NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey has always taken its share of grief, but it’s always been a kind of special place to me. For one thing, my late stepmother, Susan, grew up here and I have fond memories of visiting here in the late 1970s and early 1980s at her family home in Franklin Lakes.
They had a big color TV, and I’d never really seen one before until my first visit there. And, they had a lot of channels from the New York/NJ area, and I loved that. As an only child, TV was often my companion, even if there wasn’t a lot on, based on today’s standards. Most late nights were spent bathing in the bluish glow of 1970s analog TV, alone, but I loved it.
In 1995, I was in this state on my first official assignment as a full-time staff writer with the Denver Post. In June of ’95, I got the job as the Avs beat writer, and in those days, most all big newspaper hockey writers were sent to cover the Stanley Cup Finals (how quaint that sounds now, right?). So I got to cover the ’95 Finals between the Detroit Red Wings and the New Jersey Devils, and obviously that was a kind of life-altering thing.
When fans chanted, “Let’s go DE-Vils” tonight, I immediately flashed back to that 1995 series when I first heard its unique cadence. Post columnist Mark Kiszla, who also covered some of that series, and I still say that to each other when we see each other.
So, it was fun for me to be in the Garden State tonight – and for the next three nights too. That’s where my motel is, in Edison. New Jersey is very underrated as a state. Lots of great people and country here. One of my best friends in life, Jim Kane, lives here too. A very good friend, dating back to my days living in Concord, N.H., when he was a law student at Franklin Pierce College and I was a young guy living at home in my parents’ basement, working for $6 an hour as a proofreader at the Concord Monitor.
Shout out to Jim.
OK, enough about me. Some uncut audio from the room tonight in Newark, where the Avs beat the Devils 5-2.
First up, Matt Calvert on that controversial non-call late in the game, which had Devils fans irate (and the broadcasters too):