February 24, 2016

Ken Daneyko

Ken Daneyko gave his heart and soul to the Devil. Errr....the Devils actually. The New Jersey Devils.
And he was rewarded with three Stanley Cup championships and his jersey was retired.

For 20 years Ken quietly and aggressively patrolled the blueline in New Jersey. He never played for another organization - a rare fact in an era where players jerseys as often as they change jock straps.

Daneyko was no super star either. Daneyko is one of those guys in hockey who never got much notice. As a defensive defenceman, he only got noticed when something bad happens. He doesn't chip in with much offense, but plays an aggressive, sometimes chippy brand of defense in his own zone and in front of his net.

Not only did Ken Daneyko just score 36 goals in 20 seasons totalling 1283 regular season NHL games. He set a NHL record for consecutive games without a goal - 255 games. That streak was spread over parts of five seasons, including three consecutive seasons without a single goal.

Strangely enough, after scoring to end that long drought Daneyko scored again in the next game - marking the only two game goal scoring streak of his entire career.

But how did a stay at home defenseman earn such loyalty from management to keep him around so long?

He was an average skater, average passer and below average shooter who, by all rights, could have been someone who would have trouble staying in a NHL lineup.

But his competitive drive was second to none. He would do anything it took to help his team win a hockey game. Add to that his hallmark strength and physicality along with underrated hockey sense and strong positioning made him one of the best defensive defensemen in the history of the game.

He was a favorite of everybody - teammates, coaches, management. Even owner John McMullen loved the guy, having lunch with the blue collar rearguard once a week for years.

Daneyko finally got some notice at the conclusion of the 2000 playoffs. After helping the Devils win their second Stanley Cup, Daneyko was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for his long service and dedication to hockey.

Times haven't always been rosy for Ken though. He's a recovering alcoholic. While his teammates took the traditional swig of champagne out of the Stanley Cup, he just sat back and watched.

Daneyko's final game of his career came with him hoisting a third Stanley Cup over his head, as the Devils won another title in 2003. Daneyko was one of only five playeers to have been part of all three of New Jersey's Stanley Cup championship teams. The others were Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Sergei Brylin and Martin Brodeur.

The Devils retired Daneyko's jersey number three in 2006.

"I understood my role and I knew I wasn't the most talented," said Daneyko, who retired as the Devils' all time leader with 2519 penalty minutes. "But I did whatever it took."

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