It says something of the nondescript nature of this Devils team that were still left to talk about the ones from the distant past in order to stir any kind of emotion. But that’s where we are. There’s nothing about this Devils team worth getting in a furor, or even a tizzy, over.
Normally, a team that defines an era is a celebration of it, no matter the sport. The Hawks moved along the line of the Red Wings in dominating the game through skill. The Penguins as well, with even greater star power. The Patriots through ruthless planning and quarterback excellence. The Cowboys of the 90s the greater speed needed. The Bulls on having the greatest player to play and killer defense at the right moment. You see where we’re going here.
The Devils were an example of the disintegrating of the sport. Their excellence came when the sport was impossible to watch, when the tactics employed were meant to destroy anything good about hockey. And they did it better than anyone–the clutching, grabbing, trapping, the boredom–which only made it harder to watch. As more and more eyes turned away from hockey, the Devils flourished and only expedited that process, and then more teams tried to copy them. They were sports’ Invisible Boy, only flourishing when no one was watching.
Of course, that only brought glory to fucking northern New Jersey, which is somehow perfect. A place no one wants to be with a team that no one wants to watch that no one could get rid of. It’s not even a place. It’s an area. It’s somewhere you might know on a map. Maybe. You think of landmarks anywhere else. Think of New Jersey, you basically think of sludge and pollution and highways to literally anywhere else. Maybe the airport. The Devils reflected that in hockey form.
It looks like hockey and the NHL has finally recovered from that era, with scoring up and more creative and fun players than perhaps they’ve ever had. It took this long. You can thank the Devils for that.
Game #48 Preview Suite