SI.com 2003 NHL Playoffs 2003 NHL Playoffs


Have Cup, will travel

All the Devils need now is a parade route to show off trophy

Posted: Tuesday June 10, 2003 12:13 PM
Updated: Tuesday June 10, 2003 4:59 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Just 12 hours after the New Jersey Devils captured the NHL championship, a receptionist had amended her greeting.

"Home of the Stanley Cup champions," she said Tuesday.

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The phrase is being used for the third time in nine seasons.

Still undecided, however, is where and when fans will get to celebrate with the players.

"As soon as we know something, we'll make an announcement," team spokesman Mike Levine said.

Parties for the 1995 and 2000 victories were held in the sprawling parking lot outside the building in East Rutherford that houses the Devils' home ice, now known as the Continental Airlines Arena.

Complicating planning this year is that the other tenants of the arena, the New Jersey Nets, are in the finals for the NBA championship. They trail the San Antonio spurs 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday night at the arena.

If they Nets win the title, it would be the first time championships were won by NHL and NBA teams that share a venue.

Their landlord, Meadowlands sports complex operator New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The parking lot celebrations in 2000 and 1995 were derided by some as lowbrow, but then-Gov. Christie Whitman -- a hockey fan who attended both -- defended the practice.

"This kind of celebration is more interactive for the fans. It's better than the fans standing around to see the team for 10 seconds," she said in 2000.

Three years ago, about 40,000 fans convened for a tailgate-style gathering after the Dallas Stars were defeated for the cup. Many drank beer while youngsters played roller hockey.

They cheered as the cup was carried around amid fireworks and ticker tape, but showered then-Gov. Christie Whitman with boos. Highlights of the team's championship season played on two giant TV screens.

The 1995 rally attracted about 25,000 fans, many waving brooms to symbolize a 4-0 sweep of the Detroit Red Wings.

The fans also implored the Devils to remain in New Jersey, as the team was threatening to move to Nashville.

The Devils and Nets are now part of the YankeeNets conglomerate, which has been trying for several years to reach a deal to construct a new arena in downtown in Newark.

Newark offered to have a parade for the Devils in 2000, as did Bayonne and West Orange.

A message seeking comment from the Newark mayor's office was not immediately returned Tuesday.


 
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