Revisiting Brendan Shanahan’s unique career with the New Jersey Devils, which additionally entailed some emptiness.
The New Jersey Devils entail a long list of hockey legends that once donned a red and black sweater.
What’s interesting is that some of these Hockey Hall of Famers and notable names that laced up the skates with Jersey’s team never won a Stanley Cup in a Devils uniform. Look no further than Phil Housley, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk, Jaromir Jagr, or even goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck.
But let’s not forget that Brendan Shanahan was also with the Devils for two different stints.
While most fans remember the Hockey Hall of Famer for winning three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, “Shanny” was actually drafted by the great Lou Lamoriello and the Devils.
New Jersey selected Shanahan with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. The forward wore the vintage red and green in New Jersey until after the 1990-91 campaign when he signed with the St. Louis Blues.
Given a unique arbitration situation, New Jersey was awarded defenseman Scott Stevens after the Blues stole Shanahan away. Talk about a story involving two future Hall of Famers that arguably couldn’t have worked out better for the Devils. But, not the poor Blues, who were the only members of the saga that didn’t win a Cup during the 1990s and early 2000s after all the drama.
Fans might wonder if Shanahan was still a stud on the ice while finding the back of the net during his first stint in New Jersey.
Simply speaking, he was.
New Jersey rookie Brendan Shanahan scored the first goal of his NHL career, in a 3-2 Devils' win over the Rangers, at New York. 11.10.87 #HFH pic.twitter.com/PwCzaAIXi9
— Hockey Fight History (@HistoryOfFights) November 10, 2019
Shanahan recorded 30 and 29 goals respectively during his final two seasons in Jersey prior to joining St. Louis. He was a top point-producer on the Devils and wasn’t shy about chipping in assists either.
After dressing for the Blues, Hartford Whalers, and Red Wings and winning three Cups in Hockeytown, Shanahan surprisingly dressed for another Original Six franchise.
The hockey great joined the New York Rangers for the 2006-07 campaign and lasted on Broadway until after the 2007-08 campaign. The former New Jersey draft pick stung Devils’ fans hearts in 2008 when he and another former Devil in Scott Gomez eliminated Jersey’s team in five games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On This Day in #NHL History: In 2006, #Rangers sign Brendan #Shanahan to a 1-yr, $4M deal; scored 62 points. pic.twitter.com/XWNqSrqoUi
— CoastToCoastHockey (@coastocoasthky) July 9, 2016
What might’ve been more surprising is that the Rangers opted not to bring Shanahan back during free agency in 2008. The legend signed with the Devils after the midway point of the 2008-09 regular season.
Keep in mind that the Devils set a franchise record that season by winning 51 games. Shanahan had one goal in mind: to win a Stanley Cup. But New Jersey also acquired the veteran to bolster the team’s power-play unit.
The 2002 Canadian Olympic Gold medalist wasted no time impacting New Jersey’s power play. He ultimately netted a goal on the man-advantage in his first game back with the Devils vs. the Nashville Predators in mid-January.
No. 18 dressed in 34 games that year while netting six goals and chipping in eight helpers for 14 total points. Shanny even recorded three points (one goal, two assists) during the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unfortunately, the Carolina Hurricanes eliminated the Devils in seven games.
Kinda like when the Canes won in overtime a few years ago when they scored with 2 seconds remaining in overtime or when they won a playoff game in 2009 vs the devils with .2 remaining https://t.co/vIFLPxwoao
— canes fan page ³⁰ (@thatcrazycaniac) March 28, 2020
It was certainly exciting for the team and fans when Shanahan returned. You almost wished there were more incentives and promotional material that circled around the veteran who gave one more shot at hoisting Lord Stanley with the team that originally drafted him.
Most fans can’t recall, but Shanahan planned on returning to the Devils for the following season. Nonetheless, he opted to officially retire after playing in preseason games that fall.
It seems that Shanahan’s tenure in Jersey could’ve been better and that much more special if he just won a single Cup in a Devils sweater.