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Let’s (Re)Watch: 2003 Stanley Cup Final Game 7

Twenty years ago, the New Jersey Devils won their third of three Stanley Cups. Today, we relive the moment they will remember for a lifetime.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils
The Devils honored the 2003 Stanley Cup Team earlier this year. Let’s rewatch their crowning moment.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

With the dog days of summer upon us and hockey several weeks away, there’s only so many times one can write about how the Devils can acquire a franchise goaltender, what players they should consider signing, or whatever other issue might be plaguing the team on an otherwise slow news day.

Rather than rehash those old narratives and run those topics into the ground, I thought it would be fun to do something different this week. I’m a fan of running diaries, watch parties, and that type of content. I thought it would be fun to pick a historic Devils game and rewatch it with some commentary and excellent takes from yours truly.

Today will be the first entry into a new series I call “Let’s (Re)Watch”, where I pick a classic Devils game, post the link to it, timestamp it, and we re-watch it as a group and reminisce about the good old days. What better way to start with a re-watch of Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, the last time the Devils won the Stanley Cup.

Maybe you’re a younger fan who missed this game the first time around and want to see what the fuss was all about when the Devils were winning championships. Or perhaps you are an older fan who remembers the game clearly and wants to watch it again while remembering and acknowledging some guys. Either way, I got you covered.

The Devils celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 2003 team during this past season. They also fall right into that sweet spot of me being old enough to remember exactly where I was watching it live at the time, but I haven’t revisited the game outside of a random highlight package here or there, so I don’t remember a lot of the finer details. I suspect that if you’re reading this, you’re probably like me in that regard. Who can blame you? Who has time to re-watch hockey games from 20 years ago and write about it? Apparently, I do.

Without further adieu, let’s (re)watch 2003 Game 7 of the Cup Final!

The Game: 2003 Stanley Cup Final Game 7 - The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim @ New Jersey Devils

The Backstory: You’re familiar with all of the key members of the Devils, as future Hockey Hall of Famers Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, and Martin Brodeur were the leaders of this team. Other key members include Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski, Brian Gionta, Jamie Langenbrunner, HHOFer Joe Nieuwendyk (who was injured for the Cup Final and did not play), and Jeff Friesen, who came over from the Mighty Ducks in an offseason trade and scored several clutch goals for the Devils throughout that run. Several other longtime Devils on that roster include current assistant coach Sergei Brylin, John Madden, Colin White, Jay Pandolfo, and of course Mr. Devil himself, Ken Daneyko. Coached by future Hockey Hall of Famer Pat Burns, the Devils dispatched of the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Playoffs on their way to the Cup Final.

The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were a team loaded with names that Devils fans and hockey fans in general would become familiar with in the years that followed. Leading the way for Anaheim was their captain and future Hockey Hall of Famer Paul Kariya. One of the biggest stories throughout the Cup Final was the matchup of the Niedermayer brothers, with Scott in New Jersey and Rob in Anaheim. Rob would wind up joining the Devils for one season in 2009-10, well after his brother Scott left for the Ducks in free agency. Former Devil Petr Sykora was the leading scorer for the Ducks in the Cup Final. Other Ducks with former or future Devils ties include Steve Thomas (played with NJ for 3 seasons from 1995-1998), Adam Oates (assistant coach from 2010-12, co-head coach to finish the 2014-15 season), Niclas Havelid (played 15 games with the Devils in 2008-09), and Vitaly Vishnevski (played 69 games with the Devils in 2007-08). Former Mighty Ducks winger Dan Bylsma would go on to coach the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2008-09. Then first-time NHL head coach Mike Babcock would continue his coaching career with stops in Detroit (where he won the Cup in 2007-08), Toronto, and most recently, Columbus, as he was named Blue Jackets head coach on July 1.

The biggest reason why the Mighty Ducks made the Cup Final though was the man in net. Jean-Sebastian Giguere. Giguere was a revelation for the Mighty Ducks in his first taste of postseason action, posting a .965 save percentage in a four game sweet over the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. He followed that up with a .936 and one shutout in six games against the Dallas Stars and a .992 with three shutouts in a sweep over the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference Final. Giguere never quite reached those heights again, but that’s not a knock on a guy who posted a .945 save percentage with 5 shutouts in one postseason. He continued to be a very good goaltender for several seasons and got over the hump a few years later when the rebranded Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2006-07.

