Grier, Salvador Coaching in Prestigious Tournament

Devils Assistant Coach Mike Grier and Devils/MSG+ TV analyst Bryce Salvador will be taking a team made up of minority players to a prestigious tournament according to William Douglas on NHL.com.

Grier and Salvador, both former NHL players – with Salvador serving as Devils captain (the third black player to serve as an NHL captain in league history) from 2013 until his retirement – will be coaching “the NextGen AAA Foundation’s team at the invitation-only Beantown Summer Classic in Exeter, New Hampshire from Aug. 8-11” according to Douglas in his “Color of Hockey” article on August 4.

The team, which is a part of the NextGen Foundation, a nonprofit “that provides mentoring, education and hockey programs to underprivileged youth and underserved communities. It was founded in 2017 by philanthropist Dee Dee Ricks, who has provided more than $1 million to help Black and brown student-athletes at some of the nation’s leading preparatory schools, colleges and travel hockey programs throughout North America.”

The team was “recruited by Rod Braceful, the assistant director of player personnel for USA Hockey’s National Development Team” according to Douglas.

The team will feature some great talent, as forward Reggie Millette will be attending American International College in 2021-22, defenseman Christian Jimenez will suit up for Harvard in the same season and forward Ross Mitton will play at Colgate this upcoming season.

Grier said: “I’m extremely happy and grateful to work with this group of talented players. The game of hockey continues to increase the number of diverse players with the talent and skill to compete in college, in the minors, and the NHL, and supporting organizations like NextGen, who develop those pathways, is vital.”

The NextGen AAA Foundation team competing in the Beantown Summer Classic comes on the heels of Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild making a great appeal to the entire sport of hockey in an effort to end racism in the opening to the Stanley Cup Qualifying round in Edmonton on Saturday. Dumba’s speech has been widely applauded and his message of inclusion in the sport is something that has to be listened to if we are to move forward. It was a great message and shows that the face of hockey is not one color or gender, but rather a mix of many different faces.

NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs, Kim Davis told Douglas: “NextGen is carving out a pipeline of diverse, elite-level hockey talent. We believe that in the near future, more teams across the continent will feature more players of color, and this NextGen team is a strong signal that we are moving closer to that day.”

The Beantown Summer Classic takes place in Exeter, New Hampshire from August 8 to 11, 2020 and will be sponsored by the NHL and Pure Hockey.

In other (power outage-backed up) news, the Devils have initiated a program to benefit Newark Working Kitchens.

The team, in partnership with Prudential Center and sponsors Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health, have announced Donate a Plate. This is “a virtual fundraiser benefitting Newark Working Kitchens.” This will enlist “local restaurants to deliver nutritious meals to vulnerable populations across Newark, including low-income seniors and families, the homeless, and others.”

Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health are kicking things off by donating 500 meals each to the initiative. The Devils and “their Premium Seating Partners” have matched that with 1,000 meals. All totaled, that comes to 2,000 meals for those in need.

The press release put out by the Devils says that “fans have a chance to participate in the giving by creating their own donation pages to share with family and friends. At the conclusion of the month-long fundraiser, the top three donors will receive a future Devils Premium Seating Experience at Prudential Center.”

Jillian Frechette, Senior Vice President, Marketing, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center said: “We are grateful to Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health for joining us in our mission to support Newark residents and the local restaurants which continue to provide meals during this time. On and off the ice, Newark is our home and our commitment to the community continues to be of the utmost importance. The goal of this virtual fundraiser is to motivate others to support those who are in need because together, with our community, we are one.”

Investors Bank Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Product Officer, Dorian Hansen said “We are thrilled to kick off the Donate a Plate virtual fundraiser alongside the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. Newark Working Kitchens is making an impact in a city that has been disproportionately hit by COVID-19 and we are proud to support them in their mission. This initiative is a meaningful way that fans can support those who are in need during this time.”

Barry H. Ostrowsky, the President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health said “Our partnership with the New Jersey Devils is predicated on promoting the importance of healthy and active living, and proper nutrition is such a critical component. During this pandemic, the more vulnerable communities need our support more than ever, and I’m thrilled that through this program we have an opportunity to provide nutritious meals to those in need.”

The Devils had previously donated $200,000 to Newark Working Kitchens through their Devils Care Foundation.

If you would like to participate, the website to visit is: NewJerseyDevils.com/donateaplate.

Devils to Air 2003 Team Reunion on Digital Platforms

In his latest post on the “Inside the Devils Blog,” Chris Westcott today announced that njd.TV will be airing a special hour-long show featuring the reunion of the 2003 Stanley Cup-winning team. The show will air August 12 at 8 PM ET on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch as well as the Devils’ official website.

The show will be produced by njd.TV and is presented by Plymouth Rock Assurance according to Westcott. The show will see the 2003 champs “gathering together for a special Zoom reunion.”

Westcott said the reunion will have “more than 12 members” of the team present, “including Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, and Mike Rupp. The event is hosted by Devils radio play-by-play team, Matt Loughlin and Chico Resch.”

According to Westcott, “the group will discuss that particular season” of 2002-03 “and the steps they took to becoming champions. All of the players have great memories of that season, including many overtime victories throughout the playoffs, tales about the late and great Pat Burns, and many funny stories from the road. Follow along in this historic reunion of the New Jersey Devils’ all-time greatest teams.”

This is a cool idea to remind people that the Devils exist during the return to sports. Major League Baseball is starting up, the NBA and NHL are finishing the regular seasons and will be going into the playoffs – the NHL without the Devils – and other sports will be continuing or starting up as well. This is a busy time and any way to engage the fanbase is great.

The only problem I have is that the Devils need to start creating new “greatest teams” and moments soon. Nostalgia for the past is great, but you do not want to live in the past. Living on old glories is not a way to make new fans and this team needs to get in gear soon.

I realize we have hit a rough patch, but sooner or later, you have to push towards the future and stop cashing in on nostalgia. The fans will eventually catch on and stop tuning in as you sort of “oversaturate the market.”

But I don’t want to blast this too much. I will be watching and re-living some old times – better times – and hoping we can have them again sooner rather than later.