Once upon a time, being a small player in the NHL was a non-starter. It didn’t matter how fast you were, your stick-handling ability or knack for scoring, the small stigma was tough to shake. Netting his first NHL goal, against the Detroit Red Wings, Joe Whitney, at 5-6, became the smallest player to score, in the history of the New Jersey Devils. After leading the AHL Albany Devils in scoring in each of the past three seasons, Whitney cashed in, in what was his third career NHL contest.
Including Whitney, the Devils roster consists of ten players (Mike Cammalleri, Stephen Gionta, Scott Gomez, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Jordin Tootoo, Andy Greene, Peter Harrold, Marek Zidlicky) whose height is under six feet tall. So with that in mind, which other little Devils have played big in the Garden State?
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) January 1, 2015
- Zach Parise – At 5-11, Parise skated seven years and 502 games for the Devils. During that span, Parise racked up 194 tallies, ranking fourth in franchise history. Additionally, Parise ranks ninth in club history with 410 points. In 2011-12, Parise helped captain the Devils to an Eastern Conference title.
- Pat Verbeek – The 5-9 Verbeek, also spent seven years in a Devils sweater, suiting up for 463 games. In that time frame, the durable Verbeek lit the lamp 170 times, good enough for sixth in franchise history.
- John Madden – A perfect picture of perseverance, the 5-11 Madden was told by his University of Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson, to find another line of work. The un-drafted Madden worked his way up the ranks, posting a then AHL Albany River Rats record for points in a season, notching 98 in the 1998-99 campaign. Madden played ten of this 13 seasons with New Jersey, hoisting the Stanley Cup twice with the Devils and yet again with the Chicago Blackhawks. In Devils history, Madden ranks fifth with 117 even-strength markers and holds the top spot with 17 short-handed goals. In 2000-01, Madden earned the Selke Trophy.
- Sergei Brylin – One of five Devils to be a part of all three Stanley Cup titles, the 5-10 Brylin was a key player on those squads. Across 13 seasons and 765 contests, Brylin registered six double-digit goal campaigns. Additionally, Brylin notched 15 markers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- Aaron Broten – Dating back to the days of the Colorado Rockies, the 5-10 Broten played 641 games for the franchise. Broten’s 162 goals and 307 helpers rank eighth in club history. Broten’s 469 points are sixth in team history.
- Brian Gionta – Brother of Stephen, the 5-7 Brian played 473 games across seven seasons with New Jersey. Gionta was a part of the Devils 2002-03 Stanley Cup championship team. Gionta also holds the Devils single-season mark with 48 goals scored in 2005-06. Additionally, Gionta places tenth in team history with 152 goals.
- Neal Broten – The 5-9 brother of Aaron. Broten was a key piece to the Devils first Stanley Cup winning team in 1994-95. During that Cup run, Broten recorded 19 points in 20 games. In that stretch, Broten potted four game-winning-goals.
- Brian Rafalski – Shifting to the blue line, it’s the 5-10 Rafalski. Rafalski was a two-time All-Star and twice a Stanley Cup champion with the Devils (later winning an additional Cup with the Detroit Red Wings). In seven seasons and 541 contests with the Devils, Rafalski posted 311 points. Rafalski notched 17 postseason goals for New Jersey, including four game winning tallies. Rafalski was recently inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Glenn Resch – Between the pipes and behind the microphone, the 5-9 Glenn “Chico” Resch. Resch was an All-Star during the 1984-85 season. Dating back to the days of the Rockies, “Chico” ranks third in wins and games played and is fifth in saves. Resch is also among the most colorful characters in Devils history.
- Chris Terreri – The 5-9 Terreri is only outranked in most Devils goaltending categories by Martin Brodeur. Terreri was part of two Devils Stanley Cup teams. The current goalie coach played in 302 games across 12 seasons in New Jersey. Terreri ranks second in games played, wins, saves, minutes and third in shutouts in franchise history.
- Steve Sullivan – I’m not typically one to play favorites but I’ll make an exception here. Yes he only played parts of three seasons and 58 games in a Devils sweater, book-ending his career with New Jersey, however, the 5-9 Sullivan was a spark plug with the Devils. A classic case of coming up in that “too small” NHL, Sullivan may have stuck longer with the Devils, had he come through the ranks a few years later. In three years with the AHL River Rats, Sullivan posted 72 goals and 99 assists, for 171 points in 143 games, helping Albany to a 1994-95 Calder Cup title. With the Devils, Sullivan had 36 points and gave the team a little jump in his 1996 call-up. On his NHL career, Sullivan potted 290 goals across 1,011 games.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.