New Jersey Devils: 10 Most Important Moments in Franchise History
The New Jersey Devils, by professional sports standards, are still a young organization. The National Hockey League boasts some of the oldest franchises in North American pro sports, including the Montreal Canadiens, who will celebrate their 100th anniversary this decade. The NHL Stanley Cup is also the oldest professional sports trophy in North America.
The Devils came into existence on June 30, 1982, when the former Colorado Rockies were renamed the New Jersey Devils, and played their first game the following October. Playing in an already-crowded hockey market (the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders all play their home games within 90 miles of the Devils' home ice, with the Rangers just a stone's throw away in Manhattan) coupled with the young franchise's initial losing ways made it difficult to secure a fanbase in the early and mid-'80s.
Since their inception, however, the New Jersey Devils have gone from what Wayne Gretzky once referred to as a "Mickey Mouse operation" to one of the most solid and successful in the NHL.
10. The Devils Arrive in New Jersey: May 27, 1982
New Jersey native and former Houston Astros owner Dr. John McMullen purchased the floundering Colorado Rockies franchise and moved them to East Rutherford, NJ.
9. Patrick Division Championship: April 30, 1988
After beating the Islanders in six games in the division semifinals, the Devils defeated the Capitals in seven games as John MacLean scores the game-winner in Game 7 to advance New Jersey to the Wales Conference Championship.
8. Brodeur Breaks the Record: March 17, 2009
On March 17, 2009, Martin Brodeur solidifies his place in history, recording his NHL-record 552nd win in a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks.
7. Prudential Center Opens: October 25, 2007
After spending years playing at the Meadowlands in a run-down, difficult-to-get-to arena, the New Jersey Devils' gleaming new home, Prudential Center, opened on October 25, 2007.
6. Scott Stevens Arrives: September 1991
After the St. Louis Blues signed Brendan Shanahan away from the Devils, the Devils were entitled to compensation. St. Louis offered goalie Curtis Joseph, forward Rod Brind'Amour and two draft picks, but the Devils only wanted Stevens. The case went to arbitration, and arbitrator Edward Houston awarded Stevens to the Devils as compensation on September 4, 1991.
Although Stevens initially refused to report to New Jersey due to his desire to settle with his family in St. Louis, he became one of the all-time great Devils. Serving as captain from 1992-2004, Stevens was a key member of all three Stanley Cup champion squads and the first player in the team's history to have his number retired.
5. 'Mr. Devil' Is Drafted: June 9, 1982
4. Second Stanley Cup: June 2000
3. The First Playoff Berth: April 3, 1988
On the final day of the regular season, the Devils were tied with their arch rivals, the Rangers, for the final playoff spot in the Patrick Division. After New York defeated Quebec, 3-0, all eyes were on the Devils, who were playing the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Devils trailed 3-2 midway through the third period, but John MacLean scored to tie the game, and with two minutes left in overtime, he added the winning goal. The win sent the Devils to the playoffs for the first time.
2. The First Stanley Cup: June 1995
In June 1995, the Devils swept the Detroit Red Wings 4-0 to claim their first Stanley Cup. The team had already proven their grit and ability the season before, when they lost an epic seven-game Eastern Conference final series against the hated Rangers, and the following year, the Devils finally reached the pinnacle of hockey.
The 1995 Stanley Cup victory permanently placed the New Jersey Devils on the hockey map and exorcised the "Mickey Mouse" label forever.
1. Lou Lamoriello Comes to New Jersey
In April 1987, Dr. McMullen appointed Lamoriello president of the club. Lamoriello named himself general manager in September 1987, a bold move, considering he had never played, coached or managed in the NHL and was virtually unknown outside of college hockey. But Lamoriello had a vision, and he immediately took to making that vision a reality.
Twenty-five years later, Lamoriello has built one of the most solid, stable and successful professional sports franchises in North America.