Psst: Devils Don't Really Exist, So Hush

Devils Steaming Over Criticism of Name

from Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. - What chance do the New Jersey Devils give a proposal that would give the pro hockey franchise a less demonic name? Think hell freezing over.

"I can assure you the Devils name will never change, and I think there are more important things to be thinking about than something that will never happen," team CEO Lou Lamoriello said. "It's who we are and what we want to be."

State Assemblyman Craig Stanley is taking issue with a satanic symbol representing the state's National Hockey League team, which has won three Stanley Cup championships.

"This is an age where symbolism is very important," said Stanley, a Baptist deacon whose resolution to rename the team is to be introduced in the Assembly next month. A new name would be chosen in a statewide competition.

Stanley's legislative district includes parts of Newark, where the Devils are scheduled to move into a $310 million, 18,000-seat downtown arena in September 2007, from the Meadowlands sports complex in East Rutherford.

"I've always cringed when people say they're going to see the Devils," said Stanley. "The merchandise, the paraphernalia is based on the actual demonic devil. Personally, it causes a little bit of an issue with me."

The team's mascot is red, cartoonish figure with horns and a goatee.

However, the team's name, chosen in a 1982 fan contest, comes from the mythical Jersey Devil, not the Christian symbol of the antichrist, according to Weird N.J., a travel guide to the state's most offbeat attractions.

The mythical Jersey Devil — with bat-like wings, a forked tail and oversized claws — was said to terrorize Pine Barrens dwellers in the 18th-century after being born the 13th child to poor South Jerseyans and morphing into a dinosaur-like beast.

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey agrees that the name should stay as is. Team owner Jeff Vanderbeek gave the proposal a less-than-enthusiastic reception.

"He's hellbent on keeping the Devils name," Stanley said.


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