Four numbers are in the rafters in the Prudential Center. The question we tackle today is, “Which other New Jersey Devils should join them?”
Having one’s number retired is an honor organizations save for players who have gone above and beyond in service of the team. While there is no written criteria for having your number retired, championships and fan favorites play a factor.
The first player brought to question is Sergei Brylin.
The man they called “Sarge,” Brylin was a member of all three Stanley Cup teams. He was best suited alongside Jay Pandolfo, with John Madden centering the two. Currently, he is an assistant coach in Albany, so Brylin is still with the organization. Brylin was a defensive specialist, who could skate with the best of them. That said, the aforementioned line of Madden, Pandolfo, and himself effectively shut down top lines of other teams.
Is he worthy of having his number retired? Brylin was well like among Devils fans. He is only one of four players to be on all three Stanley Cup Champion Devils teams. The others already have their numbers retired. Will Sergei Brylin have his number 18 retired? Yes.
The next player is most likely to have their number retired next season, and his name is Patrik Elias, one of the greatest Devils of all time. With over 1,000 points and two championships under his belt, the hall of fame isn’t that far behind. “Patty” is one of the most beloved Devils to ever wear the red and black/green. While he is the all-time points leader for Devils players, he is also loved by the fans.
His hockey future is currently up in the air, whenever he does decide to hang up the skates, the Devils will take care of him. Either a job behind the bench or a front office job awaits Elias. You know what else awaits him? A spot in the rafters among his former teammates is something that’s definitely in his future.
Not necessarily a player, but there was a time when Mike “Doc” Emrick was exclusive to Devils hockey. For 20+ seasons, Devils fans got to hear Doc call 82 games per season. Doc and Chico were part of what made Devils hockey feel special for the fans. Doc now calls national games exclusively, which the Devils rarely get. Nonetheless, he was as popular among Devils fans as any player was.
Rarely, teams will go out of their way to honor announcers and even coaches for teams. The Blues have honored broadcaster Dan Kelly with his own banner in the rafters. The Islanders have done the same with Al Arbour, who coached the team to four straight Stanley Cups. Should Emrick be honor by the Devils? Without question.
There are a few other honorable mentions. They include Claude Lemieux, Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora. All have won at least one Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Arnott and Sykora were apart of the infamous A-Line that dominated along with the aforementioned Elias. Lemieux has a Conn Smythe under his belt as well.
All in all, Elias, Brylin and Emrick are, without a shadow of a doubt, all worthy candidates.