My brother and I are diehard Patriots fans. When we were kids, he never — and still doesn’t — wore his Patriots hat when the team won. But he’d always wear it after they lost. He taught me that anyone can support a team when they win, but only true fans support them when they lose.
Fans celebrate when their team wins the Stanley Cup. Some fans riot when their team loses. But how many fans endure cold rain and no sun in the late afternoon in a very dangerous city just to see a Stanley Cup-less team return?
New Jersey Devils fans.
They stood by the Prudential Center, huddled together against what little protection their small umbrellas offered them against the rain just to catch their Eastern Conference Champions come home.
“That was good,” Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk told reporters as he packed his gear up on Wednesday. “It’s [a] good feelings when you can see [that]. It was raining, the weather wasn’t great but people were waiting for us. It says a lot about our fans. Together we had a great year and hopefully next year it will be even better.”
There those fans were, clad in red and black. The fans who watched their team lose 6-1 to the Los Angeles Kings, ending their dream with a startling Inception-like kick back to the real world. These were the fans who witnessed Steve Bernier board Rob Scuderi for a five-minute major, an ejection and the three Kings power play talies that followed. In a few seconds, Bernier became very responsible for New Jersey’s Stanley Cup defeat.
Yet the fans still showed up.
“When I saw the fans cheering yesterday it helped,” Bernier told the Star-Ledger. “I’ll put it behind me. Little things people say to me make me feel better”
Steve Bernier. Playoff goat no doubt. His penalty erased any chances of New Jersey bringing the series back to Newark for Game 7 after falling down 3-0 to Los Angeles at the series start. This team couldn’t add banner No. 4 to the Prudential Center rafters. They couldn’t replicate the standard of excellence set before them by three Stanley Cup Champion teams, the remnants of which are almost gone.
But the fans still showed up to cheer the team that came 120 minutes close to bringing the Cup back to New Jersey, in the franchise’s 30th year, no less.
“I think the fans have been just tremendous here,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told reporters on Wednesday as the crew he spent years assembling dissipated. “I can remember being in the meadowlands in 2003 when I thought the roof was going to fall down so that just shows you what our fans what. They want us to win. And what’s wrong with that? That’s what we’re here for. They enjoy it and they feel good. They certainly felt good about the conference finals and certainly were tremendously supportive throughout the SCF and seem to have a good time. So it’s our responsibility to give them that environment.”
The fans were thankful to the Devils for getting this far. The Devils were thankful for the fans, hoping beating the Flyers and Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs is good enough for the people who waited in the rain.
“We weren’t able to get the Stanley Cup but I think our fans are happy we beat the Rangers…Hope they’re happy with that for now,” defenseman Bryce Salvador told the Star-Ledger as he packed up his locker for possibly the last time as a Devil. “