Both teams traded victories on home ice throughout the Stanley Cup Final, setting the scene for a decisive Game 7 in the Meadowlands.

The Broadcast Booth: Gary Thorne, Bill Clement, and John Davidson

The Video (credit to “Virgil Moody” on YouTube):

0:33 - Gary Thorne covers the only lineup change for the Game 7 for either team, as Ken Daneyko was reinserted into the lineup for Game 7. Daneyko was a healthy scratch for the first six games of this series. Prior to this postseason, Daneyko had played in every postseason game in New Jersey Devils history. As Thorne notes, we’ll see if his presence in the lineup gives the team a lift. The home crowd is loud from the jump.

2:59 - Daneyko’s first touch of the puck comes after the Mighty Ducks clear the zone and the Devils fans give Mr. Devil a warm reception.

4:26 - The broadcast mentions how Martin Brodeur will have to be sharp as this is the best the Mighty Ducks have looked early in any game this series. We’ll see how that shakes out, but nothing from the first 3:27 of play jumps out at me to suggest the Devils are in trouble.

5:59 - The Devils get their first good scoring chance of the game as Mike Rupp escapes the clutches of Jason Krog while cycling behind the net and fires a turnaround wrister on net that Giguere stops. I wonder if we’ll hear from him again before the night is done.

7:45 - We get our first mention of the Scott Stevens hit that laid out on Paul Kariya in Game 6. Since they didn’t show a replay on the broadcast, lets watch it below. Be warned though, it is tough to watch if you’re squeamish when it comes to big hits.

Twenty years later and knowing what we now know about head injuries, I don’t know how Kariya managed to not only finish that game but score a huge goal. I can’t imagine if this was in 2023, Kariya is allowed to continue, let alone play in a Game 7 two nights later. I also don’t know that Stevens escapes without a suspension, even knowing the NHL Department of Player Safety isn’t exactly consistent when it comes to when they pretend to care about player safety. I’m not saying the Stevens hit was dirty or that he deserved to be suspended, because I don’t believe that. I also don’t say this to try to get up on a soapbox about big hits or anything like that, but when you rewatch him leaving the ice with jello legs, its just hard to comprehend that Kariya scored the biggest goal of his life roughly 20 minutes later in real time. And its harder to comprehend both players are playing in Game 7.

On a much more positive note, I am happy that Kariya got into the Hall of Fame a few years back as he was one of my favorite non-Devils players of that era. And even though I’m obviously rooting for the Devils, “Off the floor, on the board” is a fantastic call by Thorne on the Kariya goal.

10:35 - If you’re a fan of big, heavy hockey, you’ll love this shift. The Devils duo of Turner Stevenson & Pascal Rheaume put in some work along the boards, leading to a scoring chance but more importantly, wearing the Mighty Ducks out. They imposed their will on this shift to create something out of nothing.

11:38 - We cut to a Sam Ryan interview with “24” star Kiefer Sutherland. Jack Bauer apparently decided to not only attend this game, but play this decisive Game 7 down the middle, hope both teams have fun, and may the best team win. I don’t need that kind of neutrality in a Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final in my life. Miss me with that.


ABC had a running series of black and white photos of players from both teams that they used for their production graphics during stoppages in play so we could get to know the players better. It looks like something GQ magazine might have thrown together 20 minutes prior to puck drop. I’ve seen Powerpoint presentation’s with better production value.

15:56 - We get our first mention tonight of how Mighty Ducks center Adam Oates has never been closer to a Stanley Cup than he is right now. I don’t remember much of Oates from his playing days outside of his years in Boston and that he was a Hall of Fame caliber player, but I would’ve been crushed at the time had he won after we were force fed the Ray Bourque lovefest two years earlier. This was still pre-2004 ALCS Boston Red Sox comeback and my sports hatred of all things New England was still at an all-time high.

16:56 - While talking about Brodeur dealing with a sore knee and groin, the broadcast casually mentions that this is his 102nd game played this season. My knees and groin hurt after hearing that and remembering that yeah, Marty used to play that many games back then. I feel pretty confident in saying we will never see that from a goaltender ever again.

