Tom Kurvers Was A Major Part Of New Jersey Devils Success

Tom Kurvers #5 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
Tom Kurvers #5 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /

When older New Jersey Devils fans hear the name Tom Kurvers, most of them smile. Kurvers was the player the Devils traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in one of the most lopsided trades in the history of the league. He was also someone who had a lot of really fun moments with the Devils in his short time with the franchise.

Before that trade became part of his legacy, Kurvers was an incredibly talented prospect that turned into a pretty good NHL player. He won the Hobey Baker Award while playing with Minnesota Duluth. He started his career with the Montreal Canadiens and won a Stanley Cup with them in 1986.

He was traded to the Buffalo Sabres one day into the 1986-87 season, but he didn’t last long there. The Devils gave up a 3rd-round pick and a 10th-round pick for Kurvers. He was actually very good for the Devils. He was especially good for the Devils first run in the playoffs when they made the Eastern Conference Finals in 1988.

Kurvers had 34 points going into the playoffs, but once the games started to matter, he was on another level. He scored 15 points in 19 games. He kept that momentum going into the next season when he had 66 points. The Devils were building a nice core here as they moved past the Mickey Mouse organization moniker. Kurvers could be a building block around others like Kirk Muller, Pat Verbeek, and Bruce Driver.

The Devils had other plans. Well, more importantly, a desperate Toronto Maple Leafs team had other plans. The Leafs offered relatively new Devils GM Lou Lamoriello a 1st-round pick to get Kurvers. This was a team hoping to make a run, and Kurvers could help them do it. Luckily for the Devils, they opted for the Leafs 1991 1st-round pick.

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Kurvers was pretty good in his first season with the Leafs. He finished with 52 points in 70 games. The second season did not go so well. Kurvers was injured, and the Leafs were straight-up terrible. The Leafs ended up trading him in the middle of the 1990-91 season, the same year they were about to lose a 1st-round pick because of a previous trade involving him. They got Brian Bradley for him.

We all know what happens next. The pick the Devils got ended up being third overall. They used it to take future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer. It was one of the main pieces to the puzzle for the Devils, and once he was ready to go the Devils never looked back.

Unfortunately, Kurvers lost his battle with lung cancer on Monday. He was currently the assistant GM of the Minnesota Wild under Bill Guerin, who is a candidate for GM of the Year. Kurvers is a legend in the state of Minnesota, and he got to go home again after starring there in college. Cancer is cruel, and this story is especially heartbreaking. He leaves behind a wife, Heather, and four children. He was just 58 years old.

Kurvers will always hold a place in Devils history. Most remember the Niedermayer trade, but that 1988 run was epic. It was incredibly fun, and hopefully, we remember the man that Kurvers was as he spent his life moving from franchise to franchise making a positive impact on each one. He had his best seasons with the Devils, and he legitimately a threat during his time wearing the red and green.