For the month of August, The Puck Daddy over at Yahoo Sports is breaking down “The Essentials” for every NHL franchise and recently touched on the New Jersey Devils. The feature piece includes players, coaches, long-time arena traditions and stadium food. Here at Pucks & Pitchforks, we’ll break down each category and give our take, as well as taking a look at who barely missed the cut. Next up, the category of “Unsung Hero”:
Our choice for “essential” Devils unsung hero is Patrik Elias.
He is the unsung hero of the Devils, but is also unsung in his place in NHL lore. Heading into this season, Elias ranks 99th all-time in NHL history in points. With a solid year, he’ll move somewhere into the 80s on the all-time list. He is 118th on the all-time goals list. And assists? 109th. A few more productive years and he could go down as one of the best players in the history of the game. All of this and rarely does he get much press outside of the Devils beat writers. No matter to him though; Patty always goes about his business.
He is the all-time Devils leader in points and goals. It was a long time ago, but remember when he finished 3rd in ALL of the NHL in points with 96 back in 2000-01? He was also in the Top-10 in goals and assists that year.
He never took over a playoff series and dominated, but he was always there for either the timely goal, like Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000, or the spectacular goal, like this shorthanded gem from the 2000 semis against the Toronto Maple Leafs:
He turned down signing with the New York Rangers to stay with New Jersey. He was offered a bundle from the cross-town rivals and turned it down to stay with the Devs.
I feel like Elias has become Scott Niedermayer in a sense. Fans appreciate what he does but some won’t fully appreciate his value and his worth until he has left the club. With Niedermayer, he just fit in. He just played his role behind Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko and others. With Elias, he simply did his thing behind the likes Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur as well. Even with the consistent numbers he has put up, he is not at the forefront of discussion when outsiders talk about the New Jersey Devils. Such silence may be because there is not much flashy about his game. Most Devils fans have embraced that workman-like attitude he brings to the ice.
Something else that gets overlooked is that he is always willing to do interviews, be it for TV or for the print media. He’s an A+ character guy.
Because of his longevity, his consistent production and his lead-by-example work ethic, he is the long-time, unsung hero of the New Jersey Devils.
Best of the Rest: I feel like a lot of people would pick the guy I am about to mention. I decided to go against the grain instead, but Sergei Brylin is right there for unsung hero of this franchise. He is one of only five guys to be with the club for all three Stanley Cup championships. He served in many roles and the thing fans loved most was that he was consistent in the hard work he put in, as well as playing defensively-responsible hockey. Brylin exemplifies what a Devils is all about. Include Colin White in here as well. As a rookie in 99-00, he came in and played important minutes for this club on their way to back-to-back Finals appearances. He was a really viable option for the Devils on their blueline until the lockout came about. The new rules exposed some of his weaknesses and things got worse when he took a puck to the eye which forced him to wear a shield for the rest of his days in Jersey. No question that White went out every night and gave all he had.
Thanks for reading. All feedback is appreciated.
Tags: Colin White Ilya Kovalchuk Ken Daneyko Martin Brodeur New Jersey Devils New York Rangers Patrik Elias Philadelphia Flyers Scott Niedermayer Scott Stevens Sergei Brylin Toronto Maple Leafs Zach Parise