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Devils trip to Florida, my experience


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#61 Steven M.

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 04:25 PM

This is awesome, love to hear these personal experiences with the players and Devils staff (if that's the right word).

Although I will say, I'd be worried about Henrique snatching that girl of yours. Isn't this like..the 4th time he's picked her out of the crowd at some point?! :lol:

I'm just waiting for the thread "You won't believe what that bastard Henrique did.."


Haha that was my first thought upon reading your story too, mb. Awesome story though, some life long memories for sure. Glad most of the guys are as cool as we hope they are.
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#62 Neb00rs

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Posted 24 March 2014 - 05:43 PM

Scott Stevens is not a personable guy. Having met him though, in my personal opinion he is a good, honest guy who just doesn't have much to say nor does he enjoy conversation very much.


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#63 NJDfan1711

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:46 AM

I don't know if anyone will read, but I got some stuff to share about my trip to Tampa Bay;

 

Sorry if this is long, but it's some Devils stuff that's different than "we need to get to 92 pointS) for the 15th time.

 

First off; I love this team. This is probably the only team I know that can rip my heart out in such obscene fashion and I'm looking forward to the next game. We probably won't make the playoffs this year, but as soon as the season is over I'll be looking forward to next.  Anyway; here was my trip.

 

On friday, we drove to sunrise. I'm a student at the University of Miami, I had no classes Friday so my Devils-obsessed girlfriend (I'm too lucky) wanted to head up early to see if we could catch the team walking in. We didn't, but that was fine. The atmosphere in Sunrise was similar to a Devils pre-season game against the rangers. The jerseys were about a fifty-fifty split, but nobody truly seemed to care what was going on. We watched practice, Henrique winked at my girlfriend (sending her over the moon), and we got to our seats. We sat in row 3 above the goal-line that the Devils defend twice -- won't make that mistake again in Florida. If the puck wasn't in our end, we literally saw nothing. There were loud "Lets Go Devils" chants almost the entire time, all the way up to the (disappointing) EN goal. The stadium blows; but the worst part about it is leaving. We had a 4-hour drive to Tampa in front of us, and we had to sit in a single-lane road to leave the stadium for what lasted at least an hour. Brutal.

 

We stayed at the Marriott in Tampa, walking distance to the Forum, because we were told that was where most teams stayed. Well, we're eating breakfast, and who do I see? Chico, two tables down. I didn't want to interrupt his brunch, so after I see he and another man with his back turned get up, I walk over with my girlfriend and introduce ourselves. Who turns around next to chico? Bobby freakin Holik. Chico talks to us for.. oh, maybe 30 minutes. Where are we from, what we thought about the game, how my girlfriend got into hockey, how interesting that she's a Brazilian who's a diehard fan, etc. Holik starts jokingly flirting with her; she says that she's seen plenty of highlights from all of the old games we watched, and said how I have a poster of Holik in my basement. He says "I'm much more handsome now than I was back then", and Chico interrupts him and says "Oh, Bob, you were never handsome". It was incredible.

 

After lunch, we walked around the hotel, laid at the pool for a while and then walked over to the Forum in hopes to catch the team as they were walking in. Steve Cango sees us walking and asks if we need help finding something. He says that he doesn't know where the team is walking from or where they walk to, but leads us to someone who might now. He was a really friendly guy. A few minutes later, we see Chico walking across the street. He recognizes us and waves us over, couldn't be a more incredible person. He cracks a few jokes about Bobby flirting with my girlfriend, says how great of a guy Holik was and how he has a house down south. He then says, "no, the team is staying at the Westin across the bridge. If you walk over quickly, you might catch a few of them.".

 

So, we walk across the bridge, and we see a guy in a suit and blonde hair walking towards us. Without skipping a beat, my girlfriend yells "You playing tonight Jacob?!" He nods and signs her jersey. So we keep walking (half of the players walk from the hotel to the stadium, the other half take the bus) and who do we see? Travis Zajac. He seees two fans walking towards him, takes out his headphones and greets us with handshakes. Incredible, incredible guy. Seriously, he was talkative, nice, and signed her jersey. We walk over the bridge towards the hotel and see two suits walking towards us. She starts freaking out once she realizes it's Henrique (typically I'd be jealous, but, to be fair, I'd leave her for Henrique too). He and Fayne couldn't have been nicer; both were very serious and ready for the game but stopped to take photos with my girlfriend, even joked around together while posing for the picture and kept elbowing eachother, and both signed for us. Just in case we were going to be able to get autographs, my girlfriend (an architecture major so, naturally, awesome at photoshop) makes an 11x17 with Henrique celebrating the rangers goal with the caption "Henrique: It's Over!". They both spent five minutes looking at the photo, Fayne made fun of Kovy's face in it, Henrique joked about his beard, and we parted ways.

