On this date in 1982, Dr. John McMullen got permission from the NHL Board of Governors to move the Colorado Rockies eastward to East Rutherford, New Jersey. The team moved into the newly opened Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands.
It has been a long and winding road since then.
From the early days when times were lean and wins hard to come by to Lou Lamoriello’s hiring and 1988, the breakout year that saw the team qualify for the playoffs on the last night of the season and go all the way to game seven of the Wales Conference Final against the Bruins.
From there we went to the epic seven game 1994 Eastern Conference Final loss to the Rangers to the team finally getting over the hump in 1995 and winning their first Stanley Cup against Detroit.
That set off a mini-dynasty where the team won three Cups in less than a decade and appeared in four Cup Finals.
The team consistently made the playoffs for the 1990’s and 2000’s (including a run of 13 appearances from 1997 to 2009) and made the Stanley Cup Final again in 2012 before falling to the Kings in six games that season.
Since then, times have been a bit lean again. But the future does look bright thankfully for the New Jersey faithful.
In 34 years, hundreds of players have worn the monogrammed “NJ” on their chests. From Glenn “Chico” Resch, the team’s first real marketable superstar to John MacLean, Kirk Muller, Sean Burke, Pat Verbeek, Brendan Shanahan and the other players who defined the team in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
From Ken Daneyko, who has been a constant for the Devils pretty much since the team got to New Jersey to all-time great goaltender Martin Brodeur.
From franchise icons like Hall of Famers Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer to lesser remembered building blocks like Joe Cirella and Alain Chevrier.
From big time goal scorers that clinched championships like Jason Arnott and Adam Henrique to all of the backup goalies who toiled behind Marty for so many years.
From Don Lever and Mel Bridgman to Patrik Elias to future stars like Pavel Zacha.
From Aaron Broten to Neal Broten, from Joel Quenneville to John Quenneville. From the Meadowlands to the Prudential Center.
Thank you to all of the players, coaches and staff who have made being a Devils fan fun whether you have been one since day one in 1982 or just became one last season.