By Dave Turner
I’ll start off by saying that the first thing I tell anyone who isn’t a Devils fan, or anyone who likes hockey in general is that I am so proud of being a Devils fan because of the quality of the fans. We’re a small group, but we’re knowledgeable, friendly and support this team so well.
All of the sellouts this year speak volumes to how far this team has come in terms of support. Recently, as the team has struggled and is now in jeopardy of missing the playoffs, we have seen the other side of some fans rear it’s ugly head.
The biggest thing to consider in all of this is that everyone is entitled to an opinion, I understand that. Whether you want to be someone who still believes that without a doubt this team will make it, or someone who is convinced all is lost, that’s fine, but conduct yourself with class, be a positive reflection of your team.
I’ve seen fans who jump down the throats of anyone who doubts this team. I understand that many like to protect the team they love, but it’s time to get real. Not only do people have the ability to doubt the Devils during their current losing streak, but let’s be a realist.
BEING A REALIST DOESN’T MAKE YOU A BAD FAN. BEING A TROLL, EITHER WAY, DOES.
Right now this team is struggling, we get that. They’re on the outside looking in and it’ll take a major turnaround to make the playoffs. They’ve struggled to score, and the defense hasn’t been as good as it needs to be.
Adversely, they have played some tough games that they could have won. They’ve lost some shootouts and even fought valiantly last night against the Bruins. Four points would make a world of difference right now. That’s it. It’s not like this team is 15 points out and has looked dreadful.
The point is, lets acknowledge that though this team does have talent and they are still VERY alive in the playoff hunt mathematically, with eight to go, it will take a turnaround to get there.
There’s as little sense to be blindly faithful that this team will make the playoffs as it is to completely write them off right now.
I have to give a shoutout to Philippe Gendron who runs the “Real NJ Devils Fan Group” on facebook. If you haven’t joined it, I suggest you do. Philippe has a policy that anyone who joins his group takes a positive look, or at least doesn’t make a fool of themselves by posting profanity-laced rants after every loss.
What good does it do to scream and curse out this team? I understand you’re frustrated, but let’s stay classy and let’s continue to root for our team.
On the flip side, I see people who have a freakout any time anyone says anything disparaging about the team. It’s okay to have opinions. It’s okay as long as you’re not going out trying to just be a complete troll, to point out things this team is struggling with and needs to do better. Think that a certain player needs to sit? Fine! Think that a guy like Urbom should be up at this point? That’s fine too.
A friend of mine told me that he has a run in with a fan at the Bruins game, who freaked out that he was getting upset at the game and voicing his opinion from the stands. Who wouldn’t have been upset when they were down 4-0? Come on! The point is, the person who took offense to this, like others who have taken the same route, need to understand that people are going to be upset, don’t be ignorant and act like nothing is wrong.
Likewise, the people who are frustrated with this team have good reason, it’s not like their play lately has given anyone anything all that positive to talk about.
I understand that a lot of fans are upset, and they don’t want to hear things that point to the fact that this team might not make the playoffs, but it’s time to be a realist. Being a blind follower doesn’t make you a better fan, it makes you ignorant.
We’ve been spoiled as Devils fans. Since the first Stanley Cup win, they’ve missed the playoffs just twice. In 1996, which was a “gravy” year, and then again in 2011, which didn’t feel all that bad because they had that run that made the season a lot of fun.
It’s a foreign thing for Devils fans to not have playoff hockey, but it happens. It’s a short season and it’s hard to dig out of a hole. Who’s to say that this team won’t make some moves and be right back in contention next year? They have a lot of cap room and with the likes of Jon Merrill and Reid Boucher waiting in the wings, the future is promising.
The other issue, is that everyone needs to take the blinders off in regards to this team at this point. This is not a very good hockey club, but this is also NOT a terrible team. Five points would have them in 6th place right now.
Basically, it boils down to this. Lets be supportive of each other. Seeing Devils fans fight is the worst possible thing. We all bleed for this team and the only way to make this situation worse is to have a situation where Devils fans can’t even talk to each other because there are too many arguments.
Whatever happens, I urge everyone to treat your fellow fans with class. Want to pick a fight? Do it with Flyers or Rangers fans, if you must. Don’t throw fellow Devils fans under the bus. There is nothing good about fighting with people who support the same team as you.
Continue to be the best fanbase in the NHL; the group of passionate and dedicated fans that follow every moment of the Red and Black.
Playoffs or not, support your team, but voice your opinion good or bad, in a way that doesn’t make you, or other Devils fans look bad.
I know that we can stay together as a community even in the wake of what is a very trying season.