Monthly Archives: May 2011
After 11 seasons in the NHL, 37 year-old former New Jersey Devil Brian Rafalski announced that he will be retiring. With a couple of injuries and wanting to focus on his family, he decided it would be the best decision.
In 1999, Rafalski was named the best hockey player not playing in the NHL by the Sporting News. Later that year, the Devils signed him as a free agent. He was a pretty old rookie starting the 1999-2000 season at 26 years old, but he had four years of European hockey experience to back him up. He was paired up with Scott Stevens and played with other rookies, Scott Gomez, John Madden and Colin White. White remembers seeing Rafalski for the first time and thinking he had nothing to worry about when it came to the new small D-man standing at 5″10 and 195 lbs – until he saw him play. Rafalski led all rookie defensemen with a +21 rating, ended the season with 32 points and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. Oh, and he helped in winning a Stanley Cup, too.
Rafalski went on to win another Cup with the Devils in 2003 before being signed by the Detroit Red Wings in 2007 to a five year contract. In 2008, he was a part of another Stanley Cup winning team. The next year would mark his fifth trip to the Finals in nine seasons – pretty impressive.
Injuries got in his way this season. Rafalski was on the training table every day and said that it got pretty tiring and affected the way he played. This didn’t stop him from picking up 48 points in 63 regular-season games though.
In his career, he’s also picked up two Olympic silver medals playing on Team USA (2002, 2010) and has been selected for three NHL All-Star Games. With an overall of 79 goal and 436 assists, giving him 515 points in 833 career games, Rafalski is definitely going out on top with a Hall of Fame worthy career.
Before Anssi Salmela made it to the NHL, his career started in 2003 playing in Finland. He jumped from team to team and picked up a couple of medals along the way. Anssi received a Bronze World Junior Championship medal in 2004 and a Bronze in the World Championship in 2008. We’re proud to say that Anssi played on Team Finland in this year’s IIHF World Championship and took home Gold!
The Devils signed Anssi in 2008 to a one year contract but didn’t spend too much time with us. He was traded to the Thrashers in 2009 and got him back in February of 2010 in the Kovy trade. He was re-acquired on February 5th, on February 8th he scored against the Flyers.
His first goal of the 2010-2011 season happened to be the game winning goal in overtime to get the Devils a 3-2 win over the Islanders in March. While he isn’t a top scorer, I’d say he’s pretty clutch in going against our rivals and that’s enough for me.
He’s just getting started as a Devil and I see a great career ahead. I’m an Anssi fan, are you?
|2010-2011 Season Stats|
What do you think about Salmela and his career as a Devil? Let us know by leaving a comment!
The Bruins were leading the poll when we asked for your Round 2 picks. But they were up against Philly, so I would hope that every Devils fan would be rooting for Boston! Since Philly was knocked out, let’s see if Boston is still in the lead. Let us know who you want to clear Round 3. Don’t forget, you can pick up to two teams.
The Devils are still without a coach, so I will continue to spew my inane babble on who the new coach will possibly be. Last time around I wrote about
Ken Hitchcock as the new coach. Today we will look at the case for another name widely thrown around…Kirk Muller.
Devils fans since the 80’s (present company included) will remember Muller as a cornerstone of the team at the time. He was the first true superstar the team had in its time in NJ. He was even captain for 4 years, leading the team to their first playoff berth in 1988 with a 94 point season as “Captain Kirk”. After the 1991 season he was traded to Montreal for Stephane Richer and Tom Chorske. That trade was my first experience that star players can get traded too. That day stunk. But the two players the Devils got in return became key cogs in the rise of the franchise in the early 90s with Richer being a goal-scoring machine. Muller didn’t do so bad himself either winning a Cup with the Habs in 1993. Read the rest of this entry