Yesterday, the dreams of every New Jersey Devils’ fan with a Twitter account came true when it was announced that they acquired Russian winger Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights. After the NHL announced the news to the league as a whole, via their Twitter account, fans of all 31 teams were able to add their input. Some Devils’ fans took their excitement over to their Twitter accounts. Others laughed at the Golden Knights for the mediocre trade return (hey, cap crunches will do that to you). But the most surprising reaction came from a few New York Rangers’ fans. They were congratulating the Devils.
Congratulating the Devils? I had to do a double-take and make sure that they were “New York” Rangers fans and not “Texas” Rangers fans. But alas, they were Blue Shirt New York hockey fans.
Not insulting the Devils.
Not making fun of the Devils.
Not sprinkling in a much-repeated and unoriginal “Brodeur’s fat” joke.
But genuine congratulations and excitement.
Look, we maybe just a tad bit biased toward the Devils here at Devils Army Blog, but there’s no denying that the Rangers have had a pretty good offseason in their own right. They made major additions in the form of top free-agent prize Artemi Panarin and a trade for defenseman Jacob Trouba that seems like a steal in their favor. And we can’t forget about their second overall pick, who you may or not have heard of, a Finnish player named Kaapo Kakko.
Kakko, of course, was taken second overall by the Rangers after Jack Hughes went to the Devils. For the rest of their careers, the two names will be intertwined, even more so than Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. And as fate would have it, those two players would go to the two teams with one of the NHL’s biggest rivalries. The Hudson River is seemingly the only thing separating the first and second overall pick.
For the first time in a long time, the Devils and Rangers are poised to be good and competitive teams that can go head-to-head with each other. During the Devils’ cup years, the rivalry was heavily tilted in New Jersey’s favor. In 2012, they seemed evenly matched, but the years after that saw the Rangers overtake the lowly Devils. Aside from the Devils’ lone playoff appearance in 2018, the past few years have been fairly forgettable for both franchises.
The 2019-20 season aims to be different. Gone were the Rangers vs Devils games of last season where fans of both teams chanted out “we both suck”. Gone are the days where the New York Islanders end up being the only tri-state team playing meaningful hockey in April. These are going to be the days of a new chapter of the rivalry. The rivalry has been renewed.
So yes, Rangers’ fans probably are a little happy to see the Devils improve our team. Now every game means just a little bit more. Playing for bragging rights is great, but now the challenge is there like it hasn’t been in years. Every victory becomes even more worthwhile. Just don’t expect Rangers’ fans to be rooting for the Devils when they set foot in Prudential Center this season.