Friday, December 18, 2009
On this date in 1993, Jim Dowd, the first native of New Jersey to ever play for the New Jersey Devils, scored his first NHL goal in a 6-2 victory over the Quebec Nordiques in Quebec City.
Dowd, from Brick, New Jersey, helped his high school capture the state title in 1986 and in his senior year broke the national scholastic scoring record with 375 points in his four years.
He was drafted 149th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Following being drafted he played college hockey at Lake Superior State of the CCHA for four seasons, including a National Championship in 1988. Dowd was named the CCHA Player of the Year in 1991 and during the 1989-90 season Dowd scored 25 goals and 67 assists for 92 points in 46 games.
Following his college career, Dowd played two seasons with the Devils top minor league club, the Utica Devils in the AHL during 1991-92 and 1992-93, getting into one game with the parent club both seasons. 1993-94 saw him play the majority of the season with the Albany River Rats, 15 games with the New Jersey Devils in which he scored his first NHL goal on this date in 1993. Dowd also was part of the Devils playoff run in 1994, seeing action in 19 games, scoring 8 points.
The 1994-95 season was one of highs and lows for Dowd. The NHL lockout shortened the regular season and Dowd then suffered a shoulder injury which limited him to only ten regular season games. Things improved for him when the playoffs arrived when he scored the game winning goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals as part of a four game sweep over the Detroit Red Wings, getting the New Jersey native his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
The next season would be one of change for Dowd, as the Devils would trade him to the Hartford Whalers, who then dealt him the same day to the Vancouver Canucks for the second half of the season. The Islanders claimed him in the NHL Waiver Draft prior to the 1996-97 season, but his time with the Islanders was minimal, as he spent the vast majority of the season with Utah of the IHL and Saint John in the AHL.
He signed as a free agent for the 1997-98 season with the Calgary Flames and split time between the NHL and the AHL. He was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers, who assigned him to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL for 1998-99 before he played the next season in Edmonton, when he had his best season to date, scoring 23 points in a career high 69 games.
Dowd's career took a turn when he was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft which gave him some much needed stability after playing for eight different teams in three separate leagues over five seasons. with Minnesota, he set career highs with 13 goals and 30 assists for 43 points in 2001-02. During his fourth season with the Wild, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.
After playing in Germany during the 2004-05 lockout for the Hamburg Freezers, he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for 2005-06, only to be moved to the Colorado Avalanche at the end of the year. He returned to the Devils for the 2006-07 season and signed with the Philadelphia Flyers for the final season of his NHL career of 2007-08.
His final NHL totals are 728 games played, 71 goals and 168 assists for 239 points. In addition, he played in 99 playoff games with 9 goals and 17 assists for 26 points and one Stanley Cup championship.
On a personal note, we met Dowd several times while he was with the Wild and always found him to be an especially friendly player, paarticularly with children. During every single warmup at the Xcel Energy Center Dowd was responsible for at least a dozen pucks finding their way into the hands of children, primarily through the hole in the plexiglass cut for photographer's lenses.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1991-92 Utica Devils Jim Dowd jersey. This jersey was worn by Dowd during his first professional season in the American Hockey League. The Utica Devils were founded in 1987 and played in Utica until 1993 before relocating to Saint John, New Brunswick, where they changed their affiliation to the Calgary Flames and were renamed the Flames.
Before the days when teams realized the power of merchandising to generate income, and came up with their own unique identities, minor league clubs would often simply take the name of their parent club, as did the Utica Devils. It is fun to see the minor league club's variations on their parent club's jerseys, in this case the "U-devil" logo worn on the chest in the classic Devils green and red colors.
Here is Dowd's game winning goal from Game 2 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals.
Next up is a chatty Jim Dowd wearing a mic during a game in 2007.