Even as a non-hockey fan, the Devils have always been on my radar because everyone loves a good old American Cinderella story.

Intrigued by their rise in popularity, I decided to give the basics for those of you, like me, who love the story of anyone going from zero to hero.

For the uninitiated, although the New Jersey Devils ice hockey team are now based in Newark, they were actually introduced as the Kansas City Scouts in 1974, and later as the Colorado Rockies in 1976, before moving to New Jersey in 1982.

And nothing about that was popular.

Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

One reason for this lack of popularity is that the team struggled on the ice during their early years, winning only a handful of games each season.

Additionally, the team was not able to establish a strong local fan base in Kansas City and Colorado, as the region had limited hockey tradition and the team failed to connect with the community.

Furthermore, the team's name, colors and logo were not well received by the fans.

When they came here they were perceived as outsiders. And boring. The team struggled on and off the ice, and did not have a large following.

@NJDevils via Twitter
@NJDevils via Twitter

Fans and other NHL teams hated their defensive style of play and the perception that they were a boring team to watch.

According to lastwordonsports.com their style of play, known as the "trap," although highly effective in leading the Devils to three Stanley Cup championships in 1995, 2000, and 2003, was not considered exciting by many hockey fans.

In fact, a commenter on a subreddit back in 2015 called "How did the Devils ruin hockey?" complained: “The NZ [neutral zone] trap was well within the rules and was just an excellent bit of coaching, but it just killed all the speed and odd-man rushes that can make hockey so thrilling.”

Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

However, over time the Devils' reputation began to change. The team's success on the ice and the arrival of new, dynamic players helped to shift the perception of the team.

Additionally, the Devils' commitment to community outreach and charitable work helped to endear the team to fans and to the local community.

Nowadays, the team is considered a strong, respected and entertaining team with a dedicated fanbase.

According to sportsnet.ca they’ve seemingly been on the verge of breaking out for years, but haven’t made the playoffs since 2018.

It seems though, based on their underlying metrics so far this season, the Devils could finally be reaching their potential.

Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

This could be their year.

They have seen a rise in popularity due to a combination of factors such as strong on-ice performances, successful marketing campaigns, and a dedicated fan base.

Additionally, they have a strong team culture and a number of talented players that have helped to increase the team's visibility and attract new fans.

The team's success on the ice in the 1990s, including winning three Stanley Cup championships, also contributed to their popularity.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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