New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings are no longer contenders for the Stanley Cup, meaning we all miss those old times. 

Kyle McKenna

It was expensive and difficult to buy a ticket for a New Jersey Devils game when the Detroit Red Wings were in town 10 or 20 years ago.

All-time greats took to the ice for decades at a time between New Jersey and Detroit. Hockey Hall of Famers such as Scott Stevens and Steve Yzerman, just naming two of many, laced up the skates and played the game the way it was always meant to be played.

Keep in mind that Detroit didn’t always visit the Devils, or only did once a season at most when the Red Wings were in the Western Conference. Yes, it’s still weird seeing Hockeytown in the Eastern Conference.

Tickets for Thursday night’s contest between the former Stanley Cup dynasties are selling for $7 via StubHub. One beer at the Rock is more expensive than entry prices for a game that entails an Original Six club.

How the times have changed for these two teams.

After decades of consistency and success for the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils, the views for both fan bases are much different.

We’re not talking about the view and fancier concourses at the new arenas for each team either.

Hockey’s faithful no longer pay for the view that fans witnessed at the old Brendan Byrne Arena back on June 24, 1995, when the Devils swept Detroit for their first-ever Stanley Cup championship. The same view that fans watched at Continental Airlines Arena years after, and for a handful of seasons at New Jersey’s latest arena, Prudential Center—it’s never been the same at the Rock, though.

Detroit clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 25-straight seasons from 1991 until the end of 2016. The Red Wings haven’t been close to a playoff contender and far from the four Stanley Cup championships Hockeytown earned during that historic run.

New Jersey is comparable, if not worse.

After four Stanley Cup Final appearances from 1995 until 2003, the Devils have returned the promised land once back in 2011-12. Let’s not forget that Lou Lamoriello’s “boring” Devils clinched a berth in the playoffs all but twice from 1990 until 2010.

Jersey’s team has clinched a playoff berth twice since 2010-11.

Circa 2019 and both teams are bidding for the NHL’s No. 1 overall selection at this year’s draft in Montreal, instead of a ring. If the Devils were to win the lottery again, it marks the third time in four years they’ve bared the honor. Prior to selecting Nico Hischier with the No. 1 overall-pick in 2017, a first-overall selection never fell into the hands of Jersey.

The Red Wings are also on a path of compiling high draft picks. Now, general manager, Yzerman’s Red Wings have their best opportunity at selecting the first pick in the draft since 1986.

For decades these two classic teams finished at the top of the standings and rose banners to their respective arenas season after season. For gamers out there, the clubs also entailed the highest ratings in video games across all systems, yes, even GameCube.

After the 1995 Stanley Cup Final, it was expected that the two teams and core players they entailed would without a doubt face-off again in a Cup Final.

While Detroit and New Jersey experienced success, fans are still waiting for a rematch.

Perhaps that’s on the horizon after these organizations compete for piling up first overall selections and high draft picks.

Or at least that’s the hope for both cites. The ticket prices were more expensive in 1995 and into the 2000s, but it was undoubtedly worth the view.

Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.