18:34 - John. Madden.

Credit: ABC

18:37 - Seconds later, play opens up a bit. Giguere makes a stop but can’t control the rebound which leads to another chance. Brylin has a chance all alone in front that Giguere turns away and the Mighty Ducks are off to the races the other way. Sandis Ozolinsh feeds a puck in front that nearly gets redirected in for a 1-0 Anaheim lead, but is fortunately turned aside. The Devils come right back after Grant Marshall intercepts a pass in the offensive zone that leads to another scoring chance.

22:37 - Turner Stevenson is called for boarding. Kind of a meh call for a Game 7. Alas....

24:13 - Patrik Elias nearly scores short-handed on the Devils best chance thus far. Credit to Giguere for a great save. Maybe the Devils should’ve taken a penalty earlier. The Devils would go on to kill the rest of the Stevenson penalty, holding Anaheim to zero shots on goal.

25:02 - Thorne, Clement, and Davidson ponder whether or not Giguere can win Conn Smythe even if the Mighty Ducks lose. He would be the 5th player from a losing team to do so. I would probably go with the goaltender who outplayed Giguere throughout the Stanley Cup Final to this point, but what do I know?

26:54 - After an icing, the first period comes to an end. No score.

30:04 - Early in the second period and after a bit of a Devils offensive flurry, Brodeur drifts towards the corner to play the puck. Now that Marty has been retired for 8 years or so, can we finally get rid of the Martyzoid?

I’m also just now noticing Nextel was one of the sponsors along the boards. I had one of those Nextel phones back in 2003-2004. I can only imagine how annoying it would be now if those were still around.

30:29 - 1-0 New Jersey.

The Devils are finally on the board with Rupp redirecting a Niedermayer shot from the point past Giguere’s five hole and in. Giguere is particularly heated as he whacks at the loose puck in disgust after the fact. I love this. I love that a team not exactly known for big time offensive prowess had Mike Rupp score the biggest goal of his life in Game 7 of a Cup Final. I love the analogy moments later about how now these Devils are like a tourniquet once they get a lead. I love all of this.

Also, its nice to hear the fans just cheering after a goal and not shoehorning “Hey, You Suck” into the goal song. Folks, these were much simpler times back then.

32:15 - Thorne mentions the Devils are 10-0 when scoring first in the playoffs. Can they tie the 1984 Edmonton Oilers at 11-0?

(Spoiler alert: What do you think?)

33:34 - Rob Niedermayer goes off for interference and the Devils get their first power play. It may surprise you to hear the Devils power play was bad back then too. It’s not hyperbole either as people like to pretend the 2023 Devils have the worst power play in the league. The 2003 team actually did have the worst power play in the league, converting at 11.9% during the regular season.

It may also surprise you that Rupp saw time on PP1, likely in part because of his size and because nothing else Pat Burns threw at the wall worked with regularity so why the hell not? Maybe Lindy Ruff was on to something two years ago when Nathan Bastian saw time on PP1 for similar reasons.

36:15 - Much like yours truly in college, the Devils power play didn’t score. Gary Thorne cracks jokes about the ineptitude of the Devils with the man advantage. I want to crawl into a hole.

36:42 - Come for the Scott Gomez black and white photo when he still had a full head of hair. Stay for the mention of the time he was on “One Life to Live” and when he was one of People Magazine’s Top 50 Bachelors in 2001.

37:17 - Sam Ryan interviews Steve DeSena and Christina SerVoss from California, who have made the trip to the most magical place on Earth in 2003.....East Rutherford, New Jersey. The lovebirds will get married if the Mighty Ducks win the Stanley Cup. Who knows what will happen if they don’t?

I wonder whatever happened to them. Are they still together? Did they have children? Did they refuse to play Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen at the wedding reception because the Devils ruined New Jersey for them forever? If this was 2023, do the Devils social media team troll the couple by sending NJ Devil to celebrate their wedding anyways? Did they flip over a car in Orange County four years later when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup? Was any of this covered in the Mighty Ducks 30 for 30? I need answers.

