By Michael Hill
Stuart Becker remembers it like it was yesterday.
“Oh, it was like mayhem. It was incredible,” he said.
Incredible because the New Jersey Devils were underdogs against the top-scoring Detroit Red Wings but swept the Red Wings to win their first of three Stanley Cups.
“No big superstars on the team. Gelled together as a team. Worked together. Cohesive and pulled off a miracle,” Becker said.
For those reasons and more Becker had to come back for the 20th anniversary celebration at the Prudential Center.
So did many of the players who dressed up in home and away uniforms for a 45-minute game.
Fan favorite Martin Brodeur played forward and even scored a goal.
For the final period, he was back in net and gave up five goals — the most he’s ever given up in a period.
“Makes the people happy. It’s all right. Why I only wanted to play one period,” Brodeur said.
Fans enjoyed a blitz of goals — 16 in all — some by Claude Lemieux, some by Scott Niedermayer and some great defensive plays as well. A game without any checking, fights or penalties, so can you really call it a hockey game?
“Need an oxygen tank,” said Ken Daneyko.
Daneyko played his entire career with the Devils, winning three Stanley Cups. He’s now the Devils’ TV analyst. Like the fans, he’s proud of the fact that the ’95 Devils became — and still are — the only major league sports team to win a championship with “New Jersey” on their uniforms.
“I know in ’95 it meant everything to us, you know, we’re proud of that. We’re New Jersey,” he said.
The coaches described that ’95 team as a family of unselfish players.
“We were all pretty close. You know as you look back on the team and you can look at the lineup, everybody had a place on that team and we were better than everybody thought,” said John MacLean.
“Nobody had the will to win like this group,” Daneyko said.
This celebration all about reliving that championship season of ’95.
“Before then we were known as a Mickey Mouse team and they put us on the map,” said Eleanor Tobec.
When asked to pinpoint one memory that season, Allison Kass said, “Scott Stevens came through the parking lot with the Stanley Cup and we got to touch it that night.”
But Kass concedes she was so nervous about the Devils’ improbable ’95 run to the championship, that it’s still a little hard to believe.
“Probably not till horn went off in Game 4 that I knew we were going to win. And every time I watch the tape I’m afraid that we won’t win,” she said.
Fast forward 20 years, and the team that stunned the sports world relives the miracle.