Cup Moments and Joyous Aftermath I SUNDAYS WITH STAN
The Devils completed a sweep of heavily-favored Detroit to capture their first-ever Stanley Cup title
Game 4 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Final appeared sealed and delivered to the New Jersey Devils late in the third period on June 24, 1995.
In a short time, it would become a day to remember in Garden State sports history.
Shawn Chambers' power-play goal made it 5-2 for the home team and now the more than 19,000 fans jammed into the large barn called Byrne Arena were on their feet cheering themselves hoarse.
In the Fox Network television booth, play-by-play broadcaster Mike (Doc) Emrick snatched a pen and sheet of paper. With the clock ticking away the game's final minutes, Doc had work to do.
"When Chambers scored to make it 5-2," Emrick recalled, "it was OK to celebrate, and I remembered words that the famed broadcaster Dick Enberg always said: "'The best ad libs are written down because you want to make sure that it comes out exactly that way. You don't want to leave it to whim.'"
With pen in hand, Emrick scribbled: "The championship to New Jersey, the Devils win The Stanley Cup." He then placed the message on his desk as the game's final minutes wore down.
In Matthew Blittner's book, Unforgettable NJ Devils- Games & Moments From The Press Box, Ice & Front Office, Emrick elaborated on his preparation for the final buzzer.
"The last thing I wanted to do was have a signature moment and all of a sudden it doesn't come out exactly the way I had intended. So that part was written out.
"It was apparent after the Chambers' goal that the Devils were going to win this thing and win it in a surprise sweep. And then, the thing that was the most striking of all was our cameraman getting a shot of Mike Peluso down at the Devils bench and he was crying."
The oversized New Jersey forward was shedding tears of joy.
Emrick: "He was so overwhelmed by the emotions of the moment, that he was openly crying. Here was a genuine moment where the whole shock of the situation was getting to him."
With a minute remaining in the Cup-clinching contest, arena public address announcer Bob Arsena announced that 60 seconds remained in the contest.
A thunderous cheer enveloped the building.
In his book, Battle of the Hudson, author Tim Sullivan captured the words of Devils radio play-by-play announcer Mike Miller as he detailed the final action on the ice:
"Cleared by Richer, thirteen seconds to go. Bouncing puck at the Detroit line. Ramsey will circle in his own end. Seven seconds to go. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. And one!
And the oldest trophy competed for in North America, Lord Stanley's Cup, has made its way through the Lincoln Tunnel! To The Meadowlands! To the Garden State! The New Jersey Devils are the 1995 Stanley Cup champions!"
On the other side, the Red Wings could not believe what had happened to them over four games, four losses. In a quiet moment, Bob Errey, a Detroit forward explained:
"We just couldn't play our up-tempo game and we weren't going to change. They stole a couple of the early games and really were able to capitalize on that momentum once they returned home."
Now the players were lined up for the traditional handshakes.
Emrick: "Even in the handshake line (Mike) Peluso was shaking his head back and forth; that massive, stringy, long hair of his, shaking at the same time as he was trying to shake back the tears as he was shaking hands with members of the Red Wings."
Now it was time for the formal presentation by Gary Bettman. Only in the Commissioner's chair since 1992, big league hockey's boss watched as the white-gloved Cup-handlers moved the silverware out on to the ice while the crowd roared its approval.
As the cheering stopped, Bettman took the microphone:
"The Devils amazing playoff run has taken the word 'teamwork' to a new level. Congratulations to the Devils. Scott Stevens...this is for you."
Additionally, Claude Lemieux received The Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs most valuable player. Claude's 13 goals in 20 playoff games earned him the MVP title.
But there were so many heroes - especially the late acquisitions, Neal Broten and Shawn Chambers.
"Neal Broten is one heck of a hockey player," said captain Scott Stevens. "I don't know if we could have won it without him."
Chambers remembered how teammate John MacLean reacted after Shawn tallied the game's fifth and last goal.
"Johnny hugged me," chuckled Chambers, "and then his eyes welled up with tears. He had been with the organization for so long and had suffered through so many tough seasons."
Tom Chorske: "The scene was surreal. I couldn't believe that I was part of doing it because I've watched so many great players before me do it and now I'm raising The Stanley Cup. It was like a delayed reaction. It didn't register right away. It was like an out of body experience. Like I was up in the stands watching myself as opposed to really doing it."
For Mister Devil - an original 1982 draftee - Ken Daneyko, it was the realization of his dreams as a kid growing up on Edmonton's frozen outdoor rinks.
"When Jacques Lemaire came on," Dano insisted, "we knew things were going to fall into place for us. So, we added pieces to the puzzle, starting with Marty Brodeur; then Scott Stevens and Scotty Niedermayer.
"From that base, we added pieces and eventually everything came together. It was amazing. What a feeling."
No Devil was more ecstatic than New Jersey-born and bred. Jim Dowd from the town of Brick. He grew up there, learned his hockey there and dreamed of playing for New Jersey's team.
Jim Dowd: "For me to win The Cup with New Jersey in New Jersey, was indescribable. To get drafted by the Devils and then be part of winning the Stanley Cup with them was one of the greatest moments in my life.
"And this after winning a state high school championship and a national championship at Lake Superior State, it was as if my life was complete. Words can't explain it."
But life was far from complete for the Devils high command. Owner Dr. John McMullen still had an offer from Nashville on his desk and a knock-down-drag out meeting with the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority just around the calendar.
Winning The Stanley Cup did not guarantee a new lease at Byrne Arena but it sure didn't hurt.