As I’m sure you’ve all heard, the New Jersey Devils will be hosting the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30. What does this mean for the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey area? What is different about this year’s draft? Who’s projected to be drafted first, and who will the Devils draft? Let’s take a look, shall we?
If you’ve ever been to The Prudential Center for a Devils home game, I bet you didn’t just read that sentence. You heard that loud and clear in your head, in the voice of the one and only Kevin Clark! He has been our PA Announcer since 2007, and the job couldn’t have gone to a more enthusiastic and dedicated man.
Like many people, Kevin played sports when he was growing up. When it became evident he was not going to become a professional athlete, he wanted to find other ways to stay involved in sports. So, he did some announcing for his local football team, and began a career as a sports artist. In 1999, while doing artwork for the (now defunct) New Jersey Cardinals, he noticed an opening for PA Announcer on their website. He applied for the job and the team gave him a shot! For two seasons, Kevin took the two hour drive to and from his home to their games. His professional career was off to a great start.
It’s only May, but I already miss being at The Prudential Center with my friends, watching my favorite team take the ice. Silly as it sounds, thinking of hockey got me thinking of my game day rituals, which got me thinking about my favorite food and treats inside the Prudential Center. It also reminded me of some of the great places that surround The Rock that my friends and I would meet prior to or after games and hang out.
On game days, it’s hard for me to resist the BBQ pulled pork sandwich, which comes with fresh, home made chips, cole slaw and a pickle. It’s my absolute favorite thing to treat myself to at Prudential Center. As for places to hang out, I’ve occasionally met friends at the Edison Ale House, located just behind Championship Plaza. The last time I was there, I enjoyed a plate of their Chili Cheese Fries, which I definitely recommend sharing with a friend! The portion was gigantic (and delicious).
To spice things up and show the great variety surrounding our home arena, I asked my fellow Generals to share their favorite treats and meeting places, too. I’ve learned about a few new places from them that I think I have to go visit. This is what they had to say:
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My favorite moment in New Jersey Devils history was the culmination of an incredible 1999-2000 season in the winning of the Stanley Cup. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness some incredible players spend most of their careers in New Jersey, one of which has been Patrik Elias. Even as a 37-year-old, Elias played at a pace this year that would have earned him 61 points had it been a full season. No point of his has been as meaningful to me as the last pass he made in the 1999-2000 season: a blind pass towards the net right onto the stick of his line-mate, Jason Arnott, ending Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals and bringing the cup to New Jersey for the second time in franchise history. I had yet to begin my appreciation for hockey in 1995, so this play was the most exciting thing I had witnessed in sports in my entire life.
The 1999 team was arguably the most well rounded team in Devils history. The Devils had an incredible offense, featuring the “A-line” of Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias, and Petr Sykora. This was filled out by the likes of Bobby Holik, Randy Mckay, Claude Lemieux, Alexander Mogilny (acquired via trade), and Calder Trophy winner Scott Gomez. Their defense featured the most famous names in Devils history including captain Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski, and Ken Daneyko. Last, but certainly not least, the Devils had Martin Brodeur at the top of his game. The most astounding part of this team and the final play of the Stanley Cup Finals was the chemistry. The infamous “A-line” accounted for three of the top four offensive players that season, and their final act proved just how well they knew each other; it was as if they always knew where the others were on the ice without having to look.
I will always remember my heart skipping a beat as I watched the puck float across the ice from Elias to Arnott, hoping that it would finally end the double overtime marathon and that I could see Scott Stevens hoist the cup high over his head. Even now, I am reminded by the “History Will Be Made” Stanley Cup Playoffs ads. “What if Patrik wasn’t precise?”…well, he was.
Your New Jersey Devils (19-18-10) will take the ice for the final time this season on Saturday afternoon, as they take on their cross-town rivals, the New York Rangers (25-18-4) for the fourth time this season. The Devils are 1-2-0 against the Rangers this season, taking the first meeting by a score of 3-1, then losing the next two 3-2 and 4-1. The Rangers will look to move as high as 6th in the Eastern Conference standings, depending on the results of the last two games for the Ottawa Senators.
One of the things I have always loved is hearing players say in their post game interviews how much they appreciate the support of their fans. Whenever one of the guys comes out and says they hear us cheering, it makes me feel like all the time spent at the arena, all the days I lost my voice, or clapped until my arms were sore was worth it.
So, even though Thursday, April 25th against the Penguins is “Fan Appreciation Night”, I thought it would be fun for us fans to make it a “Player Appreciation Night.” I know our fans are dedicated. I know that we will stand by these guys win or lose. For one night, I thought it would be amazing to show everyone on the ice, everyone watching on TV, everyone everywhere that we mean it.
A few weeks back I made a simple sign.
A fellow fan and friend of mine really enjoyed it, and made the same exact sign to take with her to a road game. Which got me thinking how fun it would be to see that simple statement repeated throughout the entire stadium. What kind of impression would THAT give our players?
So, I invite everyone who wants to participate to copy this design and bring it to the game on Thursday, April 25. Let’s show, not just our team, but ALL of the NHL why the New Jersey Devils have the BEST fans in all of hockey!
Game Time: 7:30 PM
TV: TSN, NBCSN, MSG+
Radio: 1130 AM
Thursday night, your New Jersey Devils (15-17-10) will look to finally snap a 10-game losing streak as they travel to Philly to take on the Flyers (19-21-3) for the fifth and final time this season. The Devils have gone 0-6-4 in their past ten, virtually knocking them out of the 2013 playoff race. The Flyers, on the other hand, have gone 6-4-0 in their past 10, moving one point ahead of the Devils in the standings as they try to piece together a season that got off to a rocky start for the Philadelphia team.
Game Time: 7:30 PM
Radio: 970 AM
The New Jersey Devils (15-14-10) will play host to the Boston Bruins (25-9-4) tonight for third and final meeting of the season. This is the second game between these teams in the last week. Last Thursday, the Devils shipped up to Boston in a game that saw the Devils throw everything but the kitchen sink at Tuukka Rask, but he stopped all 40 shots. Jaromir Jagr would score in his debut as a Bruin, and the Devils would fall 1-0. These are two teams headed in different directions, as Boston is fighting to win the Northeast Division, and New Jersey is fighting to keep its playoffs hopes alive.