Later today, the Devils will honor the 1995 Stanley Cup team. As Hasan previewed, many former players will be back participating in an alumni game prior to hosting the Flyers. The perfect opponent considering that’s who they defeated in a hard fought Eastern Conference Final before sweeping the Red Wings to win the franchise’s first Cup.
The most famous words came from legendary Hall Of Fame broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick. It’s pretty cool to think that the former Devils play by play man still had the call with ex-Rangers color analyst John Davidson when the game aired on Fox. For all the complaints about the glow puck era and robots, they still teamed the best tandem possible giving the metropolitan area a leg up when it came to TV broadcasts.
In the video above, you’ll get to relive the final couple of minutes as Devil fans counted down until their team finally delivered a championship. Two things stand out. Former Crash Line member Mike Peluso fighting back tears on the bench as the final moments were realized. And of course, Emrick who got to make the signature call. As the buzzer sounded, Doc said:
“The championship to New Jersey. The Devils have won the Stanley Cup!”
Just recalling it watching downstairs with my family after finishing my first year of college at Fairleigh Dickinson in Madison, New Jersey I was excited for my dorm mates. I didn’t hold anything against the Devils. It was their time to win. They came so close in one of the greatest series against the Rangers a year earlier. That’s why I never bought into the whole Red Wings being overwhelming Cup favorites. It was the Devils who tasted bitter defeat in as well played a Conference Final as there ever has been. They had the experience and it showed.
From the leadership of captain Scott Stevens along with veterans Ken Daneyko, Bruce Driver, Tommy Albelin, Claude Lemieux, John MacLean, Stephane Richer and key additions Neal Broten and Shawn Chambers, it wasn’t surprising that the Devils won. Not with future legend Martin Brodeur along with Scott Niedermayer, who became fixtures on three Stanley Cup winners. And not with Bobby Holik and Randy McKay, who also were integral parts of the first two championship teams. Don’t forget Sergei Brylin also got his start and would become a bigger part of the next two Cups. There also were a couple of USA mainstays in Bill Guerin and Brian Rolston who were key parts of that championship roster. Valeri Zelepukin also was on that team.
Coached by Jacques Lemaire with assistant Larry Robinson, they were a team. Every part was used. Or as Colin Campbell once coined, ‘interchangeable.’ Maybe Davidson summed it up best when he referenced how all 25 players on the roster played a role. That was why the Devils won eventually becoming one of the most successfully run franchises under GM Lou Lamoriello.
Looking back, it’s amazing to think that was so long ago. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it’s been 13 years since I worked for ESPN. But that feels like a lifetime. Just imagine how fun it will be for players, coaches and fans tomorrow when they reunite. Last year, the Rangers celebrated 20 years. However, they really didn’t do anything special to commemorate it. Not with the current team so close to winning. Maybe down the road.
Today is about the 1995 Devils. The first of three championship teams delivered to New Jersey at the old Brendan Byrne Arena in The Meadowlands at Exit 16 W. It may as well have been Championship Plaza.