The New Jersey Devils have three championships to their name, and they came in an era that was as close to a dynasty as possible. The Devils were dominant in the late 90s and early 2000s. Over the 10 seasons between 1994 and 2003, the Devils made the playoffs nine times, made the Conference Finals five times, and won the Stanley Cup three times in that span. Since 1994, only the Detroit Red Wings have more championships than the Devils.
That sounds like a helluva run, but next year that run ended 20 years ago. Two full decades will have come and gone with no more championships. Before we make everyone sad, let’s get to the crux of the article. Can Devils fans still claim these titles in arguments with, say, Rangers fans?
This writer takes the argument that fans should be able to claim titles if they’ve been alive for them. If you saw it happen, then it happened for you and you can claim it. There is some gray area about championships that happened very early in one’s life, but just to make things easier, let’s say it counts. That means anyone who’s around 19 years old or more can claim at least one championship and anyone who is at least 27 years old can claim all of the Devils championships under this rule.
Others say that fans should be able to claim all championships. An article from Complex in 2014 says that fandom should be considered a birthright. Is that how we should all feel? Do Rangers fans get to claim the 1933 and 1940 championships? Should Yankee fans be able to claim all 27 championships? Even the ones with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig?
That seems like a hard case to make. Although, it is pretty complicated. If a fan has never seen a championship, it seems strange to claim them. On the other hand, it’s also strange to tell a fan not to claim a team’s legacy. These fans live and breathe this sports and team. Yet we’re supposed to only claim the most current team’s record?
That would be a hard sell for Devils fans who haven’t had an actual contender for a decade. Taking away from their legacy makes the current product even worse.
There’s the other option of just putting up a yearly quota of when championships expire for a fanbase. This has been brought up by Devils fan The Bratt Pack last night:
Two very clear expiration timelines make sense for this exercise. Either 25 years or 50 years would make sense. 50 years would eliminate some of the championships from the very early eras of sport. A lot of the Original Six championships would not count for those fanbases. Some of those early baseball championships would come off the books. Most of the Super Bowls would still count, but some of those NFL Championships wouldn’t. Nobody wants to hear about pre-Super Bowl Championships Lions fans. Get over it.
The 25-year timeline is an interesting one as well. It basically gives you the recent era of your team and says you can claim these titles. Most of these are still in the memory banks even for fairweather fans.
It’s hard to find a proper solution. This is all opinion-based, and honestly, people are going to do what they want. It feels like the “lifetime claim” still feels like the one most grounded in logic if we’re picking any limit on claims at all.