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1995-96 New Jersey Devils- What happened?

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09-15-2016, 08:35 PM
  #1
ChrisK97
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1995-96 New Jersey Devils- What happened?

The 1996 Devils were the only defending Stanley Cup champion (and one of only 6 overall) to miss the playoffs the next year between 1971-2006.

What makes this perplexing is that they had a decent record (a winning record too) of 37-33-12.

On the surface, it would be easy to say that the Andreychuk/Housley trade deadline moves backfired or that they struggled on offensively, but...

1. Other than Housley leaving and trading for Gilmour, this was essentially the same team that finished with the East's best record the following year (4 out of the next 5 years in addition, and the one year they didn't, NJD won the Cup).

As for the goal scoring, they only scored 16 more goals the following season (231 from 216), so it wasn't a huge offensive boost from one year to the next (and Andreychuk was their #3 goal scorer in 1997 with 27 RED LIGHTS).

It stands out also because it was the only time between 1990-2010 that the Devils failed to make the playoffs for two decades.

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09-15-2016, 09:30 PM
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The Panther
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It's symbolic, you see. 1995-96 was the final high-scoring season -- after the 1995 mini-season Dead-Puck onset, which the Devils dominated -- so 1995-96 needed the Devils to be eliminated from playoff contention.

But seriously, they just peaked at the right time in 1995 (i.e., spring). Their regular season records in 1995 and in 1996 are similarly mediocre overall, and their 1994 and 1997 records are better.

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09-15-2016, 10:06 PM
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I never wanted Claude traded in the first place.

The regular season finale that year (blowout loss to Ottawa at home) was the most embarrassing game I've been to in person. It was one of the most embarrassing regular season losses in Devils history, considering what was at stake that day and that Ottawa had 17 wins that season coming into the game. The Devils win that day, they make the playoffs. Ottawa still had fewer than half as many wins as the Devils had that season.

Obviously, it shouldn't have had to come down to that last game of the season. But the last game of the regular season and you can't beat by far the team with the worst record in the league?

Not to mention a castaway from the 95 cup team (Tom Chorske) scoring 2 goals that day for Ottawa.

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09-16-2016, 08:57 AM
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tony d
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I remember that, got to think trading Claude lemieux contributed to that. Still it was an outlier season as they where pretty good for the rest of the decade and won a Cup again in 2000.

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09-16-2016, 02:52 PM
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They were 12th overall in the league, and finished with more points than 5 Western teams that made it in. Probably the last season where the East is the clearly better conference overal. But the next two years they lost in the first round, so it's not that much of a blip really.

Their season was discussed recently here: http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh....php?t=2065133

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09-16-2016, 03:19 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Honestly, they just seemed kind of mediocre at the time. Their '95 playoff run kind of came out of nowhere, from a team with a very similar record. The following season felt like they just came back down to earth after a hot streak.

One thing that changed, IIRC, was that their division got a whole lot tougher. The Rangers had already been good for a while, Philadelphia was on the ascent, Florida was in their one-off Finals season, Washington was gradually getting better as they entered the Bondra years, and even Tampa was starting to figure it out and emerge as a solid playoff team. I think the ground kind of shifted around the Devils, who were stuck in neutral while everyone else got better.

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09-16-2016, 04:14 PM
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As mentioned, the East was oddly deep that year and the Devils missed with an 86 point season. This was from before I had Center Ice, but just some assorted thoughts:

- Little bit of a weird mix of veterans on the decline and young guys not quite ready for prime time. We kinda saw this with Philadelphia in 2007. MacLean/Richer/Broten had rough seasons and Rolston/Sykora gradually taking over their roles (and would be more prominent going into the future). Bruce Driver left via free agency and was essentially replaced by a young Jason Smith.

- Shorter offseason - Due to the lockout, the '95 Finals wrapped up on June 24th. In normal years, the season will wrap up in early-mid June. 2-3 weeks might not seem like a big difference, but a lot of the veterans had down seasons.

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09-18-2016, 02:48 AM
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Big Phil
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It is really hard to believe because for the better part of two decades the West has been superior over the East but 1996 was a year that the West was weak. Yes, Colorado won the Cup that year and Detroit had their big year but only Chicago also had a record above .500 in the entire conference. Post 1996 there was a bit of a shift to the West and we've been there much of the time since.

Not so in 1996 though. There was Eastern dominance since 1990. All Cups came from that side (even before it was re-named East/West).

That being said, the Devils were only 4 games above .500 even in 1995. Shortened season sure, but still, not even one of the elite teams in the regular season that year. So 1996 didn't change anything.

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09-18-2016, 02:24 PM
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vadim sharifijanov
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
Honestly, they just seemed kind of mediocre at the time. Their '95 playoff run kind of came out of nowhere,
i don't know about that. the devils definitely came out of nowhere in '94 to make it within an OT goal of the final after switching out muller and burke, who were the key pieces of the old '87 core. but i think after that run, you can't really say that '95 was that much of a surprise.

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09-18-2016, 06:58 PM
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agentblack
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
i don't know about that. the devils definitely came out of nowhere in '94 to make it within an OT goal of the final after switching out muller and burke, who were the key pieces of the old '87 core. but i think after that run, you can't really say that '95 was that much of a surprise.
Yeah that 94 Devs team was unusual

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09-19-2016, 03:45 AM
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tarheelhockey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
i don't know about that. the devils definitely came out of nowhere in '94 to make it within an OT goal of the final after switching out muller and burke, who were the key pieces of the old '87 core. but i think after that run, you can't really say that '95 was that much of a surprise.
I mean in the context of the year that followed the '94 run. I don't think too many people had money on the Devils winning it all that season. They seemed like an OK middle of the pack team until they went on a tear in the playoffs.

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