I still remember the day that trade was done and how excited we were. The papers were all making references to Happy Gilmour the next day after the trade was done.
After years of seeing the Rags get star player after star player, it really felt like the Devils have finally become a big player. I know with the cup in 95 we arrived, but I remember my brother and his friends teasing me about how the Devils won it with a bunch of nobodies (wouldn't that make the accomplishment even more amazing then?). With Gilmour, now we had a big name to put up there and shove in their faces.
I did also feel at the time that Gilmour was only going to be short-term. Did anyone else feel that way too? I really don't think any Devils fan figured he would be here for the rest of his career or anything long-term.
As much as I admire Nieuwendyk as a player, I still get the impression after all this time that he never wanted to be here. He still put on his best face though so I have to give him credit for that.
The whole Gilmour thing was strange...first, from what I remember, Andreychuk and Gilmour didn't play together nearly as much as I was expecting them to...they were terrific together in Toronto, as many will recall. It was almost as if Lemaire was having an "Airplane!" moment, and was saying "That's just what they'll be EXPECTING us to do!"
What was clearly a bit sad was that it became obvious that Gilmour was clearly on the decline once he came to the Devils...had he shown more in his brief time here, I think Lou would've tried to bring him back, but once the Blackhawks overpaid for him it was pretty much a no-brainer for Lou to let him go...I was bummed when Gilmour left, but that's because I was seeing Gilmour as the 127-point monster he had been as a Maple Leaf, and not what he truly was as a Devil.
One guy who CLEARLY did not want to be here was Broten...from all accounts, he did not like anything about New Jersey, and was even more bitter when Lou basically told him (before letting him go) that he thought Broten's attitude sucked.