The Devils' first-ever postseason came one win shy of a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.newjerseydevils.com –
Twenty years ago the New Jersey Devils were a young franchise still hoping for a chance at postseason glory.
They would get that opportunity in 1988, making the playoffs for the first time in club history and coming within one win of an appearance in the '88 Stanley Cup finals.
The last two decades have seen the Devils win three Stanley Cup championships in a span of nine seasons, while winning seven Atlantic Division titles. The team's look has changed from red and green to red and black, and it now calls Newark's Prudential Center home.
But before the Devils developed into one of the NHL's elite, they were an organization working toward postseason success. And it started with that run in 1988.
Here's a look at some of the players that were a part of that special spring. Sean Burke –
The Windsor, Ontario native had turned 21 just four months before the start of the 1988 playoffs. After dropping Game 1 of the Patrick semis in overtime, Burke won three of his next four starts to put the Devils into the second round.
In 1992, Burke was sent to Hartford with Eric Weinrich for Bobby Holik and a second-round pick that was used to select Jay Pandolfo in the 1993 Entry Draft.
Burke played 162 games over four seasons in New Jersey, posting 62 victories. He is currently Director of Prospect Development of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Patrik Sundstrom –
The 6-0 Swede arrived in New Jersey as part of a 1987 deal that sent Kirk McLean and Greg Adams to Vancouver. He collected 15 goals and 36 assists in the regular season, but made his mark in 1988 with an outstanding playoff.
Sundstrom led the Devils with 20 points (7g-13a) in 18 playoff games, including an NHL-record eight points (3g-5a) in Game 3 of the Patrick finals against Washington. He would star for more than four seasons with the Devils, notching 86 goals and 160 assists in 305 games before retiring in 1992.
Sundstrom is currently involved with coaching youth hockey in Sweden. His son Alexander was selected by the Devils in the seventh round of the 2005 Entry Draft.
Mark Johnson –
The 5-9, 165-lb. forward was acquired in September 1985 and was a key component of New Jersey's playoff push three years later. Johnson had a pair of goals in Game 2 and 3 of the Patrick semis and broke out for four goals in a 10-4 rout of Washington in Game 3 of the Patrick finals. He would finish second on the team with 10 goals and eight assists.
Johnson appeared in 305 games as a Devil, collecting 89 goals and 140 assists for 229 points. The Madison, Wis., native is currently the head coach of the University of Wisconsin's women's ice hockey program and led the Badgers to back-to-back NCAA Div. I titles in 2006 and 2007.John MacLean –
Currently an assistant coach with the Devils, MacLean was instrumental in getting the team to its first playoff berth. MacLean had two goals in the final game of the regular season – including the overtime winner – to put the Devils into the postseason with a 4-3 victory at Chicago.
His seven goals and 11 assists in the playoffs included the deciding tallies in Game 7 of the Patrick finals in Washington and Game 6 of the Wales finals versus Boston.
MacLean, who was a member of New Jersey's Cup-winning team in 1995, spent 14 years with the Devils as a player. He had three-straight 40-goal seasons from 1988 to 1991 (42, 41, 45) and holds the club records for all-time goals (347) and points (701).
Entering his seventh season as a member of the Devils' coaching staff, MacLean is third all-time in assists (354) behind Scott Niedermayer and Patrik Elias
(currently tied, 364).Aaron Broten –
Originally a member of the Rockies, Broten came to New Jersey after the franchise relocated in 1982. The native of Roseau, Minn., was second only to Kirk Muller in regular season scoring (26g-57a-94pts) in 1988, and scored the first playoff hat trick in Devils history in Game 2 of the Patrick finals.
Broten, who was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, scored 147 goals and 283 points for 430 points in 581 games with New Jersey. He is currently the president of an investment company in Roseau.
Tom Kurvers –
The Bloomington, Minn., native was the highest-scoring defenseman for the Devils in the 1988 playoffs, netting six goals and nine assists, including the game winner in Game 5 of the Patrick finals in Washington.
Kurvers played 131 games over three seasons as a Devil, scoring 21 goals and 79 assists. He was traded to Toronto on October 16, 1989 in exchange for the pick that was used to select Scott Niedermayer third overall in the 1991 Entry Draft.
Kurvers is currently the Director of Player Personnel for the Phoenix Coyotes.Kirk Muller –
"Captain Kirk" led the way during the Devils' breakout year with 37 goals and 57 assists in 80 regular-season games, and chipped in four goals and eight assists in the '88 playoffs.
Selected second overall in the 1984 Entry Draft, Muller was one of the most productive centers in club history with 520 points (185g-335a) in 556 games.
The native of Kingston, Ontario, was sent to Montreal with Rollie Melanson in 1991 for Stephane Richer and Tom Chorske. He is currently an assistant coach with the Canadiens. Pat Verbeek –
Another home-grown product, the Devils' third choice in the 1982 Draft notched the first 40-goal season (46) in club history during the '87-88 campaign. He contributed four goals and eight assists during the postseason run, with the winning goal in Game 4 of the Wales finals against Boston.
Verbeek, now a pro scout with the Detroit Red Wings, spent seven seasons with the Devils, collecting 321 points (170g-151a) in 463 games.Claude Loiselle –
Acquired from Detroit in 1986 for Tim Higgins, Loiselle had 10 points (4g-6a) during the 1988 playoffs. He appeared in 217 regular season games with the Devils, scoring 40 goals and 56 assists over three seasons.
Loiselle recently completed his third season as the assistant general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and also serves as the g.m. of Tampa's AHL-affiliate Norfolk Admirals.
Bruce Driver –
The Toronto product was the Devils' top offensive blueliner during the '87-88 regular season with 15 goals and 40 assists. Selected with Colorado's sixth choice in the 1981 Entry Draft, Driver was a Devil for 12 seasons that included the 1995 Stanley Cup title.
