Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The 1995 New Jersey Devils: Where Are They Now?

June 24, 1995, 20 years ago today: At 11:09 PM -- don't bet me on the time, I was at the Town Pub in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and as the seconds ticked down, I made sure I looked at my watch so I would always know the exact time that it happened -- the clock ran out on Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, Bergen County, New Jersey, putting the final touch on a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings, and giving the New Jersey Devils their 1st World Championship.

Where are the '95 Devils now? The players are listed here by their uniform number, name, position, and current age. I give brief summaries of their careers, and list their current status, where known.

Dr. John McMullen, Owner: The native of Jersey City and longtime resident of Montclair -- Yogi Berra was his next-door neighbor -- who purchased the NHL's Colorado Rockies in 1982, and moved them to New Jersey, sold the team in 2000. Died September 16, 2005, age 87. The Devils wore a "JM" memorial patch on their jerseys during the 2005-06 season.

His alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, named their hockey arena for him. After graduating from Annapolis, he served 15 years in the Navy, including World War II, and rose to the rank of Commander. His doctorate was in mechanical engineering. He also owned baseball's Houston Astros from 1979 to 1993, having been one of George Steinbrenner's "limited partners" in owning the Yankees from 1973 to 1979. As he put it, "Nothing is so limited as being one of George's limited partners."

Lou Lamoriello, General Manager, 72: Still the Devils' team president, having added Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003, and unsuccessful trips to the Finals in 2001 and 2012, he finally stepped down as general manager last month, handing the reins over to Ray Shero. Coached the Devils for 50 games in 2005-06 and 3 games in 2006-07.

He was also the GM of the U.S. team that won the 1996 World Cup. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sons Chris and Tim also work in the Devils' organization. Also has a daughter, Heidi.

Jacques Lemaire, Head Coach, 69: Already a member of the Hall of Fame due to having won 8 Stanley Cups and scored 366 goals as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, he coached the Devils from 1993 to 1997, then became the 1st head coach and 1st general manager of the expansion Minnesota Wild, leading them to the Western Conference Finals in 2003, nearly putting them against the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals. (Their goalie was his nephew, Manny Fernandez.)

Was an assistant coach on the Canadian team that won the 2010 Winter Olympics. Coached the Devils again in 2009-10, and came back for a 3rd tenure in 2010-11. He is now a "special assignment coach" for the Devils, but has said that he will not take another head coaching job.

Larry Robinson, Assistant Coach, 66: Already a member of the Hall of Fame due to having won 6 Stanley Cups and 2 Norris Trophies as the NHL's top defenseman with the Canadiens. After the '95 Cup, he was immediately hired to coach the Los Angeles Kings, lasting 4 seasons. Coached the Devils to the 2000 Cup and the 2001 Finals, but was fired late in the 2001-02 season. Brought back as an assistant on the Devils team that won the 2003 Cup. Became head coach again after Pat Burns' cancer returned in 2005, but left in midseason due to concerns over his own health.

Stayed in the Devils' organization until 2012, when he was hired in his current job, as assistant coach of the San Jose Sharks. He is now also their director of player development.

Jacques Caron, Assistant Coach, 75: Remained the Devils' goaltending coach until he retired in 2013. Is now out of hockey. Had tended goal in the NHL with L.A.,  the St. Louis Blues, and the Vancouver Canucks, his NHL arrival delayed until the 1967 expansion. He also played in the WHA with the Cleveland Crusaders and the Cincinnati Stingers.

Dennis "Red' Gendron, Assistant Coach, 57: Hired as a Devils coach after leading the University of Maine to the 1993 National Championship, he remained in the Devils' organization until 2004, before moving on. He is now back as the head coach at Maine.

Ted Schuch, medical trainer: I don't have much information on him, only that he was fired after 1 more season, replaced by a man named Bill Murray -- not the legendary comic actor.

3 Ken Daneyko, defenseman, 51: Stayed with the Devils through all 3 Cups, his last game being a surprise inclusion by Pat Burns in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. "Mr. Devil" immediately became a Devils' broadcaster, a post he still holds, and his uniform Number 3 was retired. Although he was never truly a great player, his 20 seasons as a Devils player and 12 seasons and counting as a Devils broadcaster make him one of the most popular figures in team history.

