Background Music: My Hero by Foo Fighters
The year 1987 was a rough one for a particular 10-year old boy. He
had struggled with school, had a first experience with a death of a
loved one, and went through a personality change that wasn't always
looked at favorably by his classmates, which would effect him some
later on in life.

There was one change that restored some balance in an otherwise
crazy time.

The boy was bored in class, as was the case most of the time. He
never caused trouble, and did okay in a few of his subjects, but the
schoolwork didn't particularly interest him, either. He often delved into
his teacher's newspaper, sometimes reading the sports section. That's
where he first learned about the NHL. He would look at the standings,
read the box scores, the paragraph summaries of the games. He didn't
understand a whole lot about it, though, obviously. He was just
learning stuff like "this team plays here, this one plays there," and so
on.

So one day during one of those times where he should have been
doing his work, he decided to go to the bookcase behind his teacher's
desk. He saw a bunch of those Encyclopedia Americana yearbooks
that they used to print. His parents had the same set at home. (The
point to that statement comes later.) So he took the earliest one out:
the 1956 book, and turned to the sports pages, looked through the
hockey section. "1955 Stanley Cup Champions: Detroit Red Wings."
Among other things he saw there.

As part of one of his everyday assignments (the teacher called it
penmanship), he was to illustrate the copy of the Shel Silverstein
poem of the day that he was given to practice his writing with. He
could put anything on it, so long as he did. And that's when he decided
to use the hockey info towards this.

Being that the next book was the '57 one, he would quickly learn
about the Montreal Canadiens and their dominance. He poked fun at it
a few times. "Somebody's gotta beat 'em." Ultimately, he grew to
respect that team.

Between that and reading the books at home, as well as the newspaper
following the Stanley Cup playoffs, by the time the fifth grade was
over, he knew enough about the game to become interested and want
to become a fan.

Which would become the case in the sixth grade the following fall. It
was also the time where his father upgraded the cable package.

First, the boy would try watching the New York Rangers. They were
okay... but they didn't do anything for him.

He turned to the New York Islanders. Not a bad team back then,
either... like the Rangers, though, did nothing for him.

There was also the Hartford Whalers back then, but he didn't have the
means to see them on a regular basis, really. The cable company
didn't carry a whole lot of Connecticut stations. The ones they did
carry were network affiliate stations. So although he didn't mind
watching them, either, he never got into them.

But there was something about that one team with that strange
monogram logo. He asked his brother about it one time. "Who's that?"
"The New Jersey Devils."

An interesting logo, for sure. The team itself: at the time perennial
losers, really, but he saw a bunch of what could be described as
lunchpail kids just looking for respect. And this was before he knew
about Wayne Gretzky's Mickey Mouse statement.

By that Halloween, for a school party, he wanted to dress up as a
hockey player. He had his father make up a makeshift hockey stick
out of rolled up cardboard, while he took a white T-shirt and some
markers and made it as best he could from memory from the pictures
he saw into a Devils jersey. He put the number 11 on the back
because it was one of his favorite numbers. He didn't even know who
Brendan Shanahan, the player who wore the number at the time, was
yet. It was just a semi-random thing.

One time at a nearby Ames, he saw one of those Panini sticker books
for the previous NHL season. He had his mother buy that for him. It
helped him put names to faces and learn more about the game.

At the time, the best player the Devils had was Kirk Muller, and that's
who would become the boy's favorite player. As he started watching
games on TV, he would have something concrete as far as why:
excellent offensive player, as tough as he was talented, excellent leader.

Of course, that season was the first time ever that the Devils made the
playoffs, thanks to John MacLean scoring in overtime in Chicago. He
was more than thrilled. It was like Christmas all over again for him.
He was loving watching their playoff run and was looking forward to
the Devils winning the Cup that year. So yeah, he was disappointed
when the Bruins left them one game short of the finals.

But at the time, the boy was looking forward to more, looking forward
to better things.
Erik Carlson
Webmaster and would be either a Center or a Goalie if I played
Right-Handed Shot (Can shoot left, too, because I'd be a leftie
catcher in goal)
Height: 6' 4", Weight: 300 pounds (at least)
Born: 6.10.76 in Carmel, New York
resides in Wingdale, New York
The Dark Side Of The
Tenth Wonder
This is how I became a Devils fan.
I would like to give thanks to the fine folks over at the NHL Arena,
both members and staff, for providing me with the inspiration to build
this site. It had been a long time since I last felt this passionate about
the game and the Devils. Really, it had been a long time since I've
had friends that were that way, too, Devils fans or not.
You're already here!