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Devils, Kings feature several links for Stanley Cup Final

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TSN.ca Staff
5/28/2012 8:12:51 PM
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Whenever two teams meet in a playoff series, there are always historical connections between the players and/or coaches of each team and the Stanley Cup Final between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings is no different.

From former coaches and teammates to junior and Olympic teammates, the Devils and Kings have a number a connections that will reunite over the next few weeks.

One need only to look back to the 2003 NHL Draft to see where many of the key figures in this year's Stanley Cup Final started their NHL careers. Present Kings forward Jeff Carter was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers 11th overall and, after a brief stint in Columbus, landed in Los Angeles this season.

The Kings followed that pick up by selecting future captain Dustin Brown two picks later. Now in his seventh NHL campaign, Brown is mentioned as one of the favourites to win this year's Conn Smythe Trophy.

Steve Bernier was then picked 16th overall by the San Jose Sharks and despite unproductive stops in Buffalo, Vancouver and Florida, he is now an integral part of the Devils fourth line.

The Devils were up next and selected their own future captain in Zach Parise, who has become the face of the franchise in New Jersey.

Finally, the Flyers picked centre Mike Richards with the 24th overall pick of the first round. After a successful run in Philadelphia that included a captaincy, he was suddenly dealt to the Kings last summer.

So while some of their NHL careers started elsewhere, these players have landed in successful roles with their current teams and are on the verge of a career highlight.

Many would remember Larry Robinson as the Hall of Fame defenceman who toiled for many seasons with the Montreal Canadiens but he has also been the head coach of the both teams in this year's Final. After wrapping up his playing career with the Kings, he started his coaching career as an assistant with the Devils in 1993-94. Two years later, he returned to the Kings as head coach, a position he held for four seasons. He then returned to the Devils for the 1999-00 campaign and won the Stanley Cup.

In the player category, Devils teammates Alexei Ponikarovsky and Peter Harrold also shared the same dressing room in 2010 when they were both members of the Kings.

And then there are the players who used to be teammates in junior and are now facing each other with the biggest prize at stake. In 2003, the Kitchener Rangers won the Memorial Cup with forwards Mike Richards and David Clarkson in their lineup and Devils head coach Peter DeBoer behind the bench. In 2009, Game 6 hero Adam Henrique and Kings' forward Andrei Loktionov won a Memorial Cup together as members of the Windsor Spitfires. 

On the U.S. college front, Zach Parise was a teammate and roommate of Kings defenceman Matt Greene at the University of North Dakota.

The Olympics also provides an opportunity for teammates to face each other and the 2010 version in Vancouver was no different. Richards, Kings defenceman Drew Doughty and Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur were teammates on the gold medal-winning Canadian team. Meanwhile, Parise, Brown and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick were teammates on the silver medal-winning U.S. team.

Other noteworthy connections include Kings defenceman Willie Mitchell being drafted in the eighth round by the Devils in 1996 and Jordan Nolan's brother Brandon being drafted by the Devils in 2001.

Zach Parise Dustin Brown (Photo: The Canadian Press / Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press / Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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