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Name: Jim MonaghanHeight: 5'8"Weight: 150
Prior to joining WDHA, Jim spent a number of years as part of the New York/New Jersey sports media corps covering the Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Devils and Rangers. Jim has over 25 years of experience coaching and playing baseball. He spent two years in baseball management with the Newark Bears. and coached the Don Bosco Prep freshman baseball team to back-to-back Bergen County championships for the only time in the school's history. He's also an instructor with Professional Baseball Instruction in Bergen County.
Saturday night at the Rock, the New Jersey Devils will attempt to stave off elimination by doing something they've only been able to do once in the first four games of the Stanley Cup Finals - beat L.A. With the exception of the 3-1 New Jersey win in Game 4. the Kings have outplayed the Devils on both ends of the ice, though it really appears that the puck has spent far more time in the Devils zone driving goaltender Martin Brodeur crazy. The casual fan might not know a whole lot about the Kings but through the first three games, Los Angeles has clearly been the better, more athletic team.
But there's more to the story tomorrow night than just the fate of the Devils' 2011-2012 season. It could also be the last time we see Brodeur and Zach Parise on the ice together as members of the team.
Marty's career has clearly been Hall-of-Fame caliber - in 21 years he's helped the Devils win 3 Stanley Cups and the team has been in the playoffs in 19 of those seasons. A four-time Vezina Trophy winner, he is the only goalie in NHL history with eight 40-win seasons. Some of his other accomplishments include wining the Jennings Trophy winner five times; he's also a ten-time NHL All-Star, a Calder Memorial Trophy winner, and one of only two NHL goaltenders to score a goal in both the regular season and the playoffs. Three seasons ago, as my son (now 11) started to get a little older, Brodeur was the reason I got him interested in hockey, telling him that Marty might be the best goaltender he would ever see in his life.
Parise is just a few weeks away from becoming an unrestricted free agent and speculation about where he will be playing next season is running rampant. Still just 27 years old, he's probably the top scorer who will be available. His style of play and ability to put the puck in the net has made him a fan favorite.
There's a good chance Brodeur will re-sign with the team. Parise is a possibility for the Devils, but know that the suitors will be lining up for him once the finals are over. You know the Rock will be ridiculously loud tomorrow night with the Devils facing a Game 5 elimination, but given that Brodeur and Parise may be playing their last game as New Jersey Devils, you have to believe that the atmosphere will be more than just a little emotionally charged.
Meanwhile, a few hundred miles to the north, the Boston Celtics may be getting ready to say goodbye to a couple of their long-time players in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Both are coming to the end of Hall-of-Fame careers and both have contracts that will expire at the end of the season. Speculation is that Garnett is more likely to be re-signed by the team than Allen.
When the NBA All Star break came at the end of February and the Celtics were struggling, the Boston sports talk shows were chock full of hosts and callers who wanted the team to be broken up. Now here we are in June and the supposedly too old and too injured Celtics are one win away from their 3rd trip to the NBA Finals in the last five years.
Last night's Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat was ugly. The Celtics led early, but the Heat had a 10-point lead at the end of the 1st quarter and really never looked back. With just a couple of minutes left in the game, and Boston trailing by double digits, the crowd at TD Garden began to file for the exits. Those who stayed, though, did something I've never seen before. Sensing that this might be the last time they see this edition of The Big Three (Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce), they started chanting "LET'S GO CELTICS" at a volume level that belied the number of empty seats in the building. The moment wasn't lost on the players, including Ray Allen who said after the game, "I said to Kevin (Garnett), I know I'm biased, but they're the best fans I've ever played in front of or ever seen in my life. They understand the situation that is before us, and that was basically them sending us off, letting us know, 'Hey, this is still well and alive. We need you guys to go down there and get a win for us.' We all felt it on the bench. It seemed like that three minutes lasted forever. It was special. I'll talk about that forever, just knowing we're down 20 and these people are still standing up, cheering us on, because they know we just have to win one game." If last night turns out to be the last time Celtics fans got a chance to see Allen and Garnett as Celtics on the home parquet floor, they let those players, and the entire team for that matter, know exactly how they feel.
The hope here is that there's a similar moment for the Devils tomorrow night against the Kings. If you're going to the game, win or lose, stay in the building to the end. Let Marty and Zach know how you feel.
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