When I went to my first New Jersey Devils game ever—which was also my first hockey game ever—in March 1994, I had no idea how everything was about to change. Who knew that this one game would turn me into a hockey addict and rabid Devils fan, torturing, um, I mean, delighting everyone with my new knowledge and begging people to go to games with me? (I am still torturing and begging my loved ones to this day.)
I also had no idea that the team I had hitched my wagon to would win the Stanley Cup the very next year. Each player worked hard, did his job, and did what no one thought they could—bring the Stanley Cup to New Jersey. After that, players would come and go, and the Devils would win two more Stanley Cups. But that 1995 team? That was MY team. They were MY guys.
So when the Devils announced that they would be honoring the 1995 Stanley Cup championship team, I circled the date on the calendar. And this past weekend, I got to celebrate my guys.
I’ll never forget those bone-shattering hits from team captain Scott Stevens and his threat that “you’re next.” Or the performance of that young goaltender Martin Brodeur. We knew he was good, but could we ever have imagined where his career would go? Or the dedication of Ken Daneyko, who had been with the Devils for his entire career, through thick and thin. How about the speed of offensive defensemen Scott Niedermayer? And the MVP performance of Claude Lemieux.
There was the “Crash Line”—Randy McKay, Mike Peluso, and Bobby Holik—who brought both grit and timely goals. The impressive offense from Stephane Richer and John MacLean. The contributions from younger players like Bill Guerin and Brian Rolston. And the sweet victory for Jersey native Jim Dowd.
And the Cup-winning goal scored by Neal Broten. While he wasn’t around for long, Broten was one of my favorites. Not only was he the first American to score a Cup-winning goal, but he was also a member of the 1980 U.S. hockey team that pulled off the Miracle on Ice. You may have heard of it.
My thanks to the New Jersey Devils for bringing back so many memories of 1995. And for reminding of the time that I fell in love with hockey.