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 “Arena Behavior/Tradition/Trent”.
The “essential” arena/behavior/tradition/trend is crowd chants.
The first one that is of personal note to me is the “D-E-V-I-L-S” chant by Mark Baumann. I love that the whole crowd gets into it because everyone knows the simple verses. Also, I am from the same town as him. I am two years older than his son and we used to play roller hockey together. It was great being at the old place, sitting a section over from him and then going down to the concourse to chat with him at the intermissions. Often times in the arena, everyone tries to start their own “Let’s Go Devils” chant. While it is nice that everyone is into the game, you don’t get that same joint, continuous effect. When Baumann gets roaring, the crowd becomes one with a singular, consistent echo.
Another one of my favorites is done by the Section 233 Crazies. After every goal that gives the Devils lead or extends their advantage, for example, they shout out the following: “And it’s TWO…NOTHING…NEW JERSEY!” I wish this chant became more known throughout the rink. However, only the diehards know what it represents. It is an homage paid to former New Jersey Devils radio announcer Mike Miller. We spoke to Mike earlier this month about his time with the Devils and specifically asked how the goal call came about. What I love about the chant and the call is the “New Jersey” part. I am a Giants and Yankees fan as well, but they are New York teams. This is my one and only team that is from New Jersey. So I always felt it meant a lot more when either a radio announcer, TV anchor or other media figure referred to us simply as “New Jersey”. The state gets beat up a lot by outsiders who don’t really know Jersey at all. I think that is why some fans take extra pride in the Devils, perhaps more so than their other favorite teams. Since Mike has left, Ray T. and the Crazies carry on the tradition by belting it out whenever the Devils score a goal to take the lead or extend the margin on the opposition.
Devils fans like to get creative (and no, I DO NOT mean certain teams/players “sucking”) and one of the best is the “Marty’s Better” chant. It was created during the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals when the Devils took on goaltender J.S. Giguere and the Anaheim Ducks. For the fourth time in his career, Martin Brodeur was going up against another hot goaltender in the Finals. For the fourth time, he was not considered the best netminder in the series. As the Devils started to wind down a shutout in Game 1, Devils fans in attendance birthed the phrase “Marty’s Better”. Brodeur of course, went on to shutout them out in Game 2 and again in the clinching Game 7. It still lives today, done more so when the New York Rangers and “King” Henrik Lundqvist are in town.
Best Of The Rest: Like the original Puck Daddy article says, Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll Part II is a huge part of Devils culture. It has soured a bit for me lately because of the “You Suck” crowd vocals added at the end (that may be an article for another day). It is still a great track that brings the crowd together. What about Score-O in-between the second and third period? Today’s version stinks though. I liked the old way they did it. Anyone who made it in from center ice got to come back on the final home game of the regular season and duke it out in a tournament-style fashion. That always made the last game before the playoffs a lot of fun. Also, the pom-poms in the playoff games were a great tradition. The towels were ok for the first few rounds, I didn’t mind them. The thundersticks were kind of silly when they handed them out during the early 2000s. I can’t even explain how much I loved the playoff pom-poms, especially when they wore the home white jerseys. After they scored a goal, to see all the white pom-poms rocking (skip to 2:27 and 3:27) in rhythm to Gary Glitter…it was such a majestic view. I wish they would go back to those in the later playoff rounds as opposed to the towels.
Thanks for reading. All feedback is appreciated.