First, a little bit about the man.
A lifelong Jersey native, McMullen would graduate from Montclair High School in 1936,
and from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1940. He then would rise in the ranks of the Navy.
When he retired after 15 years of service his rank was of Commander.
He then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to earn a Master of Science
in naval architecture and marine engineering, and would later earn a Ph.D in mechanical
engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
He would start putting that and his naval experience to use when he founded John J.
McMullen & Associates in the late 50s. (The dates I've read have varied. That's why I
don't name a year.) The company would become known of its innovations in ship
design, both commercial and naval.
Over the years, he would also either acquire other companies close to the shipbuilding
industry or branch out into other endeavors like being named Commissioner of the
NY/NJ Port Authority and taking a chair on the Naval Academy's Board of Visitors.
In 1974, the endeavors would expand into the sports world, when he purchased a
minority share of the New York Yankees. As Dr. McMullen would put it, ''There is
nothing quite so limited as being a limited partner of George Steinbrenner's."
He would step down as Yankees shareholder, but by the end of the decade, he would
purchase his own baseball team when he bought the Houston Astros. He would own
them until 1992.
But NOW the reason we're here...
Jack Vickers and Arthur Imperatore had bought the Colorado Rockies on seperate
occasions (In 1978 and 1980, respectively) with the hopes of moving the team to New
Jersey. Both men's proposals fell through, as the arena being built at the Meadowlands
was not completed, and there was no suitable-to-NHL-standards temporary facility for
the team to use.
So Dr. McMullen bought the Rockies in 1982, and, with the Brendan Byrne Arena
finally being completed and housing the NBA's New Jersey Nets by that time, his
proposal for the relocation of the Rockies was approved.
Ever since the Devils came into existence, Dr. McMullen had been about growing
hockey in the state of New Jersey, particularly in the amateur ranks. Thus, in 1984, the
John J. McMullen Award was established, presented by the Devils to "an individual(s)
who have supported amateur hockey throughout the state."
Dr. McMullen had also been about doing everything first class for his organization,
treating all his employees, especially the players, as equals, even going above and
beyond by taking a young player into his home. (citing Ken Daneyko here)
After the Devils won the Cup in 2000, Dr. McMullen would sell the team, ironically to
Steinbrenner and YankeeNets, who was headed up by Ray Chambers.
Dr. McMullen would pass away September 18, 2005. The team would pay tribute to
him that season by the players wearing a patch with his initials (below) on the front right
Other honors have included the Naval Academy naming their ice area after him, and the
Devils making him the first inductee of their Ring of Honor in 2017.