Ex-NHL player notches 350 victories as Coach for Morristown Beards School Girls Ice Hockey Team

By Evan Wechman

 

When Morristown Beard School’s Girls Ice Hockey coach Bruce Driver started taking shots on the goal as a toddler, he didn’t realize all that he would accomplish.  He was playing in Toronto, where he grew up just trying to keep up with his older brother and his father on the ice.  

According to Driver, back in Toronto, there is an old saying that “kids are born with skates on their feet.”  Hockey was always celebrated in his hometown, but he never realized what a hero he would become in New Jersey.  He was recently honored for all he has done for the kids throughout Morristown and the entire state when his team captured Driver’s 350th victory this past month.

Driver has been coaching this team since 2000 and has brought home three state championships on the way to 350 victories.  As the team is now competing in the playoffs, he and the team are both hoping they can bring a fourth title back to the school.

Though the coach has served as a role-model and leader in the community for over two decades, the road to 350 victories was not easy.   Driver was not an instant superstar when he started playing hockey in Canada, before eventually helping the New Jersey Devils capture the Stanley Cup in 1995.  On his path to bringing the cup to New Jersey, he won NCAA championships at the University of Wisconsin, and played in the Olympics for Team Canada in 1984.

He always worked hard as a player and constantly learned what he could from all the coaches who contributed to his development. Besides being grateful that his dad, who was a coach himself, helped him learn the fundamentals of the sport, Driver remains humble and acknowledges others as well.  “I had a number of great coaches as a youth player but was really fortunate to learn a lot from my college coaches, my Canadian Olympic coaches, and some of my pro coaches.  Bob Johnson, Grant Standbrook, and Jeff Sauer were all terrific college coaches who I learned a lot from.  I implement some of what I learned in those years with how I coach today.  Dave King was my Olympic coach who was a great teacher of the game.  Lastly, although I played for many great pro coaches, the ones who I felt taught my teammates and I things that I also use in my coaching style today are the tandem of Jacque Lemaire and Larry Robinson.  They were our coaches leading up to and including the year the New Jersey Devils won our first Stanley Cup championship.” 

Driver also wants the community to know that all the success at the school is a collaborative effort.  Though he has received many accolades for notching 350 victories, he understands the student-athletes he has worked with have been both talented and eager to learn.  “We have certainly been blessed with having some very good hockey players attend Morristown Beard School over the last 24 years.  In addition to having good players, most of them want to learn more about the game and play within the framework of what our coaching staff is teaching them.  These are two keys needed for team success,” Driver says.

 

The great leader continues to remain modest despite his victories as a player and coach.  He recalls that even when he played on the Devils’ Championship team, at the outset of the playoffs, most critics didn’t give them much of a chance.  However, the team’s willingness to work together and listen to their intelligent coaches propelled them to a higher level.  He’s hoping the same thing happens for his team this year as they compete in the playoffs. “Winning the three state championships in three attempts is something that is high on my list (of memories). Hopefully, we can do it again this year.”

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