The year was 1974 and the song “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band was number one on the Billboard Top 100. On Jan 13th a New Jersey Devils legend was born in Moscow, Russia. Sergei Brylin was selected 42nd overall in the 1992 draft. He is one of five Devils players who won all three Stanley Cups during their dynasty in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
A Decorated Career with the Devils
Brylin played 63 games with the Devils American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate – the Albany River Rats during the 1994-95 season. He was called up to the Devils and finished the regular season appearing in 26 games and earning 14 points. That postseason he played in 12 games that led to him eventually raising the first Stanley Cup of his career. The team defeated the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 by a score of 5-2. Brylin scored New Jersey’s fourth goal of the game.
“The Moscow native soon grew into the best utility forward the Garden Staters ever had, said Stan Fischler. “Sergei’s goal in Game 4 of the 1995 Final against Detroit proved a key to the remarkable sweep.”
In the spring of 2000 Brylin found himself competing for his second Stanley Cup, this time their opponent was the Dallas Stars. Head coach Larry Robinson put Brylin on a line with John Madden and Jay Pandolfo. The three forwards made up one of the best lines in New Jersey’s history. They were utilized as a shutdown line and night after night battled their opponent’s top players. New Jersey won their second Stanley Cup in Game 6 in Dallas, Texas.
Brylin’s final championship came in 2003. He scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The then 29-year-old made a name for himself as a jack-of-all-trades who was capable of playing all three forward positions. He was responsible defensively and embodied what it meant to wear the Devils’ logo.
His Career After the Championships
The 5-foot-10 forward remained with the Devils until the 2007-08 season. Along with Ken Daneyko and Patrik Elias, Brylin is the only other player to spend his entire career in New Jersey. He was 34-years-old when the Devils decided against re-signing him. He appeared in 765 games and finished his career with 129 goals, and 308 points.
The Russian native was not ready to hang up his skates and returned to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. He appeared in 196 games putting up 65 points. His professional career came to an end after the 2011-12 season. After a stint as a special-assignment scout for the Devils, he was introduced as an assistant head coach for Devils’ American Hockey league affiliate.
“He (Brylin) stands for everything the New Jersey Devils stand for — work ethic, playing the right way and competitiveness and professionalism,” Form Devils’ head coach Peter DeBoer said in 2013. “Hopefully all those things rub off on the young players down there.” (from ‘Brylin a rookie all over again in Albany’, Times Union, 09/10/13).
Coaching the Utica Comets
“It’s a new challenge for us, a new city. We are looking forward to putting a good season together,” said Brylin. “It’s been a tough time the past few years with the pandemic, and all that. Looking forward to next year.”
Brylin began his coaching career with the Devils AHL affiliate in Albany who relocated to Binghamton in 2017. The 2020-21 season will be the first for the Utica Comets as an affiliate of the Devils. He is looking to share his knowledge and experience from both his days as a player and as a coach to help the youngsters on the Comet’s roster.
Brylin may not have been the flashiest player in a Devils uniform, but that does not take away the legacy he left during his 13-season playing career. There are debates to this day questioning if the organization should retire his jersey number. Brylin’s variety of skills and willingness to help on all ends of the ice made him an integral part of the Devils franchise and history.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and covers both the Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly Youtube show produced by THW. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettosBlog and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.