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Devils Through the Decades: Second Heaven (Part 2)

In part two, Devils superfan Jerri Rettig looks at the third and fourth rounds of the team's 2000 Stanley Cup run

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Our road to the 2000 Cup continues in part 2 of my article. For those of you who didn't catch part 1, it can be accessed right here and for those of you who read the last page of a book first (as some do), continue on.

Part 1 left us on the New Jersey Turnpike headed for Philly and the Eastern Conference Finals. 

The Philly series was a true faceoff between the two top teams in the Eastern Conference. Philly finished #1 and the Devils #2. This series was the most trying seven games of hockey I have ever experienced (along with the vast majority of Devils fans). There are no words that can express or do justice to this legendary series and the amount of nervous tension that accompanied it. It is said that this is one of, if not the greatest comeback in Conference Final history. 

Increasing the intensity was the overwhelmingly hostile rivalry that had escalated over the years between the players and fans. As if this wasn't bad enough, my favorite antagonistic commentator (Barry Melrose) was all over the Devils throughout the entire series. When the Flyers won, they were playing "great hockey." When the Devils won, it was because Philly had a soft game and NOT because the Devils played well. So much for objective reporting. 

We took game 1 convincingly 4-1 and then the turbulent tides turned (drastically). We lost the next three games, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead in the series, the Devils on their heels and facing elimination. This prompted Larry Robinson's fabled and infamous locker room tirade when he kicked the garbage can, probably saving our season and ultimately earned us the Cup. 

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Devils Through the Decades: Second Heaven (Part 1)

Longtime Devils fan Jerri Rettig looks back on the Devils 2000 Stanley Cup Championship

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

After winning the Cup in 1995 (barring the blip in 95-96), the Devils proved that they belonged among the elite, finishing first in 96-97, 97-98, 98-99 and second in 99-2000. The fans (and you could put me at the top of the list) were hungry for another trip to the Finals and all of the hoopla that goes along with it (hoopla will be better defined as we progress). Unfortunately, we fell short and were knocked out in the early rounds through those seasons leading up to 1999-2000.  

During the course of that season, our core defense from '95 continued their brilliance at the blue line coupled with the dazzling goaltending of Martin Brodeur which was reflected by the fact that 14 of our 16 wins in our run to the Cup were decided by one goal. 

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Devils Through the Decades: 1995 Quest for the Cup (part 2)

Devils superfan Jerri Rettig reflects on the team's first Stanley Cup. Presented by Choose New Jersey

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

From the moment we were knocked out in 1994, I could only think about one thing - next season. I was champing at the bit and anxiously counting the days until opening night. I wanted to rid myself of that crestfallen feeling and imagined picking up right where we left off. 

When the season finally started (due to the lockout), we went 0-3-1 in the first four games - however, by the end of the season the Devils were playing their best hockey (or so we thought) and went 10-5-2 in the last 17. 

A few days later, we opened up round 1 against the Bruins and the fantastical ride to our first cup was underway! As spectacular as it was while it was happening, looking back now, the way we did it was nothing short of magnificent. We went 16-4 through the post season and 10-1 on the road (using all of my best adjectives) - just remarkable! Our defense was bar none, every player contributed/played a crucial role and came up big when we needed it (i.e. Dowd, Chambers, Broten, etc.), the inspired play by Lemieux, Richer, Brodeur and "The Crash Line" - it all came together.  

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Devils Through the Decades: 1995 Quest for the Cup (part 1)

Devils superfan Jerri Rettig reflects on the team's first Stanley Cup. Presented by Choose New Jersey

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

There is nothing like playoff hockey - NOTHING! Plain and simple, the Stanley Cup is the most coveted trophy in sports and the most difficult to attain. Some players (great ones) never get the chance to hoist it and a good majority of loyal and diehard fans never get the opportunity to experience it. 

As a fan who has been privileged to have had the luxury (several times), I feel compelled to discuss the criticality of playoff game day superstitions - we all do it in some way, shape or form however, a good number of you may not be as blatant with them and/or open to sharing as I am (could very possibly be a mistake on my end). 

In 1994 and in the first round against Buffalo, we lost our first home game while I was wearing Devils attire. As a result, I switched it up for game 2. My new outfit was black stirrup pants, black boots, black tank top and a leopard print blouse (don't judge - it was 26 years ago and I believed it was stylish). When we won, I felt that this was the lucky outfit and my playoff uniform for the remainder of that series as well as the following two. I would take it off after each game, spray it with perfume and hang it on my balcony for proper airing. You know as well as I do, that there was no way to wash or clean the outfit and maintain the luck. 

In addition to the outfit, I developed/adopted a "power play pose" (where I sat on my leg throughout the PP). I still utilize this and it has now extended to all power plays - regular season as well as playoffs. 

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Devils Through the Decades - Part 3

From New Jersey to Philly to Texas to Spain… we are all Devils inside

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Now that I have shared my journey through the various stages of Devils fandom (in my first article), it's your turn. A number of you responded (with how you became Devils fans) and I am happy to pass on some of your stories. As noted by the title of this article, you don't need to be in and/or from New Jersey to be a Devil inside.

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Devils Through the Decades - Part 2 (Tom McVie)

Long time Devils fan Jerri Rettig talks about stories involving former Devils head coach Tom McVie

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

For those of you who read my first article - Devils Through the Decades, Part 1 (and those of you who didn't), I recounted how I became a Devils fan and that 1991-92 was my inaugural season as a full-season ticket holder. I also mentioned that in a future article (this one), I would share a very special experience that I feel privileged to have had that first year - an experience that helped propel me to the "diehard" fan that I am today. It was a time in my life and memories I will cherish forever! 

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Devils Through the Decades - Part 1

My Journey from a Casual/Passive Fan (at best) to a Diehard

by Jerri Rettig / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Jerri Rettig is a die-hard Devils fan who's been a season ticket member for almost 30 years. Once a month, she will recount stories of her adventures of fandom over the years.

Hard to believe that I've been in the stands for three full decades. To be exact, 31 years now and this season marks year 29 as a full season ticket holder. Every fan has their version of why and how they got there - this is mine. 

In 1987-88, I was as far from a hockey fan as one could be. I had no interest or understanding of the game. Towards the end of the season, I noticed people around the office talking about the Devils. After Johnny Mac's forever-acclaimed OT goal against Chicago that drove them into the playoffs for the first time, the Devils were the talk of the town! Wanting to be in the know and take part in the buzz, I became a "bandwagoner." I caught a few games, read the sports page every morning, took part in the conversations and felt like a real fan for the playoff run. 

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