The Devils feel like they're finally coming out of their rebuild

The Devils feel like they're finally coming out of their rebuild


NEWARK | Damon Severson has 621 NHL games, but only four playoff games. The Devils' second-round pick in 2012, the Saskatchewan native has always played in New Jersey. 

Severson, who made his debut with the Devils in 2014-15, is one of the good speakers to describe the long stages of a reconstruction.

In his first eight seasons in the NHL, he only appeared in the playoffs once. It was the spring of 2018. The Tampa Bay Lightning had won easily in five games in the first round of the playoffs against the Devils. Severson had worn his team's uniform for four of the five games.

“I've been in New Jersey for a long time and I lived through the dark years,” Severson said a few hours before the match against the Canadiens at the Prudential Center. There were seasons when it was very long. I sometimes had the feeling that we were not moving forward. But there was still growth. Today, we are reaping the rewards. But we still haven't won anything, we're just talking about a good season.”

Two big centers

In New Jersey, there is hope that the lean years are over. With Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Dougie Hamilton and an experienced coach in Lindy Ruff, the Devils are now among the good teams in the NHL.

“There's a different vibe,” Severson said. When you arrive at the arena, there is life and more fans in the stands. People from Jersey are starting to come to us again and there are even little celebrities coming around. It's a classic, but fans want to see a winning team. The feeling is much better.”

Severson looked towards the draft to explain the rebirth of this franchise.

“We were lucky in winning the lottery twice for the first choice. We drafted Nico and Jack. They ended up changing the image of our franchise, but it took them a few seasons to establish themselves as big stars in our league. You build your team with good crosses. We have two very good ones. But there are also other good hopes.”

The famous process

Captain of the Devils since the 2020 season -2021, Hischier has also had more failures than triumphs since joining the NHL. The top of the class in the 2017 draft only appeared in five playoff games during his 2017-2018 rookie season.

“It was not pleasant, we were low in the standings in the last seasons. But we kept believing in it, we had to go through the process. I have always believed in the potential of this team. This year is proof that we are on the right path.”

“I feel that the other teams now respect our speed and the way we play,” added winger Dawson Mercer. I'm only in my second season, but I think we've made a big leap this season in our development as a team. »

If Martin St-Louis is not a lover of comparisons, the Devils can still remain a model for the Canadian. Before dreaming of happier days, the CH will still go through long seasons on this long road to reconstruction.

Asked about the Devils, St-Louis offered this reply where patience remained an element key.

“It didn't happen overnight for the Devils,” he recalled. There was no magic pill to transform this team. It's a process.”