To start off, I am a die-hard New York Ranger fan, and due to the heated rivalry with the Devils, I rarely talk about them.
The reason I don't isn't because I have nothing to say—it's that there is nothing bad to say about the New Jersey Devils.
For the past 15 years, the New Jersey Devils have not only been a thorn to Ranger teams and fans, but a thorn to the entire NHL league.
The former Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey in 1982, and were frequently referred to as the Mickey Mouse Organization thanks to the great Wayne Gretzky.
From 1982 to about 1993 the New Jersey Devils were a joke of an organization, and were at or near the bottom of the league. This all changed wheb Lou Lamoriello made a bold move and brought in Jacques Lemaire.
Since that move, the Devils have qualified to make the playoffs in all but one year, 1995. They also have won three Stanley Cups, while the Rangers have only won one since 1993. So who is the man or men to thank for this?
First, you have to start with Lou Lamoriello. He has put quality talent on the ice for 15 years, and has had very good draft picks—including Zach Parise, who is only second in goals this year and was passed by the New York Rangers and Islanders.
Unlike most Metro Sport teams, Lamoriello will not give out big contracts. He believes in fair, reasonable salaries. Take a pay cut and win with his team, or go get your money and fall flat on your face.
If you don't believe me, just ask Bobby Holik, John Maclean, and Scott Gomez—and that's only the ones the Rangers tried to steal and use for their own dynasty that never worked.
Lamoriello is defiantly one of the sources of the success in Jersey, but is he the main guy?
Next, you have to give it up for coach Jacques Lemaire. Not only did he change the Devils history, he changed NHL history. Due to his style of play, the trap, the NHL had to make rule changes to negate the trap, because it was too effective and made hockey boring.
The Devils and their fans didn't care. they won three Stanley Cups with that style. The coach defiantly changed the Devils and hockey forever, but is he the one to thank?
Of course you can't play the trap unless you have the right guys. Fortunately for the Devils, they had stellar and Hall of Fame-type defensemen. First, one of the best in the history of the game, Scott Stevens. He was the leader of the team, the forever Captain of the Devils, and he could hit like a truck. Paul Kariya and Eric Lindros still have nightmares of trying to skate with their head down when Stevens was on the ice.
Then you had Kenny Daneyko, the heart of the New Jersey Devils. He played with a mean streak and would fight anyone that dared to fight him. He was never an offensive threat, but you were not getting by Daneyko without being pummeled first.
They also had Scotty Neidermeyer and Brian Rafalski, the two offensive-minded defensemen that just knew how to carry the puck. They all balanced each other it out, and made it much easier for Lamoriello and Martin Brodeur—who may be the biggest reason for the Devils' fortune.
Martin Brodeur is one of the best ever, period. He is right up there with Sawchuck, Plante and Dryden. In my personal opinion, he is downright better then Roy and Hasek.
He just has that presence about him. You have to think where to shoot on Brodeur, because he is so good glove side, but then so dominant blocker side.
He isn't a butterfly goalie, but he doesn't stand straight up. He got the most wins ever as a goalie and still has at least three dominant 30-win seasons left in him.
When a team has this many factors to why they are great, it's easy to figure it out. The New Jersey Devils are a dynasty. Yes, they only have three Stanley cups, and probably a fourth this year, but they are still getting better.
Even after 15 years and rule changes, the Devils still are on top—thanks to Lamoriello, Lemaire, Stevens, Daneyko and Brodeur.
The Devils are right up there with those Red Wings, and maybe,probably, just a little bit better. I hope the Rangers can see what good ownership and coaching can do, and not just spend money.