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STALL MATES: Ken Daneyko Leaves Lasting Impression

Daneyko was goofy, and full of life, and left a lasting impression on his stall mate Bruce Driver

by Amanda Stein amandacstein / NewJerseyDevils.com

Ken Daneyko leaves an impact on just about everyone he meets. He's jovial, loves life, loves to meet Devils fans and deeply cares about the team that nicknamed him Mr. Devil. I know he leaves impressions on everyone who crosses paths with him.  

But perhaps no one more-so than one of his very first stall mates, Bruce Driver. As legendary as the "Mr. Devil" nickname is in association with Daneyko, having 'Dano' as a stall mate forever impacted Driver with a nickname he was given. 

"In the mid-80s, I finally solidified myself in the Devils lineup," Daneyko recalled, "and it was Bruce Driver, he was next to me and along with a young strapping 18-year-old named Craig Wolanin, who we got third overall, and a real fun loving, big, goofy guy, that was as big as a house. He didn't look like an 18-year-old."

It was, needless to say, an interesting mix.

"Bruce was kind of the elder statesman," Daneyko continued, "even though he's only a couple years older, he kind of kept me and Wolanin in line, I think a little. We had a lot of fun."

Wolanin and Daneyko certainly had their fun.

"He was a big rap (guy), loved rap music," Daneyko recalled of his former stall mate and defensive partner. "And he'd always be singing. I didn't know a lot of rap back then, but all of a sudden I would jump in after hearing him, whether it was Run DMC … I was more of a Salt-n-Pepa guy.

I'll stop the story right here:

Something you should know about Dano: He's not a very good singer, and he'd be the first one to admit it. He also doesn't know the correct words to songs, something else he'd be the first to admit. And despite all that, Ken Daneyko loves to sing, and so he makes no bones about it and he does. 

So with Wolanin next to him, playing music he didn't even know, Dano would jump right into the mix the only way he knew how. 

"He'd be singing some songs and I'd always implement my own words," Dano said with his trademark, boisterous laugh. "(Bruce) was kind of looking at us like we had three heads."

Little did Driver know, these two young stall mates would forever have an impact on his life, and it would include the grandchildren he hadn't yet been close to having. 

"All of a sudden, I started implementing (lyrics) with Bruce's name in it. We'd be bursting out in a rap song and somehow, I turned Bruce into 'Bru-ha' as a rhyme with some of the words and that's how it just got a life of its own. Bruce used to look at me and Wolanin like we're nuts, these kids are just absolutely nuts."

But the story doesn't end there. In preparing for this piece, Daneyko reached out to Driver, just to refresh his memory of those times, and Driver told him of the lasting impact Dano's nickname, born out of his goofiness, had on his life.

Remember how I said that Dano as a stall mate may have not impacted the life of anyone more than Bruce Driver? Well, here's why. All these years later, Dano's inability to remember lyrics and his desire to create his own, is still a part of Driver's life to this day. 

If the name "Mr. Devil" feels important and significant, imagine this if you will. The silly nickname Driver received from Daneyko's self-described inability to know words, have a little fun and somehow turn 'Bruce' into 'Bru-ha' - "because it probably rhymed with something," as Daneyko said - morphed into an even more significant nickname.

The "Bru-ha" nickname lives on today with a new iteration. 

 "Well Bruce just told me recently his grandkids kids call him 'Bru-pa.' He said that's all from way back when we were stall mates."

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