It’s assuring for New Jersey Devils fans that numerous skaters won multiple Stanley Cups with the organization. In fact, five former Devils were members of all three Stanley Cup championship teams from 1994-95 through 2002-03.
Four of those players had their numbers retired while one likely won’t earn the nod. Considering New Jersey’s championship success, there are a number of skaters who deserve honorable recognition since the team’s last Stanley Cup title in 2002-03.
Here are three players destined for the Devils’ Ring of Honor.
After lighting the lamp at the University of Michigan from 1993-94 until 1996-97, forward John Madden was surprisingly undrafted. Thankfully, Devils then-general manager Lou Lamoriello inked the Barrie, Ontario native prior to the 1998-99 campaign.
Madden found his stride with New Jersey the following season and wasted no time turning heads around the league.
No. 11 found the back of the net 16 times during his rookie season in 1999-00 while 6 of those goals were shorthanded. Those 6 shorthanded tallies that year and 17 overall during “Mad Dog’s” tenure with New Jersey are franchise records.
It’s safe to say the 5-foot-11 forward will always have a home in New Jersey and is a fan-favorite. Madden had a positive impact for the Devils during his rookie campaign en route to the team’s second Stanley Cup championship, while also acting as a key member for the 2002-03 Cup team.
Those two teams are arguably the best Devils teams to ever hit the ice. While the center was a role player, let’s not forget that he skated on rostered teams that entailed plenty of depth in all areas on the ice.
Madden was rarely a scratch, deadly on the penalty kill and was primarily responsible for skating against the opposition’s top lines on a nightly basis – especially during the postseason.
After taking home the 2000-01 Selke Trophy early in his NHL career, it was evident that Madden was one of the best – if not the best – two-way forwards in the league. His value for the Devils was never overlooked by fans, but one can wonder if he would’ve been more productive offensively on a different team.
His 712 career regular-season games sit just outside the top 10 for games played in team history, and he’s one of 11 skaters to play in over 100 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Devils (112).
There’s no questioning that the Ring of Honor at the Rock is just waiting for No. 11 to join.
Since forward John MacLean retired from the NHL, there’s been one big question and cloud following the longtime assistant coach. Will the Devils retire No. 15?
While that subject might have been answered considering it hasn’t happened already, there’s no reason why “Johnny Mac” shouldn’t be inducted into the Devils’ Ring of Honor.
The 1983 first-round draft pick spent over a decade donning a Devils’ sweater and was one of the few skaters to wear both the red and green colors in addition to the team’s current scheme of red, white and black.
No. 15 ranks in the top 10 for goals (347), assists (354) and game-winning goals (55). Also, keep in mind that he was first in goals and assists in Devils history until the great Patrik Elias passed him. MacLean is a rare commodity in relation to New Jersey considering he experienced the miserable times in a Devils’ sweater during the 1980s and the bittersweetness of winning the organization’s first Stanley Cup in 1994-95.
From 1983-84 until 1996-97, MacLean recorded 50 or more points in a season on seven occasions, which also included a career-high 87 points in 1988-89. The winger arguably put the Devils on the map and earned them positive recognition after the club was labeled a “Mickey Mouse” organization by none other than Wayne Gretzky.
Who could forget MacLean’s game-winning goal on the road and in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks in 1987-88 that clinched the team’s first ever playoff berth? MacLean unfortunately is overshadowed considering that skaters such as Scott Stevens, Scott Nidermayer, Elias and the great Martin Brodeur all won three Stanley Cups with New Jersey and didn’t force their way out of the Garden State like No. 15.
While the beloved Devil eventually signed a contract with the New York Rangers in 1998-99, he’s still one of the most successful skaters to lace up the skates for New Jersey.
Similar to MacLean, there are reasons to believe that forward Sergei Brylin’s No. 18 should get retired. His number isn’t hanging high and proud from the rafters but there’s no doubting that Brylin will eventually be inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Brylin was a homegrown product after New Jersey selected him in the second round at the 1992 NHL Draft. The Russian native’s rookie campaign was during the 1994-95 Stanley Cup championship season and he skated in his final NHL contest with the Devils in 2007-08.
The depth forward spent his entire career with New Jersey and helped the team win three Stanley Cups in the process. The humble and soft-spoken skater earned himself a spot with elite company in team history. Brylin is one of five skaters that won all three Cups with the franchise, and his 765 career regular-season games in a Devils sweater were just 21 games shy of tying Bobby Holik for 10th all-time in franchise history.
Like Madden, Brylin thrived as a third or fourth-line forward while shutting down the opposition’s top offensive skaters. The Devils dynasty years and success from the early 1990s until the early 2000s wasn’t possible without a knowledgeable and defensive-minded forward such as him. It’s also interesting to realize that while more than a handful of players have worn No. 18 since Brylin’s retirement in 2007-08, none have been notable in team history other than Brendan Shanahan’s brief return in 2008-09.
It seems like the Devils have avoided dishing out the number out of respect for Brylin.
The longtime Devil and now assistant coach for the organization’s American Hockey League affiliate, was never a standout player like Elias or MacLean. Still, a player of his tenure and overall contributions rightfully deserves recognition in the Ring of Honor.
It’s evident that the Devils accomplished success – and in the playoffs – was due to the team’s diverse talent and team-oriented players.
Kyle McKenna is a social media specialist & freelancer who also covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Fansided & Hooked On Hockey Magazine.