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Let's Remember Some Guys: New Jersey Devils Edition

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With all sports disappearing indefinitely due to the ongoing pandemic, it is now more than ever our patriotic duty to remember some of the guys of yesteryear.

COREY MILLEN DEVILS
Storied Devils guy, Corey Millen
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We are living in strange times. Surely you don't need to be told that at this point, as the NHL, sports in general, and most of the other facets of society have ground to a halt in the face of a global pandemic that is unprecedented in our lifetimes. With that in mind, I think we all need things to take our mind off of the world outside the windows of our socially-distanced reality. How can we do that, you ask? I submit that there are few better ways to let your mind wander than to remember some Guys.

Remembering Guys is a pastime that has spanned many generations in sports. It's an activity popularized in recent years by the quasi-defunct sports blog, Deadspin, but people have always remembered Guys. It's possible that you have had a parent or relative do some Guy-remembering in your general direction at some point. Maybe it was noted late-70s Yankee Guy Chris Chambliss, or 80s New York Giants special-teamer Guy Phil McConkey, or perhaps, if they were a Devils fan, it was, like, 80s Guy Joe Cirella or something.

What constitutes a Guy? The true essence can be tough to capture and each person's definition will be a little different, but generally speaking, it's a player who did enough to be remembered but also didn't do so much that they are particularly memorable (at least broadly speaking). For example, Patrik Elias is not a Guy, nor are Scott Stevens or Martin Brodeur. They are franchise legends with retired numbers and if you follow the Devils even casually, you are unlikely to have a moment along the lines of “oh yeah, I remember that guy,” which is an essential aspect of Guy-remembering.

There are also players who are short of legend/HOF status who do not fit the bill. From a Devils-fan perspective, someone like Claude Lemieux does not qualify as a Guy. He is far too important to franchise lore to drift from being consistently remembered. Similarly, Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora aren’t really guys, nor are players like John MacLean or Kirk Muller who helped define different eras of Devils hockey. Guy-hood is also perspective dependent, though. For instance, Sergei Brylin doesn't really qualify as a Guy for a Devils fan. He won three cups here and is too much of a franchise cult hero to blend fully into the background. For a general NHL fan, though, he likely has a very high Guy Quotient. There’s no reason for a random Capitals or Canadiens fan to remember much about Sergei Brylin other than perhaps that he existed and did hockey things for the Devils at some point. He is a fairly prototypical Guy outside the organization, even though he has a lot more cachet in the Garden State.

You also have to cross some threshold of notoriety to become a Guy, though. Just being a part of the organization at some point doesn’t get you there. Reaching for an example, lets go with Dave Emma. He played 23 games for the Devils across three seasons in the 90s, but didn’t really do much and disappeared from the league shortly after besides a couple cups of coffee in Boston and Florida multiple years later. I have no memory of Dave Emma, nor is it a name I would have even really linked to the Devils without flipping through random Hockey Reference pages for assorted Devils teams. There’s a certain threshold of notoriety/success in the league you need to hit to and, with apologies to Mr. Emma, I don’t think he gets there. Not a Guy.

So who is a good Devils Guy? I submit for your consideration Corey Millen. Really in the wheelhouse of being a Guy for me. Decent enough career, had a couple solid seasons for the Devils in 1993-94 and 1995, but doesn’t really figure prominently into the story of either of those seasons. I played with him a lot in NHL 95 on Sega Genesis because he was the default 1C for the Devils in that game. Remember Corey Millen? If you are nodding in vague agreement, you’ve got yourself a Guy. So who are some other Devils Guys? Let’s remember some:

Corey Millen

Ken Klee

Bob Carpenter

Lyle Odelein

Anssi Salmela

Alexei Kasatonov

Doug Sulliman

Mike Mottau

Shawn Chambers

Sergei Nemchinov

Craig Billington

Valeri Kamenski

Sheldon Brookbank

Denis Pederson

Rod Pelley

Remember those Guys? Surely at least some of them. Who are some other Devils Guys that you remember?