This Day In Devils History: 2000 Cup Banner Raiseddevils history October 6, 2012
On October 6, 2000 at Continental Airlines Arena, the Devils welcomed in Montreal for the first game of the franchise’s second season as defending champions, snagging a convincing 8-4 victory. The 2000-01 season would be decidedly more successful than the 1995-96 campaign, in as much as the Devils would actually make the playoffs that year. Not only did New Jersey make the playoffs in 2001, they lit up the league as one of its most exciting offensive teams before falling one game short of repeating as champions thanks to the Colorado Avalanche and the NHL media begging for Ray Bourque to win the Cup.
A season that ended in heartbreak in late June 2001, began in early October 2000 with the raising of the Stanley Cup Champions banner to the lofty rafters at the Meadowlands. While the night was about honoring the past season’s achievement and celebrating victory over Dallas, the flying elbows of Derian Hatcher and Nyquil-influenced goaltending of Ed Belfour, the two New Jersey players that scored both goals in Game 6’s 2-1 Cup-clinching win were conspicuously absent from the contest.
Scott Niedermayer and Jason Arnott were embroiled in contract holdouts to start the season, something that had become old hat for Niedermayer by 2000. In Game 6, Arnott slammed home the winning goal in double overtime on a slick pass cross-crease pass from Patrik Elias while Niedermayer staked the Devils to a 1-0 lead in the second period with an end-to-end rush that conjured up memories of his winning goal against Detroit in 1995’s Game 2 victory. The two contract holdouts lasted shorter than the current lockout, which the smart money says will be the season. Arnott returned to play 54 games, finishing with 21 goals and 55 points as part of the vaunted “A” Line with Elias and Petr Sykora while Niedermayer again registered a steady season with 35 points in 57 games. Arnott would spend just one more season with the Devils before being shipped to Dallas with Randy McKay for Jamie Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk; Niedermayer left following the 2004-05 lockout, acrimoniously splitting with the Devils and bolting to Anaheim.
Turns out, the Devils didn’t miss their stars too much on the 2000-01 season’s opening night, getting goals from seven different skaters, most notably goal-scoring machines Turner Stevenson and Colin White. Alexander Mogilny, who was about to embark on a monstrously productive season, spearheaded New Jersey’s attack with two goals and a helper while Sergei Brylin, Brian Rafalski, Sykora and John Madden all registered two points in the win. New Jersey received a goal from Bobby Holik along with assists from their Niedermayer replacements, Willie Mitchell and Ken Sutton. Steve Kelly, Sergei Nemchinov and Sykora all lit the lamp for the Devils; Scott Stevens and Sutton each registered a fight on the evening. All this offense resulted in the Devils chasing 1992 U.S. Olympic dynamo Jeff Hackett shortly into the second period, forcing the Habs to call in a young Matheiu Garon for relief duty.
Looking back at the names on this roster, it’s a shock, to say the least. The 2000-01 team, more than the 2000 team certainly put themselves in position to win the Cup all season, a season highlighted by several huge wins, including chasing young Dallas goalie Marty Turco from net in a Stanley Cup rematch and an epic shootout with Edmonton late in the regular season. (Shootout as in a fact-paced scoring contest, not a skills competition to decide the winner).
As for the YouTube ™ video linked above, you’ll at first notice the excitable tones of Doc Emrick as he walks Devils’ fans through the crowning moments of the 2000 playoffs. You’ll also notice the young, not-yet-tragic Scott Gomez accepting his Calder Trophy for the 1999-2000 season, rare clips of Sergei Nemchinov scoring a goal and Ken Daneyko accepting his Masterson Trophy.
New Jersey announced their Stanley Cup defense with authority, an authority that most of the Eastern Conference came to know well that season.