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What the New Jersey Devils can teach you about rejection

The most painful forms of rejection usually precede the biggest breakthroughs

New Jersey Devils and rejection

The 1993-94 New Jersey Devils held a 3-2 series lead over the New York Rangers as they took the ice in their home arena for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. A Stanley Cup berth would have represented significant progress for a Devils franchise that had, in recent years, begun a climb toward credibility after years of being the laughingstock of the NHL.

Only 11 seasons prior, Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers beat New Jersey 13-4, and The Great One famously derided the Devils by calling the franchise “a Mickey Mouse operation.”

But, one win away from an Eastern Conference Championship, the Devils were poised to start a new chapter in team history.

Then the Rangers’ Mark Messier publicly guaranteed his team would force Game 7. They did, even after trailing by two goals at one point, and New York completed the comeback by winning the seventh game. It was a bitter loss for a Devils team that came so close to eliminating the first place Rangers.

The next season, however, New Jersey won the conference championship before defeating the heavily-favored Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup.

“[Losing to the Rangers in 1994] was disappointing, but we knew we were very close to getting over the hump,” John MacClean, a Devils forward during those years, told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s a process you go through before you go to the final and actually win. We used it as an education.”

The same principle applies to your dating life: If you’re starting from rock bottom, you have to have a moment — or, more likely, a series of moments — where the wildest, craziest goal you can imagine is within your reach but slips away. Only through that experience can you gain a thorough understanding of the process that will make you successful in the future.

For the Devils, as painful as it was to lose to the Rangers in 1994, the fact that they made an Eastern Conference Finals appearance represented tremendous progress for a franchise used to yearly last-place finishes. And the ultimate goal was right around the corner.

In your journey to improve your dating life — similar to a sports team’s journey to win a championship — the better you get, the more you have to lose; when you do lose, the more it hurts to ruminate over what could have been. But as time goes on, you’ll remember the learning experiences more than the pain you felt in the immediate aftermath of something that didn’t go your way.

“We did learn a lot as a team,” Scott Niedermayer, a Devils defenseman back then, told Sportsnet last year. “We learned what it takes and the commitment needed to have success and win the Stanley Cup. But, [after losing to New York in ’94], when you’re lying on the ice watching the Rangers celebrate [the game-winning] goal, you don’t see that.”

Too many men give up on improving their dating lives after a lack of initial success, or maybe after one emotionally debilitating moment. But the only way to succeed is to keep going (cliche, but true).

Lou Lamoriello, longtime Devils general manager, once said: “I believe you have to fail to have success. Sometimes if it comes too quick, you can’t sustain it.

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About Luke Harold Luke Harold is a journalist who has written for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register.

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