The long winding road of the Devils, NJ’s only major sports team
It was on May 27th, 1982 that the New Jersey Devils NHL team was born. While the team wouldn’t get its new name for another month, that was the day the sale of the then Colorado Rockies to John McMullen was approved.
The franchise had originally been the Kansas City Scouts, but lasted only a couple of seasons before moving to Colorado in 1976 and becoming the Rockies. Dr. McMullen moved the team to New Jersey over the objections of those who felt the area had enough NHL teams (Rangers, Islanders, and Flyers).
The team held a contest to name the team. According to the New York Times, over 10,000 votes were cast with some of the other names suggested including the Meadowlanders, the Coastals, the Blades, and the Patriots. As you might imagine, there were religious objections to the name, but folklore won out and the Devils were born. (Just on the off chance you don’t know, the “Jersey Devi” is a mythical hooved and winged creature that haunts the Pine Barrens)
It took a few years, but since moving to New Jersey, the Devils have been mostly successful, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals five times and winning three Cups, in ‘94-95, ‘99-00, and ’02-‘03. Upon their arrival in New Jersey, the Devils played at the Meadowlands complex in the Brendan Byrne/Continental Airlines Arena before moving to the Prudential Center in Newark for the 2007-08 season. Since the Nets moved to Brooklyn, the Devils are the only major sports franchise that specifically says they’re from New Jersey. With the announced end to the NHL season, the Devils have now missed the playoffs two years in a row.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.