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6 NEW JERSEY Devils
Kostya Kennedy
October 08, 2001
If you're a fan who had no rooting interest in last year's finals, you probably delighted in the sight of 40-year-old Raymond Bourque at long last thrusting the Stanley Cup into the air. As his children wept with joy, the hockey world cheered and television cameras captured images that would be seen again and again in the coming weeks. On the other hand.... "I couldn't watch a single highlight, and 1 never will," says center Scott Gomez of the Devils, who lost to Bourque's Avalanche. "There's no pleasure in it. When I think about what we could have had, back-to-back Cups, I just get sick."
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October 08, 2001

6 New Jersey Devils

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Inside

CATEGORY

SI RANKING

SKINNY

FORWARDS

7

Deep group led by Arnott, Elias and Sykora

DEFENSE

6

Talented but aging; youngster Goc must help out

GOALTENDING

3

Brodeur's puckhandling a big asset for older D

SPECIAL TEAMS

7

PP should rock with Niedermayer. Rafalski on point

MANAGEMENT

5

Expect G.M. Lamoriello to be active in trade market

If you're a fan who had no rooting interest in last year's finals, you probably delighted in the sight of 40-year-old Raymond Bourque at long last thrusting the Stanley Cup into the air. As his children wept with joy, the hockey world cheered and television cameras captured images that would be seen again and again in the coming weeks. On the other hand.... "I couldn't watch a single highlight, and 1 never will," says center Scott Gomez of the Devils, who lost to Bourque's Avalanche. "There's no pleasure in it. When I think about what we could have had, back-to-back Cups, I just get sick."

As they neared the start of this season, many New Jersey players remained similarly stricken with thoughts of what might have been. They controlled long stretches of the finals and built a three-games-to-two lead before un-raveling in hisses at home (4-0) and in Colorado (3-1). "That Came 6 still eats at me," says coach Larry Robinson.

New Jersey rolled into last season's playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and swaggered into the Cup finals after pancaking the Penguins in five games. Though the team is largely intact, Robinson has been talking about "Father Time catching up," to several key players, including 37-year-old defensemen Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko and forwards Sergei Nemchinov, also 37, and Randy McKay, 34-Stevens and Daneyko will likely have their playing time trimmed this year as Robinson tries to phase Sascha Goc into the lineup.

New Jersey will have a harder time replacing swift right wing Alexander Mogilny, who scored 43 goals last year. Mogilny demonstrated surprising grit late in the playoffs, and in July he signed as a free agent with the Maple Leafs. Whether or not rookie wing Pierre Dagenais (34 goals for Albany in the AHL last year) helps make up for some of Mogilny's lost offense, the Devils need core scorers such as Patrik Elias (40 goals) and Petr Sykora (35) to at least match last season's career years.

New Jersey remains a serious title contender—despite their age, the defense-men are among the best in the East—yet no runner-up has rebounded to win the championship since the Oilers did it in 1984. That piece of history doesn't motivate the Devils as much as their desire to dull the memory of June. Says Gomez, "The only way to do mat is to win the Cup."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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