Driver is third all-time among Devils' defensemen in goals (83), assists (316) and points (399), and currently serves as Director of the Devils Alumni Association. Craig Wolanin –
The rugged, 6-3 blueliner was selected third overall by the Devils in the 1985 Entry Draft and wore red and green for five seasons through 1990, when he was shipped with future considerations (Randy Velischek) to Quebec for Peter Stastny.
The Michigan native now works in corporate development in the greater Detroit area.Ken Daneyko –
A Devil for all 20 of his NHL seasons, the physical rearguard had 83 penalty minutes during New Jersey's 20-game run in the '88 postseason. Daneyko was a member of all three of the Devils' Stanley Cup teams and retired after the 2003 season, leaving the game as the club's all-time leader in seasons, games played (1,283) and penalty minutes (2,519).
Daneyko joined Scott Stevens as the only Devils ever to have had their numbers retired when his No. 3 was raised to the rafters on March 24, 2006.
These days, Daneyko contributes analysis during MSG Plus broadcasts of Devils games and maintains an active role as a Devils Alumni Representative. Joe Cirella –
A first-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 1981, Cirella was a Devil for seven seasons from 1982 to 1989. The defenseman tallied 43 goals and 147 assists in 438 games with New Jersey.
Following his playing career he served as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers and was an assistant coach with the Oshawa Generals (OHL) for five seasons. Doug Brown –
The Southborough, Mass., native had just four games of NHL experience entering the 1987-88 season, but made an impact during his first full campaign. Brown potted 14 goals and 11 assists in the regular season, and added five goals and a helper over 19 appearances in the '88 postseason.
Brown has coached youth teams in the Detroit area and is slated to be an instructor at a Michigan hockey school this summer.David Maley –
Obtained from Montreal for a third-round pick in 1987, Maley posted four goals and two assists in 44 games of the '87-88 season. He added three goals and an assist in the playoffs.
The native of Beaver Dam, Wis., finished his Devils career with 32 goals and 50 assists in 280 games. He is the founder and president of a roller hockey facility in San Jose, Calif.Pat Conacher –
The 5-8 centerman signed as a free agent during the 1985 offseason and spent six seasons in New Jersey (24g-29a, 193 games). Conacher compiled four points (2g-2a) in the 1988 playoffs, including the game-winning goal in Game 5 of the Patrick semis against the Islanders.
These days the Edmonton native is a pro scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jack O'Callahan –
A member of Team USA's "Miracle on Ice" gold-medal victory at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, O'Callahan appeared in 50 games as a Devil in '87-88.
O'Callahan contributed a goal and three assists in five playoff appearances in 1988, and retired in 1989 after two seasons in New Jersey. He later founded a financial services business in Illinois.Brendan Shanahan –
Selected second overall by the Devils in the 1987 Entry Draft, Shanahan potted two goals and an assist in 12 games of the '88 postseason. The native of Mimico, Ontario, played three more seasons in New Jersey, compiliing 88 goals and 126 assists over 281 total games as a Devil.
When Shanahan departed for St. Louis in 1991 as a free agent, the Devils obtained Scott Stevens as compensation.
He recently completed his 20th season as a player. Doug Sulliman –
Signed as a free agent in 1984, Sulliman posted at least 20 goals in each of his first three seasons as a Devil. He made nine appearances in the 1988 playoffs, collecting three assists.
Sulliman is currently the Director of New Business Development for a major insurance brokerage firm.
Jim Korn –
Obtained in 1987, Korn scored eight goals and 13 assists in 52 games of the '87-88 campaign. The 6-4, 220-lb. left wing made nine appearances in the 1988 playoffs, chipping in two assists.
Korn now works with an investment firm in his native Minnetonka, Minn.Randy Velischek –
The Montreal-born defenseman was acquired from Minnesota in the 1985 Waiver Draft, and played five seasons with the Devils through 1990.
After a stint as the color analyst on Devils radio broadcasts, Velischek is now a foreign languages teacher in New Jersey.
Anders Carlsson –
New Jersey's fifth choice, 66th overall in the 1986 draft, Carlsson posted seven goals and 26 assists in 104 games as a Devil. The native of Galve, Sweden, added the game-winning goal in Game 3 of the Patrick finals against Washington.
Carlsson is currently a scout for the Colorado Avalanche.
Andy Brickley –
The Melrose, Mass., native signed as a free agent in 1986 and spent two seasons in New Jersey, tallying 19 goals and 26 assists in 96 games. He made four appearances in the 1988 playoffs, then was claimed by Boston in the '88 Waiver Draft.
Today, Brickley is the color analyst for Boston Bruins broadcasts on NESN, and performs the same role for select broadcasts on VERSUS.Troy Crowder –
Crowder's short stay in New Jersey included one appearance in the '88 playoffs. When he signed with Detroit in 1991, the Devils acquired Randy McKay and Dave Barr as compensation.
These days, the native of Sudbury, Ontario, is involved with an Ontario-based hockey camp.
Bob Sauve –
The veteran netminder had starred in Buffalo in the late-1970s and 80s, sharing a Vezina Trophy with teammate Don Edwards in 1979-80. After signing with the Devils in July of 1987, Sauve went on to post 10 victories in the '87-88 regular season and a 2-1 mark in the playoffs.
Sauve has been an NHLPA-certified player agent since 1996.Perry Anderson –
After collecting 222 penalty minutes during the 1987-88 season, Anderson set a club record with 113 PIMs in the 1988 postseason.
Now based in Arizona, the Barrie, Ontario, native played parts of two more seasons in New Jersey before finishing his career in San Jose in 1992.