“The Original Jersey Boy” — A Player’s Blog by Jim Dowd

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(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Jim Dowd was born in Brick, New Jersey. He came up with the Brick Hockey Club skating out of the Brick Forum and the Ocean Ice Palace and attended Brick High School from 1983-87 where he broke the National Scoring Record with a four-year tally of 375 points (189 goals, 186 assists) while helping the team to the NJSIAA championship in 1986. The first and only New Jersey native to be drafted by the New Jersey Devils right out high school, Dowd was an 8th round selection, 149th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. After high school, Dowd went to Lake Superior State University where he won an NCAA championship in 1988. While in college, Dowd continued to score at a prolific rate earning selections to numerous All-Star teams before graduating the school’s all-time leading scorer with 274 points (91 goals, 183 assists) in 1991. Dowd made his NHL debut with the Devils on March 26, 1992 against the Boston Bruins at Brendan Byrne Arena and played 17 NHL seasons with 10 different teams including the Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers amassing 71 goals and 168 assists for 239 points in 728 games. Dowd holds two NHL records: the most teams played for by an American-born player (10); and the fastest two goals in history with two goals in span of three seconds as a member of the Wild on Jan. 21, 2004 against the Blackhawks. In 1995, Dowd helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup scoring one of the most memorable goals in history when he netted the game-winning goal with 1:26 left in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. He is the only New Jersey native to win a High School State Championship, NCAA Championship and Stanley Cup.

This is his story…

THE ORIGINAL JERSEY BOY

I grew up in New Jersey, about as far from hockey as I could be at the time — about 389 miles from the Canadian border to be exact.

I first stepped on the ice when I was 3-years old at the Ocean Ice Palace in Brick. It was 1971 and Bob Auriemma was still coaching at the time. The New Jersey Devils weren’t even a part of the National Hockey League yet, but I knew skating was fun and playing hockey with my friends was even better. Just being on the ice right from the geto-go, I knew was something I loved to do. Being the second-youngest of six, I just wanted to do what my older brothers did. Mike, Brendan, my sister, Kim, all sports were a big part of our family, especially hockey.

It all started when the Brick Forum opened up. Our parents, a bunch of the dads helped build the place. For a long time Brick, New Jersey had two rinks. That’s how Brick hockey exploded. We used to always go down to the rink, no matter who was playing, you could hop on that little pond in the back. It was great. You would be out there with 8, 10, 12-year old kids, boys, girls, it didn’t matter.

My first taste of youth and travel hockey was with the Brick Hockey Club. You started in the recreation program, it was like 15 bucks for the whole season and you moved on up to mites, squirts, peewees, and it didn’t matter if you were A or B as long as you were progressing. By the time you got to high school, you were good enough to make the varsity. Those guys were like the pros to us back then. Every kid wanted to be a “Green Dragon.” We looked up to those guys as 7, 8, 9-year old kids, you just wanted to be just like them one day.

Eventually, by the time I got to high school I became a Green Dragon. My brothers, Pete, Mike, played there and by the time I was a freshman, my brother Brendan was a senior. I made the team as a freshman. That year, we won the Gordon Cup and we lost in the state finals, 7-6, to St. Joseph of Montvale. 1984 was a great year. I’ll never forget my first high school game against Montclair at the Ocean Ice Palace. It was packed. Standing-room only. I scored a goal in my first game against Montclair, which was a power house back then. I have nothing but great memories growing up with the Brick Hockey Club. Pete Morris was a great friend of mine and the list goes on an on, Danny Stevens, Tommy Branich, Tommy Cooper… great memories.

High School was amazing. I loved every minute of it. Back then it was easier to play both high school and travel. It never conflicted. We had the best of both worlds. If it weren’t for Brick High School hockey, Mr. Auriemma, my travel coach, Jim Plunkett, two of the biggest influences in my life as well as George Davidson and Jim Trainor.

It all started my sophomore year when I broke all the scoring records. That’s when all the prep schools and junior teams, the Rockets from up north, everyone came to see me and wanted me to leave Brick but I stayed. It was the best move I ever made. I started getting recognition but stayed in my hometown and played with my local hockey club with my friends.

My junior year going into my senior year, the Hockey Night in Boston Tournament was the one to go to. All the coaches, all the scouts, it was the first year that Mid-Atlantic took a team there. There was tryouts and kids from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and I made the team. That was the summer of 1986. I went up there for the month-long tournament and finished in the Top-10 in scoring along with guys like Sean McEachern, David Emma, Jeremy Roenick and Marty McInnis. The Chicago Showcase was also big and they took a team out there. That’s when Lake Superior State saw me for the first time.

