Summing Up The Season – Finally!
How do you sum up a season in which you had very little expectations? When you consider that the Devils missed the playoffs last year, had the 4th pick in the draft and found out early in the season that they would be without Travis Zajac for quite some time, there was indeed not a lot to be optimistic about for the 2011-12 season. I went into it expecting very little, and the Devils far exceeded anything that I could have ever hoped for as a season full of doubts turned into one that amazed me and left me full of pride by the time the smoke cleared!
As some of you may know, my father and I have had seasons tickets since the 2001 season and have experienced a lot with this team with ups and downs, many road trips to see the Devils play and many father/daughter moments that I live for. My father is AWESOME and if you know him, I’m sure you’ll agree that Papa CJ is the man. As I sit here and try and sum up an entire season, I can’t stop myself from tearing up. The Devils brought fun and excitement that I haven’t had during a hockey season since 2003. Each win, each lose and each roster move brought a new bonding experience for my father and me.
The day the NHL releases the new schedule for the upcoming season is akin to Christmas Day for the both of us. I immediately call him once the schedule is announced and we try and figure out what road trips we may be able to do. This past season, I had three arenas left to visit in my quest to see the Devils play in all 30 arenas by the time I turned 30. Those cities included Nashville, Phoenix and recently added Winnipeg (technically making it 31 in 31), and we made it to 2 out of the 3, hitting up both Nashville and Phoenix. These 2 trips were amongst the best I had been on since I started this journey back in 2003. And of course, the normal routine my father and I follow on road trips made it even more fun. See, we don’t just arrive in a city, watch the games and leave. We like to make them what we call “power vacations”, which means we arrive in the city, hit up as many tourist attractions as we can all in a 24-72 hour time frame, watch the game, and move on to the next city. I feel like a rock star sometimes…it can be tiring, but it is SO worth it!
Nashville presented us with an interesting opportunity this past season as my father and I wanted to do something a little different than what we normally do. Once we decided that the Music City was definitely where we were going to, we organized a “power road trip” consisting of 15 people in total, including Devil Guy and his crew and one of my fellow Devils Generals, Kim Sakevich. The trip was an absolute blast, from the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry to Jack’s BBQ and the downtown scene. When the Devils topped it off with a come from behind shootout win, we couldn’t have asked for a better road trip. It was one that I will definitely remember and one that makes me want to go back to re-visit “Smashville” again in a heartbeat…I highly suggest it if you are ever looking for a great road trip and a great time!
From Nashville, it was back home for a little bit before we took off on another trip out…this time to Phoenix, Arizona. Coincidentally, it was the same time as Ryan Carter was traded to the Devils. Well as luck would have it, as I stepped off my plane and headed to meet my parents, a limo driver was standing near the exit with a sign that said “Ryan Carter” on it. Smiling, I walked past him, and said “I know who you’re picking up, Let’s Go Devils!!”…he just smiled and I continued on, not waiting for Carter to show up…didn’t wanna look stalkerish.
From the airport, I met up with my dad and we headed straight to the Arizona State Fair and ate some very interesting things, including chocolate bacon (which was delicious in case you wondering) and fried Twinkies. Yeah, you read that right….chocolate bacon and fried Twinkies. It was a state fair, and as I mentioned, we like to do a lot of tourist attractions…how could I pass THAT up??
Anyway, back to the reason we went out to Arizona, to see the Devils take on the Coyotes. We arrived to the arena early, so we could watch warm-ups and meet up with some of our fellow Devils fans. Little did we know our ENTIRE ROW would be Devils fans. Unfortunately, our boys gave us little to cheer for that night. The highlight of the night (at least for me) came during a commercial break when I was given a great opportunity to be interviewed on TV by Devils in game reporter, Deb Placey about my Road Trip extravaganza. She asked me when it started, what my favorite trip was and when I was heading to Winnipeg (I’m still waiting for an answer – see video). So while the Devils didn’t give us much to cheer for, it was a trip I will always remember!
We spent the next day visiting the Grand Canyon and then it was back to New Jersey to continue cheering on the boys from my seat at the Rock. It was still relatively early in the season when I went on these trips, so I had a whole season ahead of me to put my heart and soul into. There were injuries, good games and bad, and even a period where I missed a few games because I was sick (and if you know me, you know I DON’T like to miss games…but I’ll touch on that in a few), but overall it was a season I would never forget.
As the regular season came to an end, it was just a matter of where the Devils would finish, but it seemed pretty clear that they were making the playoffs. Once that was determined, it was time for postseason hockey. As someone who has experienced the second season quite a bit, it’s an intense time and one in which all the superstitions come out. From the same outfits, to the same jerseys, from doing laundry to wash off loses right away…there’s a reason the back of my jersey says Crazy Jaime. And remember what I said about missing a few games during the season? Well, as I watched the opening video for the 2012 playoffs, I notice my brother ended up on the jumbotron. Here’s a kid who goes to a handful of games, and there he was, staring me in the face EVERY playoff game. The Rock is pretty much my second home, and I didn’t even get on the video with all the games I go to. I couldn’t believe it. But if anything, it did kinda make me feel like I was experiencing the playoffs with him while he was working hard…so I guess there’s something to be said for that!
This was a season that came out of nowhere, and one I, like many other Devils fans, was not expecting. But an unexpected season and playoff run ended up being one of the greatest I have ever experienced as a longtime fan, and one I will remember for years to come. Hopefully many of you cherished it the way I did. Playoff runs like this past season can be few and far between, and I don’t take them for granted, and it made me proud to be a fan of the New Jersey Devils and part of the Devils Army!
Posted on July 18, 2012, in Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, NHL and tagged Devils Army, Devils Army Generals, New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Devils Fans, NHL. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.