A Stanley Cup will define your career. Over 11 years in the NHL, Tom Chorske played nearly 600 games for seven teams, scoring 115 goals and assisting on 122 more, but nearly every conversation he has about his playing days goes back to 1995 in New Jersey.
“People that know me really only comment on me being a Devil and being part of that ’95 cup,” Chorkse said.
It’s been 20 years since Chorske’s Devils won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, but time hasn’t dulled the memories. Chorske, a Minnesota native, fondly recalls a locker room celebration with loved ones, including his parents, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins, and, after a long night, watching the sun rise the next day in Verona, NJ.
Although he now spends his days in sales and business development in the Twin Cities, the former winger is still involved with hockey. In addition to serving on the Minnesota Mr. Hockey selection committee —having been the inaugural winner in 1985— Chorske serves as an analyst in pre and post-game coverage for the Minnesota Wild and the Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey teams.
Chorske leans on memories from the 1994-95 season for perspective that helps with his analysis of the game today. “The way [winning the Cup] really changed me, was understanding what it takes to win a championship,” he said, adding, “It’s still as hard as ever to win the Stanley Cup.”
According to Chorske, the lack of obstruction that is permitted now is a lot different than when he played and overall rule changes have significantly sped the game up.
“We were able to play all four lines, which not a lot of teams can do,” he said. “I think we’d still be effective that way because we had the right mix of offensive capabilities and a commitment to defense. And we had an incredible goaltender.”
While there may be some degree of apples to oranges in the comparison, at the end of the day it’s still hockey. “I like to think I still could have skated with the pace of play as it is now,” he said.
Chorske and his Devils teammates also look back fondly on the championship because they were the first in the now-20-year tradition of players getting a personal day with the Cup and being able to share it with the fans. Chorske used his time to visit Minnesota ice arenas, sports radio stations, restaurants and friends’ houses, before a party for the guest of honor – Lord Stanley’s Cup.
“Lots of people got to experience it, see it and get a picture with it,” Chorske remembers. “I still routinely see people that remember that day.”