I keep telling everybody, one person can change your life forever and for me that was Frank Anzalone. He took a chance on this kid from New Jersey. Back then, if you weren’t from Massachusetts, Michigan or Minnesota, you never even got a sniff. But Frank Anzalone and Jeff Jackson took a chance on me and the rest is history.

I’ll never forget my first recruiting visit to Lake Superior State. I flew from Newark to Detroit before taking a little six-seater up to Sault Ste. Marie. I got stuck in Detroit in a snowstorm but when I finally got there it was great: free sticks, free tape and everything, it was great. I had no idea what college hockey was all about. I was just a hockey and baseball player from New Jersey just trying to stay out of trouble. They were the only school that offered me anything. I got tons of letters after Hockey Night in Boston but nobody offered anything except Lake Superior. I just knew in my gut it was the place to go. Lake Superior State was a perfect fit for me. It was a small school and coach Anzalone was a no-nonsense guy. He made sure you went to your classes. If you didn’t go to class, you didn’t play. He was all about hard work and discipline.

My freshman year, we won the National Championship. We beat St. Lawrence, 4-3, in double-overtime in 1988. I had an assist on (Mark Vermette’s) game-winning goal in overtime. And we did it with nine freshman in the lineup, which is unheard of. To go from winning a high school state championship in 1986 to two years later winning a National Championship in college was great.

My senior year in high school in 1987, I committed to Lake Superior State and a few months after that my college coach called me and said, “You’re probably going to be drafted,” And I said ‘Yeah right.’ In my own mind, the only team I didn’t want to get drafted by was New Jersey because I thought it was going to be a charity pick. Around 5:30 pm the night of the 1987 NHL Draft, I get a phone call from Marshall Johnston, the Devils’ Director of Player Development, who said they just drafted me in the 8th round. Back then, there were 12 rounds, so I thought to myself, ‘Oh great, at least it wasn’t the 12th round.’ 149th overall in the 8th round of the 1987 draft.

My first training camp with the Devils was 1991-92. Back then, training camp was over a month long. The guys there, it was pretty wild. I only played in one exhibition game before being sent down to the minors. Herb Brooks was my first coach at Utica. Lou Lamoriello brought in Herb Brooks to mentor the young kids. No assistant coaches, just Herb. I got called up for one game my first year against the Boston Bruins before going back down to Utica. My second season, Herb goes up to coach the Devils, I had a great training camp but still got sent down. The Devils were loaded up the middle. I was the leading scorer in Utica but was still in the minors. My third year, Jacques Lemaire came in. I had another amazing training camp and he loved me but I still got sent down to start the season. Finally, in 1993-94, I got the call up and got a chance to play and the rest is history.

Some of my best memories with the Devils was my first game in the NHL against the Boston Bruins. My first face-off ever was against Adam Oates in the neutral zone and I swear he let me win it. But that run in 1994, my rookie year, beating the Buffalo Sabres in seven games in the first round, then the Bruins in six games in the second round, then falling to the New York Rangers in the conference finals in Game 7. Some people still call that the greatest playoff series of all-time.

It was just amazing, going from playing hockey at Brick High School to playing with guys like Kenny Daneyko, Bruce Driver, John MacLean. In 1986, I had a poster of them on my wall and here I am a few years later playing with these guys in the Stanley Cup Final. It was great. When you look up to people and you finally meet them and they’re actually great guys it makes it even better. That was one of the things about the Devils: the whole team concept. It was awesome.

I came to the Devils at the perfect time. My second year, we won the Stanley Cup. Going on that great run, we went 16-4 in the playoffs beating Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia before scoring the game-winning goal with 1:26 left against Detroit in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The game was in Detroit and my youngest brother, John, was the only one of my family at the game. I was a huge Steve Yzerman fan and here I am playing against these guys. Paul Coffey, Mark Howe were on that team. I had a goal and an assist that game and it was great. You could hear a pin drop when I scored that goal. I just went to the net with my stick on the ice, the rebound came out and I rebounded it home. It was great, you know? The Devils didn’t have a team until 1982 when they moved here from Colorado. I was 13-years old at the time and I remember thinking, ‘This is great we finally have a team we can root for’ and I was a part of that. It was a dream come true.

Right before the Christmas break in 1995, I’ll never forget it. December 19, we were playing the Flyers at home and I got a call around midnight telling me I got traded to Vancouver in a three-way deal. On paper, I went to the Hartford Whalers, Jocelyn Lemieux came to the Devils and I then went to Vancouver for Jeff Brown. It was the most-talented team I’d ever been on — Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny, Russ Courtnall, Jyrki Lumme, Kirk McLean, Trevor Linden, Marty Gelinas — but I could not have got to Vancouver at a worse time. They were not a team whatsoever, on a tail end of a great run. The Rangers had just beat them in the finals and they were sort of falling apart. They say your first trade was the hardest and I did not play well which was nothing but my own fault. Great group of guys but I went from a coach in Jacques Lemaire to Rick Ley and a totally different mindset. I’ve always played better for coaches in-your-face and it was an adjustment I didn’t make very well. That was on me.