40:04 - Thorne mentions that Stevens is playing in his 233rd playoff game, tied for third all-time. Stevens is now 6th all time. That is the second time here where I’ve had to stop the game because of a number that is hard to comprehend. My knees and groin are sore again.

For context, the most by an active player is Corey Perry at 196, good for 25th all time. Ryan McDonagh (185), Joe Pavelski (182), Sidney Crosby (180), and Evgeni Malkin (177) round out the active Top 5.

40:41 - The Mighty Ducks have their best offensive shift of the game and another scoring chance after the Devils clear to the neutral zone. Anaheim didn’t score on either sequence. I don’t want to say it’s over, particularly because this is a 20 year old hockey game that we know the result of, but you can hear a bit of a buzz in the crowd like they already know this one is a wrap. Brodeur continues to do Brodeur things, Anaheim ices the puck, and we have a TV timeout with nine minutes and change left in the second period.

If there was a sequence in this game where one could say “This is where Martin Brodeur won the Conn Smythe”, this would be it. Nothing too flashy or over the top spectacular, but Brodeur made the critical saves that needed to be made to keep the Devils ahead 1-0, and Anaheim realistically stood no chance of winning.

44:42 - Darren Pang checks in (how many analysts does one game need) and points out how Jamie Langenbrunner whacks the knob of Giguere’s stick just prior to the Rupp goal to make it 1-0. That, along with the frustration of being down 1-0 in an elimination game, would explain the mini temper tantrum I referenced afterwards.

Giguere got reset well before Rupp’s goal beat him so I don’t think it would’ve made any difference on the play, but man, am I glad replay review wasn’t a thing back then. The conspiracy theories would’ve been something else if the boys in Toronto, Gary Bettman, or any of his cronies screwed the Devils out of that goal.

44:59 - “Complain, complain, complain”. I love Gary Thorne.

45:15 - New Jersey 2, Anaheim 0.

You gotta love hard working goals like this. After the Devils get it in deep, Jeff Friesen chips it along the boards for Rupp to retrieve. Langenbrunner is there to work the puck back to Niedermayer for the shot on goal. Giguere leaves a big rebound, Rupp is in front to find Friesen, and Friesen slips it past Giguere for the 2-0 lead. As the announcing crew mentions, the Continental Airlines Arena is indeed rocking.

46:41 - Jeff Friesen’s favorite movie is American Pie. Coincidentally, that was also my favorite movie back when I was 17 years old.

His favorite food is Chicken Parm. Nobody tell John Buccigross this. We don’t need this to become a thing 20 years later on ESPN’s NHL broadcasts.

52:30 - “Time and space, time and space. The Ducks don’t have any time or space.”

To be clear, I’m not saying the 2022-23 Devils are the 2003 team, but one area where these teams share similarities and flashes was when they’d give the opposition no time or space to do anything. I hope that’s something that with more experience, better skaters, and a harder forecheck, the modern day version of the Devils can replicate that on their best day. We’ve have seen stretches where this year’s Devils can be suffocating defensively, so we know that trait is in them.

52:45 - I don’t know how Rheaume didn’t score on this play, and the Devils are fortunate they won. Stevenson missed an opportunity on the doorstep for an easy tap in on the loose puck in the crease as his arms were up celebrating. It could’ve potentially been 3-0, but its only 2-0. On a related note, it is LOUD in the Continental Airlines Arena. For Anaheim, it may as well be 10-0 against this Devils team.

58:27 - The Devils are up 2-0 with 20 minutes to play for a championship. I can not wait until the modern iteration of the team is in this position.

1:00:22 - Example #42069 of why home ice (and more specifically, last change) matters. Stevens absolutely owned Kariya in this series, and I’m not talking about the big hit in Game 6. Holding the other team’s best player to just 2 shots on net in the four games in New Jersey? Matchups matter for this very reason. It’s huge if you can take the other team’s best player away and make the Dan Bylsmas of the world beat you instead.

1:01:13 - You really can’t script this. Rupp in a partial breakaway with Langenbrunner for a scoring chance. He didn’t score, but Rupp has easily been the best forward for either team in this game. Which makes it all the more befuddling that with how random hockey can be, a guy who wound up becoming a journeyman 4th-liner played the game of his life in a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

1:03:02 - Brian Engblom, who by my count is the sixth person to chime in on this game, does a quick little feature on Kariya during a stoppage in play. On a related note, Kariya has no time or space to do anything with how the Devils are swarming to him. The Devils are putting on a defensive clinic.