4 Scott Stevens, defenseman, 51: Stayed with the Devils through all 3 Cups, including being awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for most valuable player of the Playoffs in 2000. Midway through the 2003-04 season, sustained a concussion and missed the rest of the season. Despite the added recovery time of the 2004-05 lockout, he never played again, and retired. The 1st Devil to get his uniform number retired, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in his 1st year of eligibility.

In 2012, he returned to the Devils as an assistant coach. Right after this past Christmas, he and Adam Oates were named co-head coaches, an experiment that lasted for the rest of the season. No longer holds that post under new head coach John Hynes, is presumably still a part of the organization, though his current capacity may not be defined.

6 Tommy Albelin, defenseman, 51: Remained with the Devils for 1 more season, then played for the Calgary Flames before returning in 2001. Remained until 2006, and retired. Has remained in the Devils organization, coaching at various levels, including as an assistant coach in the recent Oates-Stevens regime.

7 Chris McAlpine, defenseman, 43: Traded to St. Louis in 1996, also played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Atlanta Thrashers, and Chicago Blackhawks, before wrapping up his career with L.A. in 2003. Now a player agent living in Minneapolis.

8 Mike Peluso, left wing, 49: The left side of "the Crash Line," he was traded to St. Louis after the 1996 season. He was playing for Calgary when a back injury ended his career early in the 1997-98 season. Now scouts his native Minnesota for the Edmonton Oilers.

9 Neal Broten, center, 55: Aside from former New York Islander Ken Morrow, he is the only member of the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" team to have won a Stanley Cup. His brothers Aaron and Paul also played for the Devils; indeed, Aaron was the last member of the original 1982-83 Devils to still be with the team, although he was gone well before the '95 Cup.

Neal had come to the Devils in the middle of the 1994-95 season, after 14 years with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise, playing most of that time (1981 to 1993) in his home State. Traded to Los Angeles early in the 1996-97, the Kings soon waived him, and he returned to the Stars for 20 games, and retired. They retired his Number 7. A member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, but not the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He and his wife train horses back in Minnesota.

11 Jim Dowd, center, 46: The native of Brick in Ocean County is the only New Jersey native ever to play for the Devils, only the 2nd ever to make it to the NHL, and the only one with his name on the Stanley Cup. The Devils traded him to Vancouver in 1996, and he also played for the Islanders, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, Montreal, Chicago and Colorado, before returning to the Devils in the 2006-07 season, before closing his career a season later with the Philadelphia Flyers. He now coaches a traveling youth hockey team in Red Bank.

12 Bill Guerin, right wing, 44: Half-Irish and half-Nicaraguan, the native of Worcester, Massachusetts is believed to have been the 1st NHL player of Hispanic descent. (Later Devils hero-turned-traitor-turned-returning-hero Scott Gomez was the 1st Mexican-American in the NHL, but not the 1st Hispanic.) Traded in 1997 to the Oilers, getting 2000 Cup hero Jason Arnott in exchange, a lopsided trade that really favored the Devils.

Also played for his hometown Boston Bruins, the Stars, the Blues, the Sharks, the Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins, for whom he is now an assistant general manager. He closed his career in 2010 with 429 goals and 4 All-Star berths. He is not yet a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

14 Brian Rolston, center, 42: Stayed with the Devils until 1999, when he was sent to the Colorado Avalanche to get Claude Lemieux back. He played 50 games for the Avs, when they sent him to the Bruins to get defense legend Ray Bourque. In other words, twice in one season, he was traded for guys who would get his former team a Stanley Cup.

Played well for the Bruins, rejoined Lemaire with the Wild, then returned to he Devils, switching to Number 12, playing 3 more years, before finishing his career with the Isles and Bruins, retiring in 2012. Scored 342 NHL goals, and made the All-Star Team in 2007. Now coaches a club team in his native Michigan.

15 John MacLean, right wing, 50: The biggest hero of the Devils' 1st Playoff run in 1988, he missed the entire 1991-92 season due to injury. This loss of speed led him to change his style of play from sniper to defensive forward. This had previously worked for Steve Yzerman and the Wings, and it worked for Johnny Mac and the Devils. When Captain Stevens raised the Cup, the 1st guy he handed it to was MacLean, who then handed it to Bruce Driver, who handed it to Daneyko, the 3 guys who'd been there the longest, all since the 2nd season in New Jersey, 1983-84.

