Despite Loss, Lots of Love for Devils
Hundreds greet team yesterday following heartbreaking Stanley Cup defeat in LA
They might not have won the Stanley Cup, but the New Jersey Devils still returned home to a hero's welcome yesterday, when they were greeted by several hundred fans who braved a steady rain at Prudential Center in Newark.
New Jersey’s only NHL franchise lost the sixth of the seven-game series Monday against the Los Angeles Kings after overcoming a three-game deficit, raising hopes among fans here in the Garden State of a comeback the likes of which had not been seen in generations.
But although it was not to be, plenty of Devils faithful were there nonetheless when the team bus arrived from Newark Liberty International Airport around 4:45 p.m. following a long flight home from the West Coast.
The bus streamed past a crowd of fans chanting “Let’s Go Devils” who came for an impromptu homecoming organized by Twitter and word of mouth. Players waved as they quickly made their way off the bus to their cars parked in an adjacent garage, then drove off, not before stopping to sign autographs and dispense a generous amount of high-fives.
“I’m not going to lie. I feel like we were robbed,” said Bethany DaSilva of Newark, who was at Prudential yesterday with her chihuahua, Mia, both dressed in Devils regalia.
Referring to the roller-coaster ride that was this year’s playoffs, DaSilva said, “I was really hoping to bring the Cup home.”
Devin Mattera, decked out in a vintage, green-trimmed jersey, traveled two and a half hours by train from his Long Island home to greet the team he has been following since childhood. Mattera, a bit of a family black sheep, is the son of a New York Islander fan and grandson of a New York Rangers fan.
“I’m bringing the next generation along [to the Devils],” he said.
The Devils fan base does include members of the latest generation, like Bohn Ench, 7, who was there yesterday with his mom Camille, five-year-old brother Luke and their aunt -- Camille’s twin sister -- Andrea Manna of Florham Park.
“I’m here to support the team. I want to see the Devils,” said Bohn, a Whippany resident, who also hopes for a rematch against the Kings next year.
Joan Genzel, a retired schoolteacher from Bayonne, has also only recently caught the Devils bug, becoming a fan after watching games at home this year with her daughter. Genzel, who celebrated her 74th birthday on June 2 at a Devils game, is now eagerly looking forward to next year.
“We have season tickets,” she said.