Looking back at the 2000 Stanley Cup
|Arnott raises the Cup in 2000.|
By 2000, Jersey’s Team had geared up for another run and went on to beat Dallas for their second ring in six years. Patrik Elias would assist on one of the biggest goals in Devils’ history with his backhand pass to set up Jason Arnott’s winning tally at 8:20 of double overtime in Game 6.
The 2000 team, which included current Devils Jay Pandolfo and Colin White, was to be honored in a ceremony before Tuesday’s matchup with the visiting Stars.
“When you go to the conference final your first year, then you win the Stanley Cup (in ‘95), you’re like, ‘Wow, this is not too bad,’ early in your career,” Brodeur recalled. “But then it took a while. We had some great teams and couldn’t get back in the rhythm in the playoffs. So for me, winning again was a big deal, especially adding younger players, and having a different role on that Stanley Cup team compared to ‘95 when I was a young player.
“It was a really rewarding Stanley Cup, probably one of my favorites. It’s hard to say a favorite because winning is winning, but out of the three, we accomplished a lot changing coaches at the end of the year, coming back from a 3-1 deficit, going through those overtime games against Dallas. It felt like we earned that Cup.”
The 1999-2000 Devils went 45-24-8-5 to finish two points behind Philadelphia for second in the Atlantic Division. Larry Robinson took over for Robbie Ftorek behind the bench with eight games remaining in the regular season, and the move paid off. New Jersey breezed through the quarterfinals with a sweep of Florida, then bounced Toronto from the semis in six games.
But after winning Game 1 of the conference finals in Philadelphia, New Jersey dropped the next three to fall into a 3-1 series hole.
Victories in Game 5 and 6 brought the Devils to a deciding Game 7 at the First Union Center. Elias broke a 1-1 tie late in regulation, and New Jersey became the first team ever to win a best-of-seven conference final after trailing three games to one.
“It was just a little bit of a lucky bounce because Jason (Arnott) fanned on the shot; I think Alex Mogilny had given him the pass,” Elias explained. “It happened quickly, and I just snuck in behind, lifted Dan McGillis’ stick up and didn’t think – just shoveled it in the net. Then I saw it in slow motion, (the way) everything was happening. A huge goal obviously, and the most important goal in my career.”
The Devils had earned their second trip to the Finals. Standing in their way was a hungry Dallas team eager to defend its 1999 crown.
Jamie Langenbrunner, then a member of the Stars, was hoping to hoist the Cup for a second straight season. A knee injury limited him to one appearance in the 2000 Finals.
“Otherwise, (they’d) only have two Stanley Cups here,” Langenbrunner said wryly. “It was difficult playing all year and then being hurt in the Finals. I remember that it was a great series. We got blown out (7-3) in Game 1, but after that it was a good series with tight games and a couple of long overtime games. When you get to the Finals, you don’t really know a whole lot about the other team. We learned very quickly what a great team that was and a team that was tough to beat.”
Fueled by the “A Line” of Elias, Arnott and Petr Sykora, the Devils finished second to Detroit (278) with 251 goals in the regular season.
“When everybody says, ‘Oh you guys are always a defensive team,’ I say, ‘Go and look at the stats, how many goals we scored that year, and the talent we had,’” Elias said. “It’s OK. We always played well defensively, but really that year, if you ask any of the guys, that was probably the most talented team that we had.”
At center of that offense was Elias' trio, which accounted for four game-winners over the final two rounds of the 2000 postseason.
“It was just a lot of fun,” he said. “Every game we had a feeling we were going to have a lot of opportunities. We enjoyed each other’s company on the ice, off the ice, and it just showed in the good chemistry we had out there.”
The Devils jumped out to a 3-1 series lead on the defending champs. Mike Modano’s goal in triple-overtime of Game 5 ended the longest scoreless contest in Finals history, forcing a Game 6 back in Texas.
Tied 1-1 after 40 minutes at Reunion Arena, Arnott’s goal clinched a Devils triumph in double-OT. Elias skated into the right corner, dug out the puck for a centering feed to Arnott, who banged it past Ed Belfour to set off the celebration.
“I think that when you looked at it, it looked like Arny had the time, but when you watch it in slow motion, he just got it in there,” Elias said. “I don’t know if he got all of it. I don’t know if I got it through – I think it was (Derian) Hatcher – if I got it through his feet, his skates or if I just threaded the needle on that, but it worked out.”
Langenbrunner’s quest for back-to-back rings had stalled. But in 2002, he became a Devil following the deadline day trade that shipped Arnott and Randy McKay to Dallas for Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk.
“It was weird at first,” Langenbrunner said. “They had just taken something away from you. We were going for back-to-backs, and you kind of feel that it’s yours at that time. Obviously, not a lot of teams get the opportunity to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. It was weird coming in here. I got here at the deadline, that was a little tough, but things turned out well that next year.”