We also get a brief mention of the 2003 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets, meaning the NBA and Stanley Cup Final were both being played in the same building the same week. Game 3 of the NBA Finals was the night before this game. I don’t know if the combination of the June weather, an older arena with out of date facilities, and the fact an NBA Finals game was played in the building the night before impacted the ice at all, but thems the breaks. The Devils earned home-ice advantage over the Mighty Ducks, and weird stuff like this comes with the territory when you earn that advantage. Considering the home team won every game this series, they needed it.

1:06:19 - Anaheim makes what winds up being one of their final big pushes of the game. Mike Leclerc makes a move from behind the goal line to get to the front of the net. Nobody on Anaheim can beat Brodeur. The Devils finally clear the puck and get a much needed line change. Still 2-0 Devils with just under 15 minutes to play.

1:09:15 - “If the Ducks can get the next goal, they’re right back in this game”

Or the Devils will shut down everything in the neutral zone and make the Mighty Ducks go 200 feet to generate anything.

1:09:44 - Sam Ryan gives us a report on Carol Niedermayer, mother of Scott and Rob. I can’t imagine what was going through her head watching her two boys compete against each other with the stakes this high.

We also get the black and white photo of the Niedermayer brothers. Part of me wants to hate Rob for Scott leaving in free agency, while the other part of me is appreciative of the time we had with Scott. In a lot of ways, the Devils championship window slammed shut when Scott left as the Devils simply could not replace him. It might have taken the Devils nearly 20 years, but maybe they finally came close to replacing him with Luke Hughes. Time will tell on that one.

Meanwhile, the Mighty Ducks are starting to cheat a little more for offense, leading to a Jay Pandolfo partial breakaway where he sailed the shot over Giguere’s net. Understandable from Anaheim’s perspective, but too little, too late. The Devils are winning in the neutral zone. They’re winning in the defensive zone keeping everything to the outside. They’re just winning, period.

1:12:10 - “This gun’s for hire. Even if we’re just dancin’ in the dark.”

I’m not a Springsteen guy, but that song slaps. It will always slap. If you disagree, you are wrong.

1:14:46 - The Mighty Ducks keep winning offensive zone faceoffs. This has been a recurring theme in the third period with how many times the Devils have iced the puck, as they’re content to simply chip the puck out and live to play another day and another shift.

Keep this in mind the next time someone says faceoffs matter. Once again, they really do not.....for the most part. They certainly don’t matter as much as winning races to loose pucks or winning board battles to get a clear. Roughly nine minutes to go.

1:17:28 - We get a Stanley Cup Flashback to two years earlier when the Devils lost Game 7 to the Avalanche. A bottom three moment in franchise history, for me at least. It’s right there for me with losing to the Rangers in 1994 and the Hurricanes in 2009. Some could point to the recent rebuilding years as a bottom moment in franchise history, but I would put those in a separate category from when the Devils were good enough to compete for championships.

We also get our first live shot of the Stanley Cup, which is indeed in the building. I’m glad it didn’t get stuck in traffic like what happened to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. If you think the Devils are the butt of jokes now, imagine how much worse things would be if the Stanley Cup was stuck somewhere on Route 3 while the Devils were winning the Cup.

Lord Stanley bought the Stanley Cup for $48.67, which is about what I spent on gym shorts on Prime Day last week.

1:18:53 - Brian Gionta gains the offensive zone and outmuscles a larger defenseman who is draped all over him to shovel a shot towards the net. Which is weird because I was specifically told you can’t win with 5’7”, 178 lb forwards. Maybe compete level just means more than simply being large. Big, if true. Just over six minutes left in this game, so we’ll see if that is indeed the case.

Thorne correctly points out that Brodeur deserves Conn Smythe consideration while Clement and Davidson are pointing out the Devils are the more complete team (while making the case for Giguere). Meanwhile, the crowd is chanting “We Want the Cup”. Four minutes and change remaining.

