As all New Jersey Devils fans know, Patrik Elias is going to be the fifth New Jersey Devil to have his number retired, which will occur on February 24th against the New York Islanders. There’s no question this is an extremely well-deserved honor, considering how Elias is widely considered the greatest forward in franchise history. However, today we’re going to discuss another player who may or may not be just as deserving of that same honor: Sergei Brylin.
The current Binghamton Devils assistant coach is easily one of the better players during the Devils’ “golden years”, and is certainly worthy of at least a discussion on raising his No. 18 to the Prudential Center rafters. His statistics don’t fairly describe the type of player Brylin was. He had some great puck movement and was always a team player. What’s not to forget is Brylin is a career Devil and three-time Stanley Cup champion. He was always clutch in the playoffs, for instance, during the 1995 run when this happened in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This is a very tough decision to make because Brylin is an old fan favorite much like Elias without the stats that a player like Elias accumulated, which is the central argument for people who are against retiring Brylin’s No. 18. People who are in support of number 18 counter by admiring his dutifulness, respect, and loyalty to the organization throughout his 13-season career.
Stats aren’t necessarily the only qualification for getting your number retired, especially for the Devils. If that were the case, Ken Daneyko’s No. 3 wouldn’t be hanging in the rafters. The defenseman recorded less than 200 points in nearly 1300 career games, yet he was a career Devil for 21 seasons and that is something that cannot be overlooked – much like Brylin. Consider this: Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, and Martin Brodeur had remarkable careers with New Jersey, but don’t have something that Daneyko, Elias, and Brylin do.
Daneyko and (soon to be) Elias are the only Devils with retired numbers who spent their entire careers in New Jersey, a milestone that Brylin also shares. Therefore, I strongly believe Sergei Brylin deserves to have his No. 18 get raised to the rafters at some point in the future.