Being on 10 teams over the course of 17 seasons, six seasons with the Devils… people ask me all the time, ‘What was your favorite place to play?’ I played on 10 teams — all great hockey cities. The worst of them all, from a hockey sense, was New Jersey but I was born and raised here. Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Minnesota, Chicago, Denver, Colorado and then Philadelphia late in my career. Growing up in New Jersey, you hated the Flyers but my last season going to play for them? What an amazing organization. I lived in Canada for six straight years. Every city, hockey was basically the number one sport. During all of that I lived in Woodbury, Minnesota the longest — four years.

It was funny, I was in the Edmonton organization from 1998-2000, had a blip in my career and spent some time back in the minors with Hamilton. That year the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets were coming in when I got a call from Jacques Lemaire. I knew Edmonton was going to expose me in the expansion draft and he told me Minnesota wanted to pick me up. When the actual draft happened, Lemaire called me and we just started laughing. I hadn’t talked to him since I got traded from the Devils. It was great and got me back into the swing of things. I played almost half my career for Jacques on New Jersey then Minnesota. Four great years for GM Doug Risebrough. I was captain there and made some great friends like Andrew Brunette, Darby Hendrickson, Matt Johnson, Brad Bombardir, Richard Park, Wes Walz — great guys. If Minnesota had the ocean, I would have never left.

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

In 2006-07, Lou Lamoriello and the Devils brought me back when I was 39-years old. We had a great year, beat Tampa in the first round but lost to Ottawa in the second round. I thought I was back but Lou called me over the summer and said he wanted me to start working for the team. I wanted to play again and knew at one point the Flyers tried to trade for me so I called GM Paul Holmgren myself and told him, ‘I want to come down and play for you.’ He said, “We’re looking for a right-handed centerman with experience. I’ll tell you what, we don’t have any room right now, we’re over the cap, but if you come to camp and do what you do I’ll make a spot.” If it was anybody else? I didn’t want to uproot my family but I decided to head down to training camp but before I did, I called Lou Lamoriello back and he said, “Woah, don’t do anything,” but they were over the cap too and had young guys. I went down, made the team out of training camp and had a great final season, the conference finals against the Penguins… that was my last season before I went right into coaching my boys. The rest, as they say, is history.

Work hard and have fun. There’s only one reason to play sports and that’s because you love it. You want to be known as the hardest-working player on the ice and in class. Do the right thing both on-and-off the ice, but the most important thing is have fun and don’t worry about what others say about you. It has to come from inside. Be the best you can be.

By Jim Dowd

Colin White #5, Martin Brodeur #30, and Jim Dowd #12 of the New Jersey Devils celebrate after defeating the Florida Panthers on November 11, 2006 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Colin White #5, Martin Brodeur #30, and Jim Dowd #12 of the New Jersey Devils celebrate after defeating the Florida Panthers on November 11, 2006 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim Dowd
Center
Born Dec 25 1968  -- Brick, NJ 
Height 6.01 -- Weight 190 -- Shoots R