1:20:37 - Our lovebirds are shown on screen. For some reason, they’re not sitting in the same row, as DeSena is sitting one row in front of SerVoss. They’re also no longer wearing Mighty Ducks jerseys (which are impeccable, by the way.....much better than the ones they’ve worn in recent years) in enemy territory.

Probably a good call to ditch the Mighty Ducks jerseys in this spot though. We’re partying tonight in the Meadowlands, there’s no need for an incident with some idiot who is partying a little too hard and rubbing it in.

1:22:15 - New Jersey 3, Anaheim 0. Game, set, match.

Friesen makes a play in the neutral zone to pokecheck the puck away from the Ducks. Rupp (who else) controls the puck along the boards and finds Friesen who makes a slippery move to the middle and snaps it past Giguere to make it 3-0 Devils with 3:44 to go.

How can you not love the celebration by Friesen with him holding his stick above his head and the big hug with Rupp? The rest of the game is a formality at this point. The celebration is on.

Leclerc is going to the box with 3:15 left. I don’t think anyone is going to care that the 2002-03 Devils power play fails one final time to score.

1:26:41 - Credit to Pat Burns for having the wherewithal to get Daneyko out on the ice in the final minute. I don’t know when Daneyko decided to retire, but he’s a 20 year veteran with well over 1400 games played under his belt between regular season and playoffs. I’m sure the thought that this is the end crossed his mind at some point during that run when he was a healthy scratch. To be out there for the final minute, winning a championship, and getting to go out on your own terms as a champion. Not a lot of professional athletes have that moment or can say that. Daneyko can.

1:27:39 - “The celebration starts. The New Jersey Devils for the third time in their history have won the Stanley Cup. The Devils three, the Ducks nothing. Devils, Stanley Cup champions!” - Gary Thorne

Great job by Thorne, Clement, and Davidson sitting back and letting the moment breathe.....even as “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi blared over the speakers. The Devils get a measure of retribution after what happened to them two years prior in Denver. The Mighty Ducks wonder what could’ve been and if they’ll ever get back to this point.

1:31:00 - The traditional handshake line! As the broadcast noted, Stevens and Kariya hugged. Scott and Rob Niedermayer had a moment on the line. Giguere was in tears after coming so close to the Cup. As one would expect, the Mighty Ducks players are devastated, while the Devils are jubilant.

1:32:51 - It’s time for the presentation of the Conn Smythe Trophy. Surely, they will give it to the goaltender who pitched three shutouts in the Cup Final, including Game 7 and had a .925 save percentage vs. a .910%.

1:33:20 - They did not. And I still don’t get this decision 20 years later.

Yes, I get the Conn Smythe is for the MVP of the entire postseason, and yes, I get that Giguere was the better player throughout the entire postseason. But generally speaking, I don’t believe in giving the MVP to a player from the losing team, and I don’t get picking the goaltender from that team when the guy opposite him played better when the teams met head-to-head. I get the Devils had the better roster, but in the biggest games, Brodeur outplayed Giguere. I might be in the minority with this opinion, but I still believe Brodeur was robbed.

The fans booed. The fans were right to boo despite Clement scalding them for doing so, for whatever reason. You would think a man who played and broadcasted hockey in Philadelphia for many years would understand why the fans might be annoyed here. It is what it is and nothing can change it. The Devils and Brodeur got the last laugh as they won the Cup. That is what truly matters.

1:35:16 - “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Stanley Cup!”

One of my favorite parts of the Stanley Cup ceremony, aside from seeing your team lift the Cup, is seeing who gets the Cup after the captain gets it first and the order they go in. We’ve seen teams often hand it to one of the longest-tenured players who hasn’t won it before, but the closest the Devils have to an “old guy without a Cup” from that group was probably Turner Stevenson, who played parts of 11 seasons before being part of a championship team (Stevenson played 1 game for the Montreal Canadiens in 1992-93 when they won the Cup). The Devils have been here a few times so they could go in a variety of directions.

Scott Stevens accepts the Stanley Cup from Gary Bettman, and the order goes as follows.

