The hallmark of the Jersey Tour has been the chance for fans to meet and mingle with Devils ownership and alumni. In the process, they get a rare opportunity to learn a thing or two they hadn’t already known about Jersey’s Team.
There was one such moment at Thursday’s stop at Hoboken Bar and Grill, when Bruce Driver was asked about signing with the Rangers in 1995, just three months after raising the Devils’ first Stanley Cup.
“I’m going to be absolutely honest,” Driver said. “Everyone thought I left for the money. It had nothing to do with the money. It had to do with security. I was thinking I had three years left – maybe a little bit more in the tank. I wanted a guarantee that I was going to stay here in New Jersey and play here in New Jersey and never be traded. It went back and forth, back and forth, and I wasn’t given that in my contract.”
As director of the Devils Alumni Association, Driver helps raise money for local charities through events such as alumni games and the annual golf outing. His playing career might’ve taken him across the Hudson River, but home is where the heart is.
He offered a candid account of how he came to finish his career with the Devils’ top rival.
“I was the oldest defenseman on the team at the time,” Driver explained. “There were a lot of great, young defensemen and some are still playing today: Sheldon Souray, Willie Mitchell. I could go through a host of them that were around that needed to come up and play. I didn’t know if my number was going to be up or not, but I just wanted to guarantee that I could stay here.”
It didn’t work out that way.
“But the reason I’m here today is because my kids were born here,” he said. “They grew up here. They were born in New Jersey.”
Landing with a local team gave Driver what he wanted above all else: the chance to keep his family in New Jersey.
“I did what was necessary for my family,” he said. “I lived in the same house. I didn’t move. I commuted to New York.”
His departure from the Devils proved only temporary. He left on good terms, leaving the door open for a return to the family.
“Lou and I left on great terms,” he said. “I had the chance to come back, he said, ‘The door is open for you to come back any time you want.’”