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01-14-2013, 09:24 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Originally Posted by
The Devils were an eyelash away from the finals in 1994. It had nothing to do with the refs putting their whistles away...they were a good hockey team. Lou pulled off a couple of solid moves at the deadline to put NJ over the top. Shawn Chambers + Neal Broten
Not only were they an OT away from the Cup finals (where they would have been favorites), the Devils were the 2nd best team in the league in the 1993-94 regular season. They started the 1994-95 season in a slump. The main reason is because Scott Stevens was still sulking because the Devils matched the offer sheet the St. Louis Blue signed him to in the 1994 offseason. Remember that in 1990, St. Louis had made Scott Stevens one of the highest paid players in the league and named him their captain. He was planning on settling down in St. Louis and had a house built there. Then, in 1991 he was awarded to the Devils by an arbitrator as compensation for signing Brendan Shanahan as a RFA. In 1994, Stevens signed an offersheet to return to St. Louis (there was tampering involved), and NJ matched.
Stevens (who was by far the best player on the 1993-94 Devils) started 1994-95 in a major slump. It got to the point where Claude Lemieux called him out for being selfish and a poor captain. Jacques Lemaire told him to stop trying to create offense and focus only on defense. Eventually, Stevens got himself together and the "real Devils" showed themselves towards the end of the regular season. IMO, the only reason the 1994-95 Devils were a 5th seed is because it was a 48 game season and one extended slump to start the season left them with less time than usual to recover.
You touched on the secondary reason they weren't as good in the regular season - they had a gaping hole at #1 C until the trade deadline. After 1993-94, the Devils let their top center, Bernie Nicholls leave via free agency. They went into 1994-95 with Corey Millen as their #1 center and rookies Brian Rolston, Sergei Brylin, and Jim Dowd fighting it out for #2. (Their checking line and energy line centers, old Bob Carpenter and young Bobby Holik were set). At the trade deadline, they traded Millen for vet Neil Broten, and while Broten wasn't a star, he was at least an adequate option at #1 C. Rolston eventually settled in at wing, and Brylin and Dowd split second line duties throught to the end of the playoffs.
Getting Shawn Chambers at the deadline helped too, of course, as he played out of his mind in the playoffs, often as Scott Stevens' partner.
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