 

After that, we waited in front of the Westin with a larger group of fans for autographs. A solid 10 guys walked over to us and signed autos; I got to congratulate Rutuu on his baby and he seemed to appreciate it, Jagr signed for a solid 20 minutes, Ryder signed (he was dressed like he legitimately left a Vogue photoshoot). Everyone was awesome and waved and talked to fans except, oddly enough, Clowe. He kept his head down and walked to the bus, didn't acknowledge the fans telling him good luck or shouting positive things towards him. I get it if you don't want to sign, but it takes zero effort to wave. He even ignored the 9 year old waiting near the bus, just walked straight past her. Lost a little respect for him after that.

 

The game needs no discussion; though I must admit that the game-day production of the Lightning is the best I've ever seen. I've been to away games in philly, calgary, toronto, new york, florida, and tampa and by FAR the best game day experience was Tampa. If you're there before the doors open, you can scan your ticket and wait at this outdoor patio/bar area where you're already past security and just walk in when the doors open, to help eliminate queues outside. The jumbotron is MASSIVE, really beautiful with a really quality image. The guy who posted the "selfie" with Jagr was sitting two rows in front of me. Also, the fans were some of the nicest I've ever seen. We were decked in Devils gear, and after the game ALL I heard was "you got robbed on that first goal", "this is just payback for always owning us in the playoffs", etc etc. Also, they have this thing inside that shoots actual lightning. It's defeaning but holy crap is it cool. I was surprised at how packed the place was and how knowledgable the fans were; definitely not a Florida stereotype.

 

After the game, we walked back and got food at the hotel bar. I see Steve and Matt Laughlin and decide to walk up to introduce myself; they open up their "circle" and allow my girlfriend and I to drink and talk with them for a solid hour. Most of the people clear out, and the "circle" has now turned into myself, my girlfriend, some incredibly nice Devils fans, and this guy named Kevin. He hadn't introduced himself yet, and he says to me, "I haven't met you yet, by the way. I'm Kevin Clarke".  I ask, shyly, "Kevin Clarke as in.... PSE&G POWER PLAYYYYYYYY"? and he starts laughing hysterically and says that yes, that's him. He tells us a bunch of awesome stories; about how halfway through the season a few years back, Zach got upset and told him to pronounce it "Par-ee-say" instead of "Par-ee-see", about how Chico is always late to meetings and TV time because he talks to fans too much, about how at the Devils/Rangers ECF game 6 his goal announcement came too late because he was screaming and celebrating, and how he's never seen a stadium erupt quite like that. It was really, really awesome. Anyway, we're having drinks-on-drinks-on-drinks, and I start drunkenly telling him about how my buddy and I used to always laugh hysterically when he'd say "Doctor Murray Seltzer". He gets the idea of calling my buddy up and reciting it into the phone to make my friend laugh, so we did. It was really, really awesome.

 

Anyway, that was my Devils trip. They went 0-2, but damn it was fun.

 

Here's the henrique thing

 

mb3m.jpg

I feel compelled to reply to this since I am a die-hard Devils fan but have lived in Florida for the past 15+ years (1 hour from Tampa).

 

I will start by saying I have been to Florida's current arena one time.  I paid a pretty hefty price for 2 tickets and drove 3+ hours each way during our 2012 Cup run.  My father and I sat in the 200 level a few rows up behind one of the nets, and I didn't think the view was bad at all.  It was probably better since I was higher up, but overall I thought the stadium was pretty nice too.  The atmosphere was kinda jumping for a playoff game, and even though we lost that game 3-0 I still had a good time.  No fans gave me a hard time despite wearing my Devils jersey (it was red so I probably blended in with the other home FLA red jerseys).  I thought having Brooklyn Water Bagel inside the stadium was pretty awesome too since it's hard to get good bagels around here.

 

Oh and did you happen to see the tons of memorabilia on display on one of the concourses?  There was a ton of jerseys, equipment, and photos from previous Panthers players, and they even had some generic NHL stuff and also some of their minor league affiliates which I thought was also cool.  It was nice to go down memory lane and remember the Panthers players from when the franchise was first established.  I give props to them for trying to a build a loyal fanbase this way since they're still in their infancy and don't exactly have a rich heritage yet.  Certainly no major accomplishments in terms of post-seasons success besides the 96 season, so it's gotta be hard for the front office and/or management to really do much to keep people excited and interested, but they're trying.

