After 105 regular season and playoff contests, staying rested is a challenge for the New Jersey Devils. Their coach, Pete DeBoer decided that it was a bad idea to hold a practice Monday morning after the team flew cross-country for Game 6 in Los Angeles.
So instead most of the Devils went on walks, because if there’s one thing they don’t want to do all day, it’s lay around.
“We have a lot of those guys,” DeBoer said. “Lou (Lamoriello) reminds me on a daily basis. I’ll come off the ice, tell the guys to get off and he’ll give me a call telling me there’s still 15 guys out there 15 minutes later. So, you have to go back and get them off.
“They love to play. I don’t think you get to this point of the year unless your best players genuinely love to play. You’re not playing at this point of the year for money or for anything else. It’s because you love to play and you grew up wanting to win a Stanley Cup. When your best players have that desire, you have success and part of that is they don’t want to come off the ice, they don’t want to leave the rink. You have to push them out, push them off.”
What the Devils have done so far is certainly a testament to their strength of character as a group. It would have been easy for them to give up after going down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup finals. At that point, no one expected them to overcome the odds and their season would have still been called a success in the grand scheme of things, but they didn’t want to give up.
Of course, the Los Angeles Kings can claim the same kind of drive, especially given their status as a team that had to claw their way into the playoffs in the first place. These squads are both worthy of the Stanley Cup, but only one will get it.