Sunday, October 28, 2007

The End Brings A New Beginning

After nearly 25 years of play, the Devils move into a new place to dwell. Aptly named The Rock which symbolizes how the Devils have played during this long run of excellence...the new arena will opened last night amid a lot of fanfare and a little controversy. As always, have to have a little spice to go with the sugar. Now we'll throw the spice off a little to the side for now. Last night meant a ton to someone like me...someone who remembers the history of the franchise well.

There were the downtrodden times when the Devils couldn't buy a win....all those games when they were on a little tiny station (WWOR- Channel 9) out of Secaucus, New Jersey. However, even then, they were still our team...we stuck by them win or lose. I remember my father taking me to games and I was amazed at how fast it all was and yet I felt I could almost compartmentalize it. I understood the game and as my love for the game grew (it didn't hurt that I played hockey on some level for the better part of 20 years +), I learned to appreciate the finer subtleties and just to be thankful to be a fan. The Lloyd Lyndsay-Young hellos to all the Devil fans out there....when Gary Thorne took over the play by play from Peter McNab and called the Johnny Mac gamewinner that put us in the playoffs for the first time. When we moved to Sportschannel...we were usually relegated to the upstart NewSport or eventually FSNY2 for awhile but that wouldn't last all that long.

Then there was Lou Lamoriello who turned this franchise around...when he came aboard almost 20 years ago....the Devils were kind of a doormat if you will. Three Cups later, he is still widely considered one of the best GM's in sports. The marketing may be a bit of a sore spot but talk to any Devils fans and they will tell you how much they appreciate Lou....especially this one. Lou orchestrated the compensation when the Blues tampered to get Shanny and everyone knows who we got as that compensation...#4 Scott Stevens. The draft brought us Niedermayer and Brodeur and the rest is well forever ingrained in Devils lore. Madden, Pandolfo, Elias and a cast of characters came later. But without Lou and scouting director, David Conte, who knows if the Devils would still be in New Jersey. After years of playing hard ball with the state of New Jersey which for anyone who knows, can be a worse of a pain than divorce, child birth, or death....the Devils would finally get their new arena in Newark.

The arena has not been without its share of hiccups...there was the oringinal attempt after the near move in 95...and then after the 2nd cup in 2000...I got to the point where I started to wonder if there was ever going to be a new arena. Finally, ground was broken during the lockout and when they said The Rock would be open for the 2007-08 season...a smile came to my face almost as wide as when they won the first Stanley Cup over Detroit. Then when the schedule came out for this season...I saw the date October 27th and penned it in...I knew some way somehow (even 2900 miles away), I would see this game. So yes I am using the Tivo for it but it shall never be erased. Bon Jovi played to a packed out Rock the other night and the people that I have talked to that went said the music was great but the arena stole the show. Now it is the Devils turn to get the party and black style.

My brother got tickets for the game during the week and bought an extra one for the one person that got us all started on this crazy fandom as my mother still calls it. Hockey was the one sport we all agreed upon as a family and it was my dad who guided us that way. So yes, my niece sat in that seat but in a way my father was it a hunch. This is our day.....our Christmas!

A Devils Christmas That Is!

~ stevens8204