 

Leaving the stadium that day wasn't too bad if I remember correctly.  I think it was a weird 6:30 start time or something during the playoffs so the game was over by around 9, which gave just enough time for us to make the 3 hour drive home and be back around midnight.  The worst part really was that the arena is kind of in the middle of nowhere.  They do have a huge mall just across the street so we actually drove up in the morning and went to that during the day, but if you aren't doing that then I agree it's kind of in a weird location.  Overall though I'd say it's not too bad.

 

As far as Tampa is concerned, I agree that their overall fan experienced, in terms of outside fan affair, as well as the pre-game material, is second to none.  It really is incredible.  Hell even their commercials on TV for season tickets and advertisements on the radio are amazing.  Their production staff is just really talented and creative.    It all starts with the yellow "lightning" bolts outside of the stadium when you walk up which have been a staple of the team for as long as I've lived there (maybe since the team was founded, I'm not sure).  They also just put like a life-size statue of the founder, Phil Esposito, outside the stadium which I think was pretty sweet, and apparently they are constructing a HUGE statue of Dave Andreychuk in the near future too.  (I was pissed that we lost a game that we needed for the playoff hunt, and I was also a little drunk, so I was actually messing with my friend and telling him I wanted to take my jersey off and put it over the statue of Phil and take a picture lol) They have really done some major improvements to stadium, which not only include the insanely impressive and massive scoreboard as you mentioned and also the things that do shoot real lightning (how cool is that?), but if you had seen the way the stadium looked before, it went through an enormous overhaul.

 

For starters, they changed out almost every single seat in the arena and replaced them with cushioned and more comfortable ones, regardless of section or price.  They also opened up the 1st level areas like you mentioned and put some standing-only bar areas for you to enjoy the game from the concourse level which is nice.  And they also removed a big section behind the net in the 300 level for the Coors Light bar area and the GIGANTIC organ.   I don't like how the organ plays the national anthem, but it is still a pretty cool sight. 

 

I don't know if you made it to the Bud Light Party Deck which is on the 300 level outside, but it is fvcking sweet too.  They have $2 drafts after every game which is sick and on most nights when the weather is nice it is a great place to grab a few drinks and kick back after a win. 

 

Regarding the hotels and meeting the players, that is very awesome that you got to meet so many players and personnel.  When I was a young teen, probably 13, 14 or 15, a good friend of mine and I used to go to games early and try to get autographs.  We would wait around back by the Lightning player's parking lot and although it was easier to catch them after the game walking to their cars, occasionally we would catch guys on their way in if we got there early enough.  We also would go over to the Marriott and try to catch the visiting players walking over as well.  It's tough because as you said some of them walk, and others take the bus.  Also, nowadays a few other hotels have sprouted up which I think you mentioned (one is across the bridge) -- my good friend that I just mentioned actually works for the Lightning in corporate sales now (imagine that), and he did tell me that teams actually stay at pretty much one of three different hotels, so it is a little tougher to try to meet and see guys now since they aren't all just at the Marriott the way it pretty much was 10 or so years ago.

 

 I have loved (played, and watched) hockey for nearly 25 years and it is my favorite sport above all others and the Devils are by far my favorite team above the others too (Giants, Mets), but I have to say the Lightning have made it very easy for me to root for them as my 2nd favorite team and adopt them as the "hometown team" since I cannot attend Devils games from where I live today.


Edited by NJDfan1711, 26 March 2014 - 07:54 AM.

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#64 DJ Eco

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 08:52 AM

 

 

Pretty cool to hear about the Lightning arena and game-day experience, would love to check a game out down there. I've always liked the Lightning, unfortunately mostly because of the St-Louis/Lecavelier duo haha... Bummer they're gone, but Tampa's still great, I usually root for them throughout the season.


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#65 Daniel

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 09:14 AM


 

I don't know if you made it to the Bud Light Party Deck which is on the 300 level outside, but it is fvcking sweet too.  They have $2 drafts after every game which is sick and on most nights when the weather is nice it is a great place to grab a few drinks and kick back after a win. 

 

 

 

That's interesting.  I always thought it was a league policy that no alcohol could be served after the start of the third period, but perhaps it's a loophole.


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#66 DJ Eco

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 10:19 AM

That's interesting.  I always thought it was a league policy that no alcohol could be served after the start of the third period, but perhaps it's a loophole.

 

Didn't the Devils do something similar at the goal bar? I think you can serve alcohol as long as it's framed as a post-game party, or something like that.

 

Edit: the "Always Sunny..." and "Seinfeld" references in your sig just made me spit out my coffee hahahahaha


Edited by DJ Eco, 26 March 2014 - 10:20 AM.

