Eighteen years ago to this date two hockey teams sat in locker rooms with butterflies in their stomachs looking forward to the best of three series ahead.
One team had already established themselves as one of the leagues best franchises, with three Stanley cups to their name, and overshadowed what some called their “little brother.”
This “little brother” of a team was the New Jersey Devils, a relatively new organization that had only played in the National Hockey League for 15 years, compared to their cross Hudson River rivals who were one of the original six teams in the NHL.
The New York Rangers prevailed in this three-game series and kept their “little brother” in place, but a lot has changed since then. The Devils hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup only a year later in 1995, and then added two more championships in 2000 and 2003.
The two teams are going head-to-head again in the Eastern Conference Finals, once again knotted at two games apiece.
Martin Brodeur, the only player remaining on either team from 1994, has been stellar, and to counter him, the Rangers have Vezina Finalist Henrik Lundqvist, who has stood on his head in the first four games.
He is known as “King Henrik,” but being the “King” is not the top of the goaltending hierarchy, Brodeur arguably holds the highest ranking there is for a goaltender.
But Brodeur’s reign is coming to an end, possibly at the end of this season. The 40-year-old net minder still has excellence left in him, and he has a chance to possibly hoist the cup one more time.
This Devils-Rangers series has been as entertaining as everyone expected it to be.
We have seen Brendan Shanahan hand out a suspension.
We have seen Mike Rupp, who once was a Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, stir up controversy by taking a shot at Brodeur. We have seen Peter DeBoer and John Tortorella exchange words through the press, and on the bench.
It will only get more exciting from here.
Just to make it more dramatic, Games 3 through 7 will be on the same dates as they were in 1994.
Some people say history tends to repeat itself, but which historical event will repeat? The dominance of arguably the best goalie to ever play, or the dramatic finish of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals as guaranteed by Mark Messier himself?
One thing is for certain though, and the recent years of NHL Playoff marketing says it all: “History will be made.”