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Elias chases a lofty mark of his own

by Shawn P. Roarke
NEWARK, N.J. -- Goalie Martin Brodeur isn't the only Devil looking to wear a new crown when Tuesday night's game against Chicago is complete.

Brodeur's chase of immorality -- specifically besting the mark of 551 wins he shares with Patrick Roy -- has been well-documented. The coverage reached a crescendo Saturday night in Montreal -- Brodeur's hometown -- when Brodeur tied the record in a win against the Canadiens, with Roy in attendance.

But Elias scored the game-opening goal in that 3-1 victory and added an assist on the game-winner to give him 701 points as a Devil, moving him into a dead heat for the franchise record for career points, presently held by New Jersey assistant coach John MacLean.

On any other night, such an accomplishment would have been the lead to most stories. But Saturday night, it remained in the shadows of the glare cast by the enormous spotlight on Brodeur.

Elias' accomplishments didn't go unnoticed by teammates, however, including the one soaking up all the accolades Saturday night.

"It's definitely too bad everything was toward me because of that game in Montreal," Brodeur said after Monday's practice. "But definitely, he deserves everything that he is getting."

Since joining the Devils for good at the start of the 1997-98 season, Elias has been one of the organization's primary point producers. In 2000-01, he scored a career high 96 points to lead New Jersey as it fell a game short of defending the Stanley Cup championship won a year earlier in Dallas.

This season, Elias has 73 points in 68 games and could challenge his career-high total set back in 2000-01.

"The difference between both things is that one is a franchise situation and the other thing is history, a League thing," says Brent Sutter, the Devils coach. "That's the difference between the two, but Patty's accomplishment is pretty phenomenal in itself.

"Obviously, it says something about the career that Johnny Mac had here and I think that goes unnoticed a little bit. Mac had a pretty outstanding career here with the Devils. For Patty to be here where he is now says something about the accomplishments Patty has had to date. That, in itself, is pretty neat."

While Elias would love to be in the limelight by himself, he understands the reasons he is not. Sutter's explanation hits all the right notes as far as Elias is concerned.

In fact, he refused to play along when it was suggested that he wait to score his next point until after Brodeur gets his next win in order to have the spotlight all to himself.

"I'd like to do it next game," he said, matter-of-factly. "The sooner, the better. I just want to keep it going and play the way I have been and have fun. We are playing well as a team and hopefully it happens next game, obviously."

And, what will it mean if it does happen Tuesday night against Chicago, if he does notch point No. 702 of his career?

"It means that you are doing something right and you have been here long enough," Elias told "It would be special no question about it. But, hopefully, I have many, many more (points) in front of me."

And, for him, it is about the team success. Individual success comes from that team framework, as Brodeur can readily attest. Elias had opportunities to leave the Devils -- especially when his contract was up a few years ago -- but he decided to stay. Mainly, he says, because the Devils gave him the opportunities to do the thing he most cherishes in hockey.

"I never saw myself kind of leaving," Elias said. "I had a few years ago, different options. But, for a couple of reasons, I stayed here. One of them was to have a chance to win. Since I have been on this team, I have never missed the playoffs and that means a lot. You always have a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup and that is what it is all about."
"I'd like to do it next game. The sooner, the better. I just want to keep it going and play the way I have been and have fun. We are playing well as a team and hopefully it happens next game, obviously." -- Devils winger Patrik Elias
Nobody else is even close to Elias and MacLean in the points department. Kirk Muller, now retired, sits third on the list with 520. Defenseman Scott Niedermayer, now in Anaheim, is next with 476.

Teammate Bobby Holik, in his second stint with New Jersey, is the closet active player with 471 points, 230 off Elias' pace despite playing just 29 fewer games in a New Jersey sweater.

MacLean set his mark in 934 games, while Elias has played just 813 and counting.

Holik joked that it is not surprising that he and Elias sit one-two on the active scoring list because they hail from the same part of the Czech Republic.

"I knew he had a work ethic because he comes not from the same town, but very much the same area, as I come from," Holik told "That is our biggest strength -- work ethic. That is what he has always had and it helped him evolve and mature and it's all good. The work ethic, the desire -- that is what keeps him going."

Fellow forward Brian Rolston would throw talent into the mix, as well. Rolston played with Elias from 1998 to 2002. This summer, rejoined the franchise and is blown away by the skill Elias possesses.

"He's ultra-talented," Rolston told "He's as talented as anybody in the League as far as I am concerned. I think one of the things that sets him apart is he is very strong. He's a strong guy and that's a testament to longevity. You have to work hard to stay in this League and produce like he does."

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