The New Jersey Devils franchise got its start at the beginning of the 1974-75 season, when the NHL opened an expansion franchise in Kansas City. Then known as the Kansas City Scouts, the fledgling franchise struggled mightily for two seasons, posting a dismal 27-110-23 record during that time span. After two years in Kansas City, the franchise would be relocated to Denver and renamed to the Colorado Rockies. The organization played in the Centennial State for six seasons, from 1976-77 to 1981-82. During that time frame, the team’s misfortunes continued to mount. It posted a 113-281-86 record over six seasons, which left management reeling and sent the organization out of Denver. The team relocated to the Meadowlands in New Jersey in time for the 1982-83 season, and assumed the identity that we all know it as today: the New Jersey Devils. The team ran a fan contest to determine its new name. The “Devils” name comes from the Jersey Devil, a mythical creature that is said to live in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
Despite the relocation, the team’s struggles continued in the Garden State. In their first two seasons, the Devils won only 34 out of 160 games played. This was rock bottom for the franchise, as the 1984-85 campaign saw the team get to 22 victories on the year. Each season after that brought steady improvements, until 1987 when Lou Lamoriello was hired as the President and General Manager of Jersey’s Team. The 1987-88 season was the franchise’s most successful yet, as the franchise posted its first record above NHL .500 with 38 wins, 36 losses and 6 ties. This was good enough for the team to claim its first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to an overtime goal from John MacLean in overtime of the final game of the season. The Devils would go on to defeat the New York Islanders in 6 games in the Patrick Division Semifinals, and the Washington Capitals in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, before being bested by the Boston Bruins in seven games.