August 09, 2011
Puck Treasures looks to find those hidden hockey treasures from the past and present, and gives them their proper remembrance. Seen an interesting piece of hockey apparel? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We've often debated the appropriateness of wearing conference champions swag. If your team won the Stanley Cup, then that gear is going to trump the gear from the previous round. If your team lost in the Final … well, why on Earth would you want to remind yourself of that agony with some dopey "CONFERENCE CHAMPS" sweatshirt?
The exception has always been when a conference championship (sans Cup) meant something historic for your franchise; like, for example, the 1996 "rat trick" Florida Panthers, whose Eastern Conference title remains the franchise's lone moment of postseason relevance. No shame in a Panthers fan rocking that gear.
Which brings us to the bling above: The 1988 New Jersey Devils Patrick Division Championship ring.
At first, you might scoff at the notion of a division champs ring, being that it's the NHL equivalent of a junior varsity letter jacket. Hell, there are plenty of puckheads who find a division title banner pointless, let alone a ring.
At first we thought this was some kind of salesman's sample that was produced but never handed out. But the Devils' first playoff appearance and Cinderella run — knocking off the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals, before losing to the Boston Bruins in the conference finals — were actually commemorated by a "championship ring."
There was a 2007 Classic Auction that featured a ring sold by a former Devils front office employee, going for $1,726.15. The ring above is a salesman sample made for Coach Jim "Have Another Donut" Schoenfeld, and is currently available on eBay for $3,500. (Over $3K for Cubic Zirconia? Really?)
So there you go: a chance to dress like a champion. OK, like a division champion. OK, like Joe Cirella. Seriously, did any member of the '88 Devils wear this ring and tempt massive ridicule if they bumped into a member of the Oilers or Islanders at a golf outing?