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How Seinfeld had the Devils over the Rangers

The story behind the famous 'The Face Painter' Episode

by Stan Fischler / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Hard as it may be to believe, the Devils-Rangers rivalry actually drifted over to the realm of a world-famous sitcom, Seinfield.

As Tim Sullivan pointed out in his "Battle of the Hudson," NBC and famed sitcom writer Larry David - "Curb Your Enthusiasm" - combined on the hit series to introduce a hockey theme.

It was called "The Face Painter," the 109th episode of one of TV's most famous comedies.

Directed by Andy Ackerman, this Seinfeld segment was about an ultra-passionate Devils fan who would paint his face before going to New Jersey games.

In the show, the fan's name is David Puddy, the boyfriend of Elaine Benes. New Jersey native Patrick Warburton from Paterson was the real-live actor who played Puddy.

When the episode aired on May 11, 1995, Puddy had taken Benes to a Devils-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. 

Interviewed by Sullivan, Warburton, a veteran actor, explained that his Devils character was very special to him.

Warburton: "In the realm of half-hour television that I've done over two decades, it is clearly one of the most memorable, most rewarding episodes that I have ever done.

"It was just so much fun to be that fan, to be that character on the show. That was the second episode of Seinfeld that I had done, and after it, people recognized me as if I was a regular. The Devils and Rangers have been with me, I suppose, my entire career."

Sullivan added: "The show ends at another Devils-Rangers game, for which, after Elaine said Puddy couldn't paint his face anymore, he paints his chest instead."

What's fascinating, as a sideline, is what the Devils organization did to make "The Face Painter" work.

"The franchise did everything first-class," Warburton concluded. "As for the rivalry, it's something that both New Jersey and New York fans get a kick out of and I do, too.

"I'd get requests all the time from fans all over. To have a small part in that as I did was not a bad thing."

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