October 15, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Dave Hannan

Dave Hannan was an average player in many respects. Yet he was one of the most valuable and unheralded players on every team he ever played on.

"Hanner" was an average skater and puckhandler. He liked to play a physical game but because of his size limitations, he wasn't the most effective hitter out there. Yet he played bigger than he actually was. Hannan was a good faceoff man and penalty killer, with a knack for defensive anticipation. Although he had modest tangible skills, Hannan enjoyed a 16 year professional career with more than 900 games under his belt. He lasted that long because of his great attitude, hard work and leadership abilities.

After playing his junior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie and Brantford of the Ontario Hockey Association, Hannan was drafted 196th overall in the 1981 Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hannan played his first NHL game during the 1981-82 season with the Pens, but spent the rest of the year with the Pens farm team in Erie of the AHL.

Dave spent most of the 1982-83 season with the Pens, scoring 11 goals and 33 points, but spent most of the following two seasons in the minors. He did appear in 54 NHL contests over those years but it wasn't until the 1985-86 season that Hannan had finally made it to the National Hockey League to stay.

Hannan played a solid role as a penalty killer and defensive specialist in what was essentially his 2nd full NHL season. But Hannan also chipped in with his best offensive season, scoring 17 goals and 35 points.

"Hanner" was on course for a similar season in 1986-87 but he was limited to only 58 games due to injuries. He scored 10 goals and 25 points

Dave began his seventh pro season in the Penguins' organization before he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers during the 1987-88 campaign. Hannan was part of the huge deal that saw Paul Coffey leave Edmonton. The deal essentially was Hannan, Craig Simpson, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph for Coffey, Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp. That year he helped the Oilers win the Stanley Cup, the first of his career, an obvious highlight of his career. 

"Winning the Cup in Edmonton and playing with some great players, it was a big stepping stone for my career," Hannan said.  "I learned how to win in Edmonton and how to care about your teammates." he said. 

Hannan's stay in Edmonton was short however as the Penguins re-acquired him for the 1988-89 campaign. The Pens picked up the likeable center off of the preseason waiver draft list. He played in 72 games for the Pens that year, scoring 10 goals and 30 points. He played aggressively, picking up a career high 157 penaty minutes.

Hannan joined the Toronto Maple Leafs the following year where he played parts of three seasons with Toronto. One of the highlites of his stay in Toronto came in his third year. He was having a long season as he wasn't playing very much and was obviously counting down the days until he was moved from Toronto. Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher suggested that Hanner should join Dave King's Olympic program. It would give Hannan a chance to resurect his career and Team Canada desperately wanted his veteran leadership. For Hannan, the choice was obvious and had no regrets.

"I really enjoyed the '92 Olympics because I'd never been to Europe and I didn't really realize how big the Olympics were till I got there," Hannan said. "Once I got over there to practice with the team and started seeing the hoopla and the media and the attention that you get, and then when I marched into the stadium with the team, I felt like a young kid again with this team jacket on. It was incredible. 

"I went over there and had a fairly good tournament and we won the silver medal," Hannan added. "I didn't really realize it at the time, I mean it was great to win it (the silver medal), but as the years passed on it sunk in more and the Olympic experience was something I'll never forget." 

Following the Olympic tournament, he returned to the NHL and was traded to the Buffalo Sabres where he completed the 1991-92 season.  The Sabres were impressed by his play in the Olympics and decided to take a chance on him. It worked out really well for all involved as Hannan spent parts of five seasons with the Sabres as a key defensive forward and sound penalty killer.

Hannan began the 1995-96 campaign with Buffalo but midway through the season he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. He played a key role in the Avalanche's Stanley Cup championship run that season and looks back at that Cup victory, the second of his career, with fond memories. 

"I think getting traded and going to Colorado, which was at the time where my career was probably almost over, to go through that and then watch guys win Cups and have success for their first time was amazing," he said. 

Hannan then played 34 games with the Ottawa Senators during the 1996-97 season before deciding to hang up the blades. He retired from the NHL with career totals of 114 goals and 305 points in 841 regular season games.

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