Colorado, Detroit and New Jersey
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06-29-2012, 05:09 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
new jersey quietly stockpiled two generations of very good players, mostly through the draft.
through the 80s, they got muller (became stephane richer), verbeek (became claude lemieux), maclean, driver, daneyko, sean burke (became holik), and shanahan (became stevens, of course). most of them were high draft picks, few of them were heralded as legitimate stars. but that young team broke through in the '88 playoffs before falling off again, not unlike detroit the same year.
then another crop in the 90s, starting with brodeur (technically guerin in '89, who became arnott), then niedermayer, rolston (became claude lemieux's second tour), up to elias and sykora, and eventually gomez and gionta, the devils stockpiled another very good core.
two things about that: 1. '95 was the perfect storm where that first generation was in its prime/still going strong and key members of the second generation had already stepped in and were playing at a high level. this is the kind of luck that, say, the canucks didn't have; if naslund and bertuzzi had held on for a bit longer, or if the sedins had developed a bit faster...
neither the '88 wings or devils could win until a second generation came in while the core of the '88 was still dominant. this is why the avs fell off after roy retired; the young talent dried up between hejduk/tanguay and stastny/duchene, while detroit those batards had a friggin' third generation with datsyuk, zetterberg, etc.
2. other than shanahan and niedermayer, none of those picks were can't-miss stars. but most of new jersey's picks at least met, and usually exceeded, expectations. so those devils teams may not have had the high end of detroit or colorado, but they were DEEP. and more importantly, they were deep with homegrown talent. in that second generation, i've said nothing about brylin, madden, pandolfo, rafalski, colin white, etc. etc., but those guys fit the system and the team had a true identity.
i haven't agreed with a lot of things he's done since his last cup, but lou lamoriello was by far the greatest GM in the era between the gretzky trade and the second lockout. he built a team and an organization that was just brilliantly self-sustaining and quietly was a juggernaut.
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