Traded to the Sharks early in the 1997-98 season, he played 3 seasons with the Rangers (but was never criticized by this for Devils fans, as he was already in decline) and 2 with the Stars before retiring in 2002. Scored 413 NHL goals. His 347 goals and 701 points were Devils team records, until they were both surpassed by Patrik Elias, who didn't arrive with the Devils until the 1995-96 season and thus missed the '95 Cup.

Began the 2010-11 season as Devils head coach, but got off to a disastrous start, and fired after just 33 games. Recently reunited with former Devils teammate Kirk Muller, as one of his assistants on the Carolina Hurricanes, but when Muller was fired, MacLean was, too. He is currently not employed in hockey. Many Devils fans have wanted to see Number 15 retired for him.

16 Bobby Holik, center, 44: The middle of the Crash Line, and the son of legendary Czech player Jan Holik, Bobby stayed with the Devils through the 2002 season, playing in the 1998 and 1999 All-Star Games and winning the 2000 Cup. His contract having run out, and Lamoriello having shown no inclination to sign him to a new one, he signed with the Rangers, earning the enmity of many Devils fans.

Despite being a European, and many NHL players playing in Europe during the 2004-05 lockout, he didn't play at all while it lasted. When it ended, he signed with the Atlanta Thrashers, becoming their captain. He returned to the Devils for the 2008-09 season, and retired, having scored 326 NHL goals, despite never reaching 30 for a single season (topping out at 29 with the '98 Devils). He and his family divide their time between Wyoming and Florida and, as a firearms enthusiast (not a "gun nut": He's never made wild statements about guns in public), a Czech gun manufacturer named him their "celebrity representative" in North America.

17 Tom Chorske, left wing, 48: Yet another member of the Montreal connection, having come to the Devils in the trade for Muller, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators shortly after the '95 Cup, and helped the reborn club reach the Playoffs for the 1st time in 1997. (The old one last did in 1930 before going out of business in 1934.) He also played for the Isles, Caps, Flames and Pens before retiring.

He returned to his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, finally got his degree, went into business in his native Twin Cities, and is now a broadcaster for UM hockey.

18 Sergei Brylin, center, 41: Aside from Brodeur, "Sarge" was the last remaining Devils player from all 3 Cup wins. From a Cup-winning rookie in 1995 to a cagey veteran in 2008, the Devils were the only NHL team for whom he suited up.

Having previously played for CSKA Moscow (that's pronounced "CHESS-kah," which is the former team of the Red Army, and they also have a rather successful soccer team), he returned to Russia to play for SKA St. Petersburg. Still living in New Jersey (Short Hills), he's back in the organization as an assistant coach at Albany.

19 Bobby Carpenter, center, 51: On its February 23, 1981 issue, Sports Illustrated made him the 1st-ever high school, and the 1st American-born, hockey player to grace their cover, calling him "THE CAN'T MISS KID." Did the thought of getting hit with "The Dreaded SI Cover Jinx" bother him? If so, the native of the Boston suburbs didn't show it, soon being drafted by the Caps, becoming the first U.S. high schooler to jump right to the NHL, and starring for them for 5 years, including a 53-goal season in 1985, before a clash with coach Bryan Murray led to him getting traded to the Rangers.

He played only half a season at Madison Square Garden, and bounced to the Kings and his hometown Bruins, reaching the Finals with them in 1990. After a brief return to Washington, he came to the Devils, and finally got his ring in 1995. He remained in New Jersey and a specialized defensive forward until 1999.

He now works in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. His daughter Alex played for the U.S. women's team in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and his 2 sons are playing high school hockey.

20 Danton Cole, left wing, 48: Sent to the Isles before the next season started, he was quickly dumped off to the Blackhawks, and then released after the season, never to play in the NHL again. After coaching in the minor leagues and the college ranks, he is now working with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

21 Randy McKay, right wing, 48: The right side of the Crash Line, he nearly dropped the Cup during the '95 celebrations. For reasons that I've since forgotten, there was some controversy involving him during the 2000 Playoffs; as a result, when the Devils won the Cup again, Stevens took his Captain's prerogative and decided who should get to hold up the Cup next, he chose McKay, rather than a more obvious choice such as Marty or Claudie.

