Will Elias Still Rock?

The venerable Patrik Elias is one of the greatest forwards in Devils history. He holds a handful of offensive records on the team, has two Stanley Cups to his name, four finals appearances, and has his sweater retired in the rafters of The Rock in Newark, New Jersey. To say that he is loved, adored, and respect by many-a Devils fan, as well as the organization, is not a stretch. As one could tell by my AAtJ name, I am quite a fan of "Patty". He is my all-time favorite Devils player, and like many, was able to enjoy his career from start to finish. We watched him make amazing moves, score memorable goals, and hoist two Stanley Cups. For all he has done to help the Devils win over the years, I will always appreciate him.

One of the specific records he currently holds is the Devils' single season record for points in a season with 96, having scored 40 goals and 56 assists in 82 games played in the 2000-01 season. As many well know, Jack Hughes, the 2019 #1 Overall Pick, and New Jersey's current leading scorer for the 2022-23 season, is on the cusp of matching and possibly surpassing Patrik Elias' record. Right now there are four games left in the season, and Jack has 40 goals, 51 assists, and 91 points in 74 games. Jack is very close. He might have very well passed the record already if he'd had those handful of games back from his minor injury, but I digress. This is about right now. Is Jack Hughes close enough to pass the record in the allotted four games left? To break it down... at Jack's current points-per-game pace of 1.22, he might just come a hair shy of Patty's record, possibly tying it, but not beating it. However, that's only if you go by those current numbers. We've all seen Jack go on heaters before, racking up bunches of points in a short amount of time. Jack could easily surpass the record by several points. Then again, he could hit a cold streak and stagnate at 91 points for the rest of the season. It will be very close, but anything is possible. All I know is, with the Playoffs coming up this team may just start heating up, so whether Jack breaks the record or not, it's going to be fun to watch this team play. And it's going to be even more fun to see this young team prepare to play in their first playoffs as a group. Jack hitting a new record is a secondary bonus.

Now let's sidestep to a more serious topic. I am clearly a huge Patrik Elias fan. What does that mean for me?! As a Patty fan, do I really want Jack Hughes, another player, to break the record currently held by my favorite player? Do I want Elias pushed down to a barely-inconsequential 2nd spot? Do I want Jack Hughes to have all the glory that is currently bestowed upon my beloved Patrik Elias? To be honest, I'm torn. Elias is such an important part of Devils history and an important player in my hockey fandom. As I have said before, he's loved... He's adored... He's respected. And being my favorite Devil doesn't help my emotions or biases in this matter. It's hard to think of him as being #2 in anything, and to see a figurative changing-of-the-guard just makes me feel old. If it was up to me I'd love to keep Patty's name at the top forever, but Jack is such an incredible offensive forward too, and he'd be more than deserving if he did break the record. Because of my adoration for Patty, he will still be number one in my heart no matter what. I am not just the President of the Patrik Elias Club for Fanboys, but I am also a member after all. So if it happens, it happens. It will still be something to be proud of as a Devils fan.

Hell, even if Jack doesn't surpass the record this year, he is still very young, and he will only get better. In truth, Jack passing Patty's record is all but inevitable if I'm completely honest. Sure, Jack has yet to accomplish anything of note like winning a player trophy, or a Stanley Cup, but I feel that that too is inevitable. Jack is one of the most skilled Devils players I have seen in over 35+ years of Devils fandom, and he isn't even a finished product yet. He has several more years to gain strength, improve his growing defense, and learn how to involve his teammates even more than he has. In other words, he will become an even better player than he currently is. And if I think about it, and I consider Patty's humility and love for this team... I think he'd truly be happy if Jack beat his record --- This year, or in the near future. To steal a quote, "Records ARE made to be broken". Elias has always been about a team-first mentality. I don't see that changing because someone passed him in the history books.

Whether the record is broken by Jack Hughes or not, or another Devil down the road, Patrik Elias will always be my absolute favorite New Jersey Devil (until such time as I see fit to change my mind). And Jack Hughes?... he will continue to be an incredibly-amazing player, likely this team's yearly points leader, and maybe one day an even bigger name and better player than Patrik Elias, and that's okay. I am a Devils fan first, a Patty fanboy second, and a fan with huge respect for Jack Hughes. If another Devil hoists a bunch of Stanley Cups, wins trophies, or dominates the Devils record books... I'm okay with it. Any positive news surrounding the Devils is good news in my opinion.

So what say you fellow Devils fans? Do you think Jack Hughes will break Patty's record this year? Do you think Jack won't break it this year, but he ultimately will? Would you be happy if Jack did break the record? And where would Elias stand in your heirachy if Jack did take the record? Let me know below. Until such time as the Devils move to Nashville ;-) .... Keep on Deviling!

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