Tuesday, June 30, 2009
It was on this date in 1982 that the New Jersey franchise was officially named "Devils" in fan balloting. The unimaginative "Blades", retro "Americans" and the incredibly horrid "Meadowlanders" were runners-up in the contest.
The Jersey Devil - an ominous crytptozoological (and just how many blogs will be using that word today?) creature with a horse-like head, hooves, bat-like wings, a forked tail and oversized claws - was said to terrorize locals in the New Jersey town of Pine Barrens in the 18th century. Legend varies to wether the child, the 13th one born into the Leeds family in 1735, was considered cursed and turned into the Jersey Devil or was born that way after the mother predicted after her 12th child that if she had another, it would be the Devil.
Still, on occasion there are complaints about the name Devils from those who think it refers to the Satanic Devil, rather than the mythical Jersey Devil.
The club was originally founded as the Kansas City Scouts in 1974. A little known fact is that the Scouts were originally going to be called "Mohawks", but the Chicago Blackhawks objected to the name. The Scouts then moved to Denver, Colorado and became the Rockies in 1976 and then relocated to New Jersey in 1982, this time adopting brand new colors and yet another new name. The team made the playoffs once in it's first 13 seasons,
The low point came in 1983-84 season when, at 2-17-0, the travelled to face the powerhouse Edmonton Oliers and were blown out by a score of 13-4. Wayne Gretzky, upset that former teammate Ron Low played for such an inferior team was quoted as saying "Well, it's time they got their act together, folks. They're ruining the whole league. They had better stop running a Mickey Mouse organization and put somebody on ice." The Devils fans reacted and when the Oilers visited two months later, the building was full of signs and fans wearing mouse ears.
Four seasons later the Devils made the playoffs, beginning a run of qualifying for the postseason in 19 of the last 21 years, including each of the last 12 in a row, having won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1991-92 New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur jersey as worn when Brodeur made his NHL debut, wearing the unfamiliar #29, after an emergency call up, not from the minors but from Canadian Junior Hockey(!), when both Chris Terreri and Craig Billington were injured. He appeared in four regular season games, winning in his debut 4-2 vs. Boston, and one playoff game.
This jersey is in the original Devils colors of red and green, naturally earning the comparison to Christmas, which were worn through the 1991-92 season, thus making these five games the only time Brodeur would sport this style Devils jersey, as he would spend the next season in the minors playing for the Utica Devils and by the time he returned to New Jersey for the 1993-94 season, the Devils had introduced their now customary red and black jersey set.
This jersey has a pair of patches to point out, the first being the obvious NHL 75th Anniversary logo on the upper right chest and then a small, conservative Devils 10th Anniversary patch tucked away on the back side down by the CCM logo on the hem, certainly one of the more subtle patch placements in NHL history. This is another of my custom made patches we printed ourselves, as they had not yet been reproduced at the time we had this jersey customized.
Today's video section begins with a look at The Jersey Devil followed by the 1996-97 home opener which features highlights from earlier seasons, including today's featured jersey worn by Martin Brodeur during his first NHL action.