Early the next season, in a game the Devils won 9-0, he and John Madden (still in college at the time of the '95 Cup) each scored 4 goals, the 1st time 2 teammates had scored 4 goals in the same game since 1922. He reached the Finals with the Devils again in 2001, and then late in the 2002 season, he and 2000 clinching hero Jason Arnott were traded to the Stars for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner. After another season, with his hometown Canadiens, McKay retired. He has returned to his alma mater, Michigan Tech, as a volunteer assistant coach.

22 Claude Lemieux, left wing, 49 (50 on July 16): Known as Claudie or Pepe (a play on the cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew, or "Pepe Lemieux"), his Playoff run in 1995, winning him the Conn Smythe Trophy, was one of the most amazing juxtapositions with a regular season ever: 6 regular-season goals, 13 Playoff goals.

Despite this, the Devils immediately sent him to the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-way deal with the Islanders, in which the Devils got Islander winger Steve Thomas and the Isles got Cole. This was an awful trade, as Thomas was a liability, while Claudie helped the Avs win the 1996 Cup, viciously clobbering Detroit's Kris Draper in the Western Conference Finals and earning the eternal enmity of Michiganders. This win made him one of the few players to win Stanley Cups with 3 different teams, as he'd also won with the 1986 Montreal Canadiens.

The Devils brought him back in 2000, and helped them win another Cup, his 4th. But they didn't keep him around after this Cup, either, and he played for the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars, and played the 2003-04 season in Switzerland before retiring. He made a comeback with the Sharks in 2009, age 43, but it didn't last. He is now a pundit on the hockey broadcasts of TSN, Canada's equivalent of ESPN.

While not related to Mario Lemieux, his brother Jocelyn played several years in the NHL, and his son Brendan is now in the Buffalo Sabres' minor-league system.

23 Bruce Driver, defenseman, 53: One of the 3 grizzled veterans, along with MacLean and Daneyko, who stuck around long enough to finally hoist the Cup for New Jersey, he never played for the Devils again. His contract out, he signed with the Rangers, yet has never gotten the kind of flak for doing that which came to Holik and Scott Gomez (or MacLean, for that matter, but then, MacLean wasn't a free agent and didn't exactly have the choice).

After 3 years at The Garden, he retired. Still living in New Jersey (Montville), he coaches the girls' team at the Morristown-Beard prep school, and won the New Jersey girls' State high school championship in 2007.

24 David Emma, right wing, 46: Winner of the Hobey Baker Award (hockey's version of the Heisman Trophy) at Boston College in 1991, the Rhode Islander didn't pan out (like several Heisman winners). He played just 23 games for the Devils, and was not on the Playoff roster, having played 6 games all season. Played 5 games with the 1997 Bruins, and 6 for the 2001 Florida Panthers. Now a financial adviser, co-running Masterson Emma & Associates.

25 Valeri Zelepukin, left wing, 46: Suffered an eye injury in practice early in the 1995 season, had to change his playing style as a result, and was never as effective. (Zel was the guy who scored the goal with 7.7 seconds left to send Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals to overtime, before the Rangers won it in double overtime.)

Traded by the Devils to the Oilers midway through the 1998 season. Played with the Flyers and Blackhawks before going back to Russia in 2001, playing through a knee injury until 2006. He is now the head instructor at a Russian hockey school, and runs clinics in the U.S., including in New Jersey.

26 Jason Smith, defenseman, 41: Traded to the Maple Leafs in 1997, he later starred for the Edmonton Oilers, captaining them into the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. He also played for the Flyers and Senators, closing his career in 2009. He is now an assistant coach for the Senators.

27 Scott Niedermayer, defenseman, 41: The 5-time All-Star remained with the Devils through all 3 Stanley Cup wins, but Lou didn't lift a finger to keep him when his contract ran out during the lockout. He went to the Anaheim Ducks, joining his brother Rob, and in 2007 Scott captained them to the Stanley Cup, his 4th. He was also awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. Remained with them until retiring in 2010. Scored 172 goals, and his 568 assists is a big number for a defenseman.

