(AP / Getty Images)
The toughest thing about remembering your past is making sure it is honest to not one oneself but the readers as well. Above is Mount Rushmore with its four heads of state. So what if the New Jersey Devils had their own Mount Puckmore as Greg Wyshynski has coined it? In doing a little bit of research, we quickly realized what odds we were up against.
For Exhibit A, John Fischer from In Lou We Trust threw the hammer down with his piece. Let us be clear about one thing here. The New Jersey Devils 28 year history has had more ups and downs than a John Grisham book. The team has been called a “Mickey Mouse Club”, has nearly moved, been in the constant shadow of their crosstown rivals, and has finally seen an arena move in the last few years to a place where the lights go out. Okay it happened only once.
Needless to say, the team has had an eventful time in its first generation of existence. Few teams have had that much history crammed into such a little space of time. Based on John’s list being so comprehensive, I had to just take a stab at my four first. Surely this will create some debate but that is the whole point.
Our Devils Mount Puckmore
(First up….#4 – Getty Images)
Scott Stevens – Simply he was THE MAN in New Jersey. Some will argue no Martin Brodeur, no three cups but Stevens clearly made this team his own. He often sacrificed offense for a punishing defense that few will ever see the likes of again. Stevens was the Captain of three Stanley Cup titles (1995,2000,and 2003) and many thought on his way to a fourth in 2004 before a concussion ultimately ended his career at least a bit too soon to all. For anyone who watched him play his entire career in New Jersey, they owe a huge piece of their fandom to this guy. He was “The Professor” off the ice but “The Hitman” on it. Stevens truly represented guts, leadership, and a sense for the dramatic that few defensemen ever had. Ask Slava Kozlov, Rod Brind’amour, or Eric Lindros what area code they are in sometime. Stevens could even score too and many forgot about that with his penchant for physical play. There will NEVER be a defenseman on this franchise like him ever.
(Next up….Martin Brodeur #30 – Getty Images)
Martin Brodeur – He is arguably the greatest goalie of all time and in the discussion at the very least. Brodeur has won over 600 games. No one may ever do that again. The three time Stanley Cup winner also has two Olympic Gold Medals (1 he started in). At the age of 38, Martin Brodeur has nothing left to prove other than to cement his legacy with an exclamation point. He has won 40 games or more eight times and 35 or more twelve times. There are few goalies that can endure a divorce proceeding and win a Stanley Cup. There are few goalies that will ever come along like him and we will even mention his ability to make funny faces on here during games he did not play. They say all goalies have a quirky sense of humor. It was Brodeur’s sense of humor on and off the ice that made him stand a man apart.
GM and Team President Lou Lamoriello – Image from AP)
Lou Lamoriello — The man from Providence College truly has made his mark on the NHL. That “Hey Man, Catch Fire” song will be put aside here. He has been General Manager for the last 23+ years. So basically he has been the GM of the team for all but five years. In that time, the Devils went from that “Mickey Mouse Club” to an elite team in the National Hockey League. Lamoriello has won Stanley Cups and numerous accolades. He was even inducted into the HHOF in 2009 and many say was an instrumental part in ending the year long lockout that nearly crippled the NHL. Lou Lamoriello is more than that, he is the administrative face of the New Jersey Devils. Even with some of the playoff failures of late and that Kovalchuk “rejection”, Lamoriello is the most recognizable face in this franchise’s history. How many GM’s can say that?
(John McMullen (Owner of the NJ Devils — Image from KTR.com)
John McMullen – He gave New Jersey Devil fans a hockey team. That in itself should make any fan grateful. Yes there may have been times where McMullen was less than graceful as an owner but the respect level will always be there. His smartest move was bringing in Lou Lamoriello no question but McMullen was actually quite approachable. He wanted to win as a man who was an engineer. McMullen put the pieces in place to lay a foundation for what has become the Devils today. Fans should at least tip a glass to the man as he is the fourth face on this Mount Puckmore for good reason.
There is always a more comical aspect to these lists. I will take this one and thanks again John.
The Anti-Mount Puckmore
Brent Sutter – For the way he left and not necessarily his job performance before March anyway. The coaches’ record from Match 1st on was well below average. He also tried funny faces once but it did not work as well as Brodeur’s. Add in how stupendous he is doing in Calgary and maybe this was one move Lou did not need to make.
Richard Matvichuk – Yes he was a very serviceable defenseman in Dallas but not in New Jersey. He always seemed to either be playing hurt or almost better off hurt. That may be cold but it was the stone cold truth.
Phil Housely – Again another guy here very long but failed miserably as a rental for New Jersey. He was never really missed.
Sean Burke – Yes he had success but his off the ice exploits with his then wife put him on this dubious list. He also lost his job to Chris Terrerri, a nice guy, but not someone one should lose their job to.
There are enough lists out there for Devils. If you want to make your own, just put it in the comments section or reach out to us on the Examiner or twitter, facebook, even at email@example.com. Have a great weekend!