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#67 LucifersDog

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 03:44 PM

OH right, just Rhetoric, no supporting documentation, as usual, spoiled rich kid..

 

He won't see this message because he blocked me out, because I called him  out.

 

Some people get thrills having their girlfriend being chased by an sports star, so they think.

 

What a waste. This isn't the first time either.

 

What will be the next experience "he isn't better".


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#68 Martyisth3b3st

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 03:34 PM

Holy hell you're such a little bag of sh!t. I had a tough week, okay? I'll post them when I get a chance. Also, I'm dead assed serious: I wonder if you'd ever say this to my face. If you say you would, I'd love to meet you.
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#69 Martyisth3b3st

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:15 PM

Sorry it took so long. Again, rough week, had a few other priorities.

 

Here's a few photos. Our faces are blurred out because LD is such a creepy little fvck.

 

8jjg.jpg

 

Dani with Henrique. Funny thing about this photo - we were under a huge shaded loggia, and it was really bright outside, so it was almost impossible to "see" them. I felt bad, but I kind of turned the camera so Mark Fayne's monstrous head blocked the sun so I could at least see them. That's his hand you see on the other side.

 

1cok.jpg

 

Me with Chico. God, I love him.

 

9pdn.jpg

 

Ryder signing Dani's jersey. Awesome.

 

ml51.jpg

 

Dani waiting to get high-fives before practice!

 

wakk.jpg

 

Post-game at the bar. Matt's a really fun guy to be around; obviously has a lot of neat stories.

 

j0pz.jpg

 

Mr. clarke. He's THE man. It was like 50 million degrees in the bar and I was drunk as it is, so I took off my jersey. One of the coolest guys I've ever met.


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#70 SMantzas

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:21 PM

Good stuff MB.
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#71 Martyisth3b3st

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:28 PM

Good stuff MB.

Thanks! It was a blast


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#72 PWW

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:31 PM

Very awesome. Super jealous tbh.


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#73 Neb00rs

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:49 PM

Man Chico has a great tan.


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#74 Martyisth3b3st

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:50 PM

Man Chico has a great tan.

Hahahahahahaha. Truth


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#75 Daniel

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 05:13 PM

Obviously stock photos you found through google searches. Signed, Get Real.


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#76 LucifersDog

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:19 PM

Holy hell you're such a little bag of sh!t. I had a tough week, okay? I'll post them when I get a chance. Also, I'm dead assed serious: I wonder if you'd ever say this to my face. If you say you would, I'd love to meet you.

 

 

I would love to call you out to your face. What will you do be a bully and beat the sh!t out of an old man that has your number? Be careful I am trained.

I thought you put me on ignore? Lying again?


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#77 LucifersDog

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:22 PM

Sorry it took so long. Again, rough week, had a few other priorities.

 

Here's a few photos. Our faces are blurred out because LD is such a creepy little fvck.

 

8jjg.jpg

 

Dani with Henrique. Funny thing about this photo - we were under a huge shaded loggia, and it was really bright outside, so it was almost impossible to "see" them. I felt bad, but I kind of turned the camera so Mark Fayne's monstrous head blocked the sun so I could at least see them. That's his hand you see on the other side.

 

1cok.jpg

 

Me with Chico. God, I love him.

 

9pdn.jpg

 

Ryder signing Dani's jersey. Awesome.

 

ml51.jpg

 

Dani waiting to get high-fives before practice!

 

wakk.jpg

 

Post-game at the bar. Matt's a really fun guy to be around; obviously has a lot of neat stories.

 

j0pz.jpg

 

Mr. clarke. He's THE man. It was like 50 million degrees in the bar and I was drunk as it is, so I took off my jersey. One of the coolest guys I've ever met.

 

What a dumbass you can't even take a good clear picture. She should bolt but then there is the money.


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#78 Devilsfan118

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:37 PM

What a dumbass you can't even take a good clear picture. She should bolt but then there is the money.

 

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#79 Devlin

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 07:48 PM

Sorry it took so long. Again, rough week, had a few other priorities.

Here's a few photos. Our faces are blurred out because LD is such a creepy little fvck.


Cool experience ;) you will always be telling the story to people!

I've posted some photos (gallery) when I met Dano, Kirk M and other devils when I was a "kid". I still tell the story to friends and family. :)

Dano and I had hair! Lol

Nice photos! Glad you shared them.

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#80 Neb00rs

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 08:09 PM

Wait...I just realized...you cut Fayne out of the shot? Poor guy can't catch a break these days. Haahaha.


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