He remained with the Ducks organization, and is now an assistant coach. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Devils retired his Number 27.

28 Kevin Dean, defenseman, 46: Remained with the Devils through the 1999 season. Played for the Thrashers, Stars and Blackhawks until 2001. Was head coach of the Trenton Devils from 2006 until they folded in 2011. I can find no record of what he's doing now, but he was at the recent 20th Anniversary reunion, so he may still be in the Devils' organization in some capacity.

29 Shawn Chambers, defenseman, 48: The 1995 Stanley Cup Finals was not the Detroit area native's first, although he'd probably hope you'll forget that: He made it with the North Stars in 1991, and got embarrassed by Mario Lemieux on a goal. He also played for the Lightning before coming to the Devils, and scored twice in the Game 4 clincher.

Traded to the Stars in 1997, he played on their 1999 Cup team, but was gone by the time they faced the Devils in the 2000 Finals, retiring 4 games into the season. Now back in Minnesota, coaching a high school team.

30 Martin Brodeur, goaltender, 43: Became, arguably, the greatest goalie of all time, setting career records for games played, minutes played, saves, wins and shutouts. After a brief sojourn with the Blues, finally retired this season, and has joined the Blues' front office, putting his West Orange house on the market. Will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018, and will almost certainly be the next Devils player to get his uniform number retired.

31 Chris Terreri, goaltender, 50: Lou's goalie at Providence College, the native of Warwick, Rhode Island tended to start whenever the Devils played in Boston. PLayed just 4 games of the 1995-96 season before being traded to the Sharks. Also played for the Blackhawks before returning to the Devils in 1998. before closing with the Islanders in 2001.

Went into coaching, including with the Devils' farm team, the Albany River Rats. Played 1 game as an emergency goalie for them in 2006, allowing 4 goals in 40 minutes. Was the Devils' goaltending coach the last few seasons, and has survived the recent management/coaching shakeup to keep the post under John Hynes.

33 Reid Simpson, left wing, 46: Came from Bobby Clarke's hometown of Flin Flon, Manitoba, but didn't have nearly the same impact. Stayed with the Devils until early in the 1997-98 season, then became a rent-an-enforcer for the Blackhawks, Lightning, Blues, Canadiens, Predators and Penguins, last playing in the NHL in 2004. Made a comeback in Russia and another with the Chicago Wolves in 2010 before hanging up his skates for good. Now coaches a junior hockey team in Indiana.

44 Stephane Richer, right wing, 50: Not to be confused with a defenseman with the same name, born just a few weeks earlier, who played 3 years in the NHL. He and Claude Lemieux, both on the 1986 Canadiens, were the only members of the '95 Devils to have already won a Cup. Remains the last player to have scored 50 goals in a season for the Canadiens. Scored the 1st Devils goal in the game against the Rangers in the Seinfeld episode "The Face-Painter."

Returned to the Canadiens after 1 more season, then played for the Lightning, Blues and Penguins, before coming back to the Devils for 10 more games in 2002. Has appeared on the Canadian TV show Battle of the Blades (hockey players in an ice dance competition with figure skaters), and is an advocate for those who, like himself, have dealt with clinical depression.

Mike Emrick, play-by-play announcer, 68: "Doc" isn't just a nickname: He has a doctorate, a Ph.D. in communications from Ohio's Bowling Green State University. Announced for the Devils from 1983 to 1986, and again from 1993 to 2011.

Having also broadcast nationally for Fox (including on Clinch Night in 1995) and now NBC, received the Foster Hewitt Award, the Hockey Hall of Fame's induction for broadcasters, and was the 1st broadcaster to receive the Lester Patrick Trophy, a lifetime achievement award for contributions to American hockey culture.

Brendan Byrne Arena, home ice, 34: Renamed the Continental Airlines Arena in 1996 and the Izod Center in 2007, the Meadowlands arena lost both of its tenants to the Prudential Center in Newark: The Devils in 2007, and the Nets in 2010, before the Nets abandoned New Jersey completely to move to Brooklyn in 2012.

This past winter, the arena was closed, its concert and other show operations moved to the Prudential. Although it still stands 20 years to the night after it hosted the Devils' 1st Cup win, don't expect it to still be standing on the 25th Anniversary.

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