Captain Scott Stevens

Alternate Captain Scott Niedermayer

Alternate Captain Patrik Elias

Ken Daneyko

Martin Brodeur

Joe Nieuwendyk

Turner Stevenson

Jamie Langenbrunner

Jay Pandolfo

At this point, Sam Ryan is interviewing Brodeur and the ABC cameras cut away from the players handing off the Cup, so I don’t know who received the cup right after Pandolfo. But it appears to change hands a few times before someone hands it off to Jeff Friesen.

Jeff Friesen

Scott Gomez

Brian Rafalski

Sergei Brylin

Sam Ryan is interviewing Stevens, so the ABC cameras cut away again. When they come back, Pascal Rheaume has the Cup. Rheaume hands it to backup goaltender Corey Schwab.

Darren Pang interviews John Madden. The cameras cut to Pat Burns with the Cup over his head before handing it to Niedermayer who hands it to Jim McKenzie. I’m assuming someone, likely Niedermayer, realized McKenzie didn’t get his lap with the Cup and rectified that. I’d be mortified if I was one of the leaders of the team and I knew one of the players didn’t get that chance to skate with it. McKenzie then handed it to Brian Gionta.

Sam Ryan interviews Joe Nieuwendyk, who didn’t play in the Cup Final after suffering an injury in the previous series. Ryan tosses it over to Darren Pang who is with Jeff Friesen. After the Friesen interview, the team gathers at center ice.

Overall, I’d probably grade the Devils an 8.5/10 for the order in which they handed the Cup off given the information we have. If I were going to nitpick, Stevens probably should’ve given it to Daneyko first but this might be a case where hindsight is 20/20 and I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that maybe Daneyko would’ve played one more season. I don’t know where Tommy Albelin fell in the pecking order and Sergei Brylin should’ve gotten it before some of the names in front of him. But the captains and alternate captains got it first, followed by most of the veterans, and then the younger players on the roster. It’s also not like they plan all this out beforehand down to a tee.

I suspect I’m the only person who really cares about any of this. I also have thoughts on what the order should be if the Devils were to win the Cup this season, but I will keep that to myself. The Hockey Gods can be vengeful if one gets out of line.

1:44:17 - Obligatory team photo with them celebrating at center ice. You truly love to see it.

1:45:00 - Sam Ryan checks in with our lovebirds, who are now in the tunnel for some reason. It looks like they might be credentialed (how else would they be in the tunnel), so they were presumably invited by the Mighty Ducks. They also have their Mighty Ducks jerseys back on. They’re disappointed they did not win, but that doesn’t mean they go home losers as Steve drops to a knee and popped the question anyways. She said yes! The Ducks also won the Cup four years later. They got their Disney fairytale ending. Good for them.

Chris Berman joins the broadcast for a few final thoughts before ABC signed off the air.

Final Thoughts

First of all, that was a lot of fun rewatching the game. I don’t think I realized how good Rupp was in that game even though I knew he scored the Cup-winning goal. I can read a boxscore and see he had three points, but he definitely made an impact as an unlikely hero. There’s not a lot of individual performances that jump out aside from the obvious candidates like Brodeur, Stevens, Friesen, and Niedermayer, but that’s also kind of the point when talking about the team effort.

The biggest thing that jumps out at me was the workman like approach this team had. Obviously, this isn’t surprising knowing how the teams generally were back then, but this was a no-frills, nothing fancy about it, meat and potatoes kind of performance. Some would say that style of hockey is boring, but others would see the type of defensive clinic and team effort the Devils put forth and how this game was representative of that and those types of teams. The Devils might’ve caught a break in that Anaheim knocked off some of the Western Conference powerhouses like Detroit and Dallas, but its not like the Devils were some sort of slouch or a Cinderella story in their own regard. They were a well-coached, veteran team that took care of their own business and knocked off a Lightning team that won the Cup the following season, the President’s Trophy winning Ottawa Senators, and were pushed to the limit by an Anaheim team on an all-time heater. The last Devils championship team we’ve seen earned what they got and got what they earned, and in a lot of ways, Game 7 against the Ducks was representative of the team they were.

That’s how I feel about this game. What were your takeaways from this game, the 2003 team in general, and what game would you want to see me do next? I’d like to write a few more of these over the summer, so feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments. I only ask that the game is posted on YouTube so I have something to easily reference. Please feel free to leave a comment and thanks for reading.