May 30, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils players Travis Zajac (19) , Steve Bernier (18) and Jacob Josefson (16) warm up before game one of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

Does The Prudential Center Finally Feel Like Home?

That’s the question I have today for the New Jersey Devils fanbase.  Does the Prudential Center actually feel like HOME now that the team has had success there?  I think so.

For the last few years, it felt like a place where the Devils played, not their home arena.  There needs to be some special moments as an organization where your fanbase goes, “Hey remember (insert game here) at The Rock a few years back?”  Long-time Devils fans can recall many-a-games at the old Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena.

That’s when an arena becomes a special place.  Up until this year, had anything really special taken place in Newark, NJ?  Not really.  I think everyone remembers Martin Brodeur getting the all-time wins record back in the spring of 2009.  Other than that though…there hasn’t been much that makes “The Pru” feel like home…until this year.

Personally, playoff success has a lot to do with it.  Before this past season, could anyone really consider The Rock a “special place”?  In their inaugural year there in 2007-08, they lost to their bitter rivals the New York Rangers in five games.  The three home games in Newark?  All losses.  The next year they took on the Carolina Hurricanes in the quarterfinals.  Jersey allowed two goals in the game’s final minute of Game 7 at home to lose the series.  In 2009-10, they were steamrolled by the Philadelphia Flyers and dropped two of their three games on home ice, doing so in underwhelming fashion.  Of course in the following year, they had the worst start in recent memory and missed out on the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.  That is not a very memorable first four years at a “home”.

Then this year came.  Let’s be honest, it looked really, really bad in the first round.  Up 3-0 moments into Game 3 against the Florida Panthers and they lost the game?  I thought they might never win a series at The Rock.  Then Game 6 happened and Travis Zajac saved us from another embarrassing first round exit at home.  Alexei Ponikarovsky brought home a memorable win in Game 3 of the semifinals against the Flyers with an OT winner.  Forever etched into Devils’ fans memories will be Adam Henrique’s winner just a minute into overtime in Game 6 against the Rangers in the Conference Finals.  Those in attendance won’t forget those nights anytime soon.

Perhaps they are not the first ever to do this, but before Game 1 of the semis against Philadelphia, the Devils sent out their regular presale e-mail notification to their mailing list.  However, this e-mail contained a specific message inside:

Additionally, we hope you are as dedicated as we are to ensuring that The Rock is filled with as many Devils Fans as possible. We ask that you consider that collective rallying cry as you make your decisions on whether or not to pick up additional seats for re-sale. We ask that if you are interested in re-sale, that you do everything in your power to try to get the tickets in the hands of other Devils fans specifically. 

Eric Kussin
Vice President, Ticket Sales and Service

That was really encouraging to see as a Devils fan.  They did everything could in terms of presale/on-sale-to-the-public parameters, and then encouraged the Devils fanbase to make sure that Flyers (and then Rangers) fans couldn’t get their hands on tickets so easily for games at The Rock.  From the eye test, these were the fewest amounts of Flyers and Rangers fans I had ever seen for any game in NJ.

Lastly, it was my first season as a season-ticket holder.  While it may make me sound foolish, the 2010-11 Devils helped me immensely in my choice to become a STH.  The Devils offered great deals that allowed you to go to every game for as low as $22.  I took full advantage of it.  I looked forward to going to the rink every night.  Before 2010-11, I had taken the team and its success for granted.  Regular season wins, Atlantic Division titles and playoff runs were SUPPOSED to happen.  It was all taken away that year.  So this season I enjoyed every win like it was the last.  I got to see quite a fun year, up close and personal, every single night.  It was a great year and I’m glad The Rock now feels like home.

Does the Prudential Center finally feel like home?  Perhaps it has felt like home since the first year?  Or does there need to be more memories for it to be considered home?

Thanks for reading.  All feedback is appreciated.

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Tags: Adam Henrique Alexei Ponikarovsky Atlantic Division Brendan Byrne Arena Carolina Hurricanes Continental Airlines Arena Florida Panthers Martin Brodeur New York Rangers Philadelphia Flyers Prudential Center The Rock Travis Zajac

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