL Network analyst) it doesn’t mean that he won’t always have a home with Jersey’s Team.
Favorite Line: The A-Line
Maybe it’s because this was the first named line I was really exposed to as a teen whose love of hockey was growing stronger by the day, but the line of Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora has stood the test of two decades (side note: I can’t BELIEVE it’s been that long now) to remain my favorite Devils’ line.
Part of it’s because they were just so good together for the period of time they were all one united line; another part of it has to due with Patty and Arnott (along with a Scott Stevens secondary assist) bringing home that second Stanley Cup. I think the best reason for why I loved the A-Line was because while the Devils’ hallmark in the 90s/early 2000s was defense, this line showed that the Devils could torch you on the score sheet as another way of beating you. The A-Line made the team complete, and was a big part of why the Devils won the 2000 Stanley Cup Final.
Now I’d like to hear from all of you as to who is your favorite current New Jersey Devil; is it the same as your favorite Devil of all time? If not, who’s your all-time favorite? Any favorite line, or other criteria related to favorite Devils? Leave any and all comments below; thanks as always for reading!