Selected by New Jersey Devils round 8 #149 overall 1987 NHL Entry Draft

                                            --- Regular Season ---  ---- Playoffs ----
Season   Team                        Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM  GP   G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1987-88  Lake Superior State Unive   CCHA   45   18   27   45   16
1988-89  Lake Superior State Unive   CCHA   46   24   35   59   40
1989-90  Lake Superior State Unive   CCHA   46   25   67   92   30
1990-91  Lake Superior State Unive   CCHA   44   24   54   78   53
1991-92  Utica Devils                AHL    78   17   42   59   47   4   2   2   4   4
1991-92  New Jersey Devils           NHL     1    0    0    0    0  --  --  --  --  --
1992-93  Utica Devils                AHL    78   27   45   72   62   5   1   7   8  10
1992-93  New Jersey Devils           NHL     1    0    0    0    0  --  --  --  --  --
1993-94  New Jersey Devils           NHL    15    5   10   15    0  19   2   6   8   8
1993-94  Albany River Rats           AHL    58   26   37   63   76  --  --  --  --  --
1994-95  New Jersey Devils           NHL    10    1    4    5    0  11   2   1   3   8
1995-96  New Jersey Devils           NHL    28    4    9   13   17  --  --  --  --  --
1995-96  Vancouver Canucks           NHL    38    1    6    7    6   1   0   0   0   0
1996-97  Utah Grizzlies              IHL    48   10   21   31   27  --  --  --  --  --
1996-97  New York Islanders          NHL     3    0    0    0    0  --  --  --  --  --
1996-97  Saint John Flames           AHL    24    5   11   16   18   5   1   2   3   0
1997-98  Calgary Flames              NHL    48    6    8   14   12  --  --  --  --  --
1997-98  Saint John Flames           AHL    35    8   30   38   20  19   3  13  16  10
1998-99  Edmonton Oilers             NHL     1    0    0    0    0  --  --  --  --  --
1998-99  Hamilton Bulldogs           AHL    51   15   29   44   82  11   3   6   9   8
1999-00  Edmonton Oilers             NHL    69    5   18   23   45   5   2   1   3   4
2000-01  Minnesota Wild              NHL    68    7   22   29   80  --  --  --  --  --
2001-02  Minnesota Wild              NHL    82   13   30   43   54  --  --  --  --  --
2002-03  Minnesota Wild              NHL    78    8   17   25   31  15   0   2   2   0
2003-04  Minnesota Wild              NHL    55    4   20   24   38  --  --  --  --  --
2003-04  Montreal Canadiens          NHL    14    3    2    5    6  11   0   2   2   2
2004-05  Hamburg Freezers            DEL    20    4    9   13   12  --  --  --  --  --
2005-06  Chicago Blackhawks          NHL    60    3   12   15   38  --  --  --  --  --
2005-06  Colorado Avalanche          NHL    18    2    1    3    2   9   2   3   5  20
2006-07  New Jersey Devils           NHL    66    4    4    8   20  11   0   0   0   4
2007-08  Philadelphia Flyers         NHL    73    5    5   10   41  17   1   2   3   4
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
         NHL Totals                        728   71  168  239  390  99   9  17  26  50
Jim Dowd #12 of the New Jersey Devils and Saku Koivu #11 of the Montreal Canadiens fight for possession of the puck during their game at the Continental Airlines Arena on December 6, 2006 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
Jim Dowd #34 of the Minnesota Wild highfives his teammates as he skates by the bench against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim during game four of the 2003 Western Conference Stanley Cup Finals at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim on May 16, 2003 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images/NHLI)
(Photo by Henry DiRocco/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
Jim Dowd #34 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins battle for the puck during the first period of game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 15, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim Dowd #34 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck during the game against the St. Louis Blues on November 10, 2005 at the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jim Dowd #38 of the Colorado Avalanche warms up before facing the Calgary Flames as the Avalanche defeated the Flames 3-0 during NHL action on March 12, 2006 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Jim Dowd #15 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 13, 1996 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Jim Dowd #34 of the Calgary Flames in action during a game at the Canadien Airlines Saddledome in Calgary, Canada during the 1997-98 season. (Credit: Ian Tomlinson /Allsport)

NEW JERSEY HALL OF FAME

In 1995, Dowd and his wife started the “Jim Dowd Shoot for the Stars Foundation,” which raised money for local families and organizations in Monmouth and Ocean County for over 21 years. He continues to remain active in the community as a board member of the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival, which benefits the underserved children by providing music education, instruments and social connection opportunities. Dowd has been married for 21 years to his wife, Lisa, and has two children, James, 17, and Anthony, 14. In 2018, he will be inducted into the New Jersey State Hall of Fame. 

 

John Christian Hageny contributed to this report

 

Main Image: Jim Dowd #12 of the New Jersey Devils looks on from the bench in a game against the St. Louis Blues on January 10, 2007 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

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6 thoughts on ““The Original Jersey Boy” — A Player’s Blog by Jim Dowd

  • February 25, 2018 at 12:23 am
    Permalink

    Great story it is a privilege and honor to know you Lisa and the boys and look forward to the future

    Reply
  • February 25, 2018 at 9:43 pm
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    Great story. Great pictures. Great career, Jimmy.

    Brian Straub Sr.
    Bozeman, Montana

    Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 12:49 am
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    What a great story by a legendary athlete and superior person. I had the privilege of being his baseball coach and he was great there also. Thanks Jim for all you do for the youth and I loved this article!

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 5:28 am
    Permalink

    What a good tale by a famous sportsperson and excellent person. I had the advantage of being his hockey coach and he was great there also. Thanks Jim for all you do for the youth and I loved this article!

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 2:51 pm
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    I rember seeing colin white sighn my jersey stick and we took a pic

    Reply
  • October 4, 2018 at 6:38 am
    Permalink

    Nice story.
    The Dowds’ are such a great sports/hockey family in New Jersey!

    Reply

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