The New Jersey Devils will be wearing their original red, white, and green jerseys for the second time this season when they host the Boston Bruins on March 18th, 2014. This will be the fifth time the Devils will be wearing these jerseys since they switched to their current colors of red, black, and white to open the 1992-93 season. This will be the fourth time in Devils history they will be wearing their original colors at the Prudential Center. While the excitement amongst the players and the fans has not wavered since the Devils brought them back on March 17th, 2010, the results on the ice have not come close to that night either.
A Brief History of the Original Red, White, and Green Jerseys
When the Devils debuted at the old Brendan Byrne Arena they took the ice wearing the home white version of their original colors and skated to a 3-3 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils won their next game against their new rival, the New York Rangers, 3-2. The Devils actually earned at least one point in six of their first seven games in their original colors before they fell into an eighteen game winless streak that lasted from October 20th-November 26th 1982.
The Devils success on the ice in their original jerseys hit its high water mark during the spring of 1988. The Devils entered their season finale, a road game at Chicago Stadium against the Chicago Blackhawks, on a seven-game unbeaten streak as well as a four-game winning streak. In order to make the playoffs for the first time since their move to the Garden State, and just the second time in franchise history (1978 as the Colorado Rockies), the Devils had to get a victory and the two points in this Windy City match-up. The Rangers were two points ahead of the Devils for the 4th spot in the Patrick Division and a victory would give both teams 82 points but the tiebreaker would belong to the Devils since they would have two more wins.
“The Devils make the playoffs for the first time in their history!”-Gary Thorne
The Devils opened the scoring in the second period when none other than Ken Daneyko blasted a shot from the blue line for his fifth goal of the season (Mr. Devil scored 20 goals from 1988-1991, more than half of his career total of 36). New Jersey slipped and Chicago took advantage and eventually took a one goal lead. Then in the waning seconds of the second period Pat Verbeek put home a loose puck in the crease to tie the game at two. It was Verbeek’s 46th goal of the season (a team record until Brian Gionta scored 48 goals during the 2005-06 season). The Hawks regained the lead but the first of two John MacLean goals tied the game during the third period. In overtime Joe Cirella fought off the Chicago defense and fired a shot at goaltender Darren Pang. Pang made the initial save but the rebound landed right on MacLean’s stick in the slot and in an instant the Devils were playoff bound.
Relive the magic from April 3rd, 1988, when the Devils clinched their first Garden State playoff berth:
The magic continued as the Devils met the New York Islanders in the opening round of the playoffs. Much of the Islanders roster remained from the Islanders dynasty in the early 1980s when they won four straight Stanley Cups and a professional sports record nineteen consecutive playoff series. The Devils, however, prevailed in six games. In the Patrick Division Finals, the Devils battled the Washington Capitals and took the series in seven games. Their magical run would end in Game 7 of the Wales Conference Finals when they fell to the Boston Bruins 6-2 in Beantown.
New Jersey would not reach that same level of success in their final years wearing a jersey that contained green. They made the playoffs three more times from 1990-1992 but lost in the first round each time. Their final game wearing their original colors was a painful 8-4 loss at Madison Square Garden in Game 7 of the 1992 Patrick Division Semifinals on May 1st, 1992.
The Return of the Red, White, and Green
On March 17th, 2009, the Devils took to the ice at the Prudential Center for what would turn out to be a historic contest against the Blackhawks. On this St. Patrick’s Day, the Devils wore their usual red, white, and black jerseys but the crowd celebrated the Irish holiday and a smattering of green could be seen throughout the building. The history of the Devils and the much older history of the game came together as Martin Brodeur, the only remaining Devil to have worn their original colors before the green was switched to black, won his 552nd game and broke the National Hockey League record for career wins by a goaltender. Also on this record-breaking evening Patrik Elias picked up an assist on the Devils third goal, the 702nd point of his career, and broke the franchise record in points. The Devils 3-2 victory was so memorable that the organization decided to relive the memories a year later by bringing back their original colors for a night.
The Devils faced the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, at the Rock on March 17th, 2010 wearing their red, white, and green jerseys and put on quite a show. In an atmosphere that replicated their St. Patrick’s Day contest from the year prior, the Devils cruised to a 5-2 win with Brodeur and Elias playing a leading role. Brodeur stopped 24 of 26 shots while Elias added a goal and an assist. The goal by Elias, scored while shorthanded on a breakaway, was also the game-winner. The defense, led by Colin White and Andy Greene, limited Sidney Crosby to two shots on goal while keeping him off the score sheet. With the victory the Devils swept the six-game season series with the Penguins.
The Devils first Retro Night was a rousing success:
The Devils brought back Retro Night the following season and played like they did during most of the 1980s. They were shut out by the Capitals 3-0 on March 18th, 2011, despite outshooting Washington 33-12. New Jersey’s third Retro Night was even worse as they fell to the Penguins 5-2 on March 17th, 2012. The Devils were outshot 44-14. Their lone goals were scored by Greene and Petr Sykora.
Most recently the Devils wore their original colors at Yankee Stadium against the Rangers during the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series. The Devils looked to be reviving their green magic when Elias scored to give the Devils a 3-1 lead late in the first period but the Rangers responded with six unanswered goals. Jerseys Team fell to 1-3 since bringing back their original colored jerseys as the Rangers crushed the Devils 7-3.
Red, White, and Green Jersey Statistics
As the Devils look to win for the second time while wearing their Retro Jersey since they put their original colors into the vault following the 1992 Stanley Cup Playoffs, here are some facts to consider when the Devils take the ice on Tuesday night against the Bruins:
*Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador, and Martin Brodeur are the only current Devils that wore the Devils original colors during their first Retro Night Game in 2010. Brodeur is the only current Devil to have worn the original colors before the Devils switched to red, white, and black.
*Patrik Elias is the Devils current Retro Jersey points leader with three goals, two assists, and five points.
*Andy Greene has a goal and an assist for two points and Mark Fayne has two assists for two points in the red, white, and green jerseys which is tops amongst defensemen.
*The Devils last faced the Bruins in their red, white, and green jerseys on March 26th, 1992. Scott Stevens had a pair of assists, Randy McKay had two goals, and the Devils defeated Boston 4-2. This game was also the first of 1,253 career regular season appearances by Martin Brodeur. Brodeur stopped 24 of 26 shots for his first NHL win in his first NHL start. Future Devils assistant coach Adam Oates was held without a point and finished the night -2.
*The Devils are 7-17-6, 4-8-3 on home ice at the Brendan Byrne Arena, in their original colors against the Bruins. From 1982-1993 the Devils were 285-422-93 in 800 games during the regular season wearing their original colors. In the playoffs the Devils were 19-21.
*Martin Brodeur has a record of 3-4-0 wearing the red, white, and green jerseys in his career. He made one career playoff appearance wearing the original colors. He stopped 12 of 15 shots and took the loss in Game 5 of the 1992 Patrick Division Semifinals.
Leo is in his second year with THW. He covers the 3-Time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils and the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League. You can follow Leo on Twitter, @LeoScaglioneJr.