Eleven years ago today, Scott Stevens hoisted the Stanley Cup in front of fans at Continental Airlines Arena as the New Jersey Devils clinched their third Stanley Cup championship since 1995. Here are three things to reminisce over from the last time the Devils were the best in the NHL:
Lucky Number Three
To Stan Fischler, a three- goal lead is the most dangerous of leads in hockey, but try selling that to players on the 2003 New Jersey Devils roster who shutout their opponents on six occasions by the final score of 3-0 on their way to their 2003 Stanley Cup championship.
In the opening round of the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Devils defeated the Boston Bruins in five games, earning two of their four wins with the final score of 3-0. They would do it once again against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference semi-finals before making their way to the Stanley Cup Final where they shutout their opponent in Games 1,2, and 7.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur set an NHL postseason record by racking up seven postseason shutouts on his way to his third Stanley Cup.
Maybe all of this time, Fischler actually meant dangerous for the team trailing by three goals.
Pat Burns makes it one to remember
Pat Burns began his coaching career in 1988-1989 as the bench boss to the Montreal Canadiens, leading his squad of players to the Stanley Cup Final where he would eventually lose to Terry Crisp and the Calgary Flames. After over a decade of coaching in the NHL, Burns returned to the Final in his first season as the coach of the New Jersey Devils where he earned his first and last Stanley Cup.
Burns led the Devils to an impressive 46-20-10-6 record, finishing first in the Atlantic Division with 108 points, all while battling colon cancer in 2004.
His battle with recurring cancer would force him to step down from his role with the Devils as head coach, and instead took a job as a special assignment coach for New Jersey.
Five years later, Burns lost his life to the cancer which started in his colon and spread to his lungs. The three-time Jack Adams winner for the league’s best coach passed away in November of 2010 in Quebec but his legacy, though shorter than anyone would expect, lives on in New Jersey.
Jamie Langenbrunner leads the league
Lou Lamoriello likes winning, but he doesn’t like to do it on the basis that all attention will be on one line. At least he didn’t in 2002 when he shipped off Jason Arnott along with Randy McKay and a first-round draft pick to the Dallas Stars for Jamie Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk.
At first the thought of losing their 2000 Stanley Cup clinching goal scorer seemed like a strange move for a team that had won two Cups since 1995, but whatever it was that the Devils saw in Langenbrunner became apparent in the 2002-2003 season.
That of course was all prior to his known moniker among Devils fans who have come to know the two-time Stanley Cup Champion as Captain Grumpypants since his departure.
In his first full season with the Devils, Langenbrunner put up a then career best 22 goals and 33 assists for 55 points in 78 regular season games, and continued to strive with his new club during their 2003 Stanley Cup Playoff appearance where he helped the team earn their third Cup and his second.
Langenbrunner finished the postseason with a league-high 11 goals and 18 points along with teammate Scott Niedermayer who collected 16 assists and two goals to tie Langenbrunner for the league leader. The 18 point total was the lowest NHL Playoff total since the 1968-69 season.
In 2011, Langenbrunner handed in the jersey for the team in which he captained since 2007, as the Devils traded him back to the Stars where he began his NHL career.