Charity game provides backdrop for '95 reunion
NEWARK, N.J. -- The goal of Saturday's Global Legends charity game at Prudential Center was to raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief. With hundreds of fans bidding on autographed memorabilia and getting a chance to meet the 38 former players who made up the Russian and North American squads participating in the game, the exhibition raised more than $50,000 for that cause.
But for 10 players participating in the charity game, it also provided a fun reunion that was long overdue.
It wasn't an accident that more than half of the players making up the North American Legends roster were members of the New Jersey Devils team that won the Stanley Cup in 1995. That Cup Final sweep of the Detroit Red Wings linked the group forever in the annals of hockey history. So much so that Sergei Brylin, who was born in Moscow and started his pro career with the fabled CSKA Moscow club, laced up with his former Devils teammates on the North America team.
"I wanted to collaborate with many '95 guys, as long as they're skating. To see Randy McKay and Bobby Carpenter, [Stephane] Richer, [Claude] Lemieux … you have a bond for life with those guys," said Ken Daneyko, who helped organize the event and assemble the North American roster. "We get in that dressing room and it's like we haven't missed a beat."
The 1995 Cup win was a landmark victory for the franchise, which would again win it all in 2000 and 2003. But for a number of players on that championship squad, most notably Daneyko, McKay, Bruce Driver and Chris Terreri, it was the culmination of years of building up a franchise that hadn't won much since moving to New Jersey in 1982.
For the members of that first championship team in attendance, Saturday marked the first time they'd seen their former Devils teammates in years.
"I could go down the list of guys I haven't seen in a while. I really enjoyed it," said Carpenter, who on Saturday played on a line with Lemieux and McKay. "Our lives are so fast with our kids that we say we'll get together and never do. Then when events like this come about, you make a point to be there."
The charity game provided a rare opportunity for members of the 1994-95 Devils team to catch up. But for Carpenter and Lemieux, it also provided a chance to discuss their sons, both of whom are hot young hockey prospects. Lemieux's son, Brendan, committed to the University of North Dakota last year before eventually opting to play junior hockey with the Barrie Colts, while Carpenter's son, Bob, is currently being recruited by colleges.
When the Global Legends game ended with the Russian squad earning a 7-6 victory, the 10 members of that Devils’ championship team enjoyed an afternoon of reminiscing at the Prudential Center. For Terreri, it was a special chance to host some old friends.
"It was great. You get right in there and it's like you never left the locker room," said Terreri, who currently works as the Devils' goaltending coach. "You wish you were in a little bit better shape, but that's not what it's about. You go out there and have fun."