Friday, April 17, 2015
Nicknamed "Mr. Devil", Ken Daneyko, born on this date in 1964, was drafted in the first round 18th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft after a season and a half playing defense for the Spokane Flyers and a half a season with the Seattle Breakers, both of the Western Hockey League. After being drafted, Daneyko returned to the Breakers for one more season during which he scored 17 goals and 60 points in 69 games, a feat he would never come remotely close to equalling.
He made the Devils club out of training camp only to crack a bone in his leg early in the season, but not until after he registered his first NHL goal. After missing 40 games he played the remainder of his season with the Kamloops Junior Oilers back in the WHL.
His 1984-85 season was spent with the Maine Mariners of the American Hockey League, where he proved fully healed by playing in all 80 of the Mariners games as well as playing a single game with the Devils.
After dividing the 1985-86 season between Maine (21 games) and New Jersey (44 games), Daneyko would become a Devils stalwart for the next 17 seasons, never again playing another game in the minors.
It would not be easy going at first, as the Devils would finish dead last in the NHL in 1986-87 as Daneyko would play 79 of the Devils 80 games and rack up 183 penalty minutes thanks to his rugged and self-sacrificing style.
The following season was one of improvement for New Jersey as they finished with 18 points higher in the standings to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since moving from Colorado six years previously. The Devils went on a run, making it to the third round, so after playing in all 80 regular season games, which included topping 200 penalty minutes for the first time, Daneyko totaled and even 100 games played for the season, which would prove to be good training for what lie ahead for the Devils.
Over the course of the next six seasons Daneyko would play in all but 12 of a possible 488 games which included scoring a career high 6 goals during the 1989-90 season. His solid defensive play and willingness to block shots, as evidenced by his old-school hockey smile lacking any front teeth, made him a favorite with the fans in New Jersey. From 1987 to 1993, Daneyko would top 215 penalty minutes five times in six seasons.
At the conclusion of the 1993-94 season, the Devils made another deep playoff run, getting into round three again, which strengthened their resolve for the next season. The next season would have to wait however, as a labor dispute delayed the start of competition until January, cutting the season down to 48 games. After missing 23 of the 48 games, Daneyko was back in time for the playoffs however, as the Devils put it all together and captured the first Stanley Cup in team history by sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in four straight.
Daneyko was back to his old self the next two seasons, totaling 80 and 77 games. After going goal-less in 1997-98 because of being limited to a half a season, he rebounded with a full season of 82 games and a pair of goals. It was at this point in his career that he had managed 34 goals in 16 seasons, but began a goal scoring drought in February of 1999 that would eventually stretch to record proportions.
Despite not scoring in 78 games of the 1999-00 season, Daneyko certainly had no regrets, as goal scoring was not his job and the joy of lifting his second Stanley Cup most certainly offset any disappointment of not scoring during the regular season. Daneyko also was named the recipient of the Masterton Trophy in 2000 in recognition of his perseverance in returning to hockey after overcoming his personal issues with alcohol.
After a second season without lighting the lamp, the Devils returned to the finals, only to fall in seven games to the Colorado Avalanche. The 2001-02 season also passed by with no goals, extending the drought to three seasons plus, which gave Daneyko the record with his 246th consecutive regular season game to surpass Rich Pilon as the record holder.
Entering the 2002-03 season, Daneyko's 20th, people wondered if he would ever score again before calling it a career. The streak finally ended on October 5, 2002 when Daneyko scored from the point with a slap shot against Martin Biron at 17:07 of the first period on a delayed penalty during a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, ending his drought at 255 games, which still stands as the record today.
"You know we're hurting for goals when we ask Daneyko to step up!" John Madden said in the dressing room following the game.
"I've been scoring al lot on Marty (Brodeur) of late in practice," Daneyko said. "I said, 'Jeez, I wish I could do that in a game.' Fortunately, tonight the blind squirrel found an acorn."
Daneyko found the net once again before the end of the season to bring his career goal total up to 36.
That season the Devils again qualified for the postseason, the 14th time in 16 seasons and Daneyko played in the Devils first dozen games, but was left out of the lineup going forward. But when coach Pat Burns needed a spark, Daneyko was back on the ice for the critical Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which the Devils won by a score of 3-0, ending his career on a high note that most players can only dream of, capped off by Burns putting him on the ice for the final shift of the game. He was only one of five players who were on the Devils for all three Stanley Cup championships.
It must be noted however, while Daneyko's goal-less record officially stands at 255 regular season games, he did score during the 2000 playoffs after his first scoreless season, meaning his actual longest drought was more in the neighborhood of 150 actual games, but that's not what goes into the record books. Still, three Stanley Cup championships will make one forget about any number of dubious records.
Having spent his entire career with New Jersey, Daneyko was rewarded with the honor of being only the second player in team history to have his number retired which occurred on March 24, 2006.
He (and his new teeth!) remain with the Devils organization as part of their broadcast team.
Aside from his 36 NHL goals, his NHL totals are 1,283 games (the Devils all-time leader), 142 assists and 178 points and 2,519 penalty minutes, the vast majority accumulated in the first half of his career, as he never reached 100 minutes during his final seven seasons.
Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 New Jersey Devils Ken Daneyko jersey as worn when he ended his NHL record regular season goal scoring drought. The Devils first adopted this style red and black jersey for the 1992-93 season after wearing their original red and green jerseys for their first ten seasons.
Following the change to their current red and black sweaters, now 20 years ago, the Devils have captured three Stanley Cups, resisted all temptation to introduce a third jersey, have not altered their name and number font even once and insisted they maintain their look during the change to the new Reebok Edge jerseys in what is becoming a true league classic along the lines of timeless sweaters worn by the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings.
Today's video section begins with proof that Daneyko was capable of putting the puck in the net despite his record, as he scores during Gam3 1 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals.
This next video is Daneyko's first shift in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, the last game of his career.
We are really, really overdue for some Rick Jeanneret and it's time to rectify that with a good one between Daneyko and Rob Ray, who was very fortunate to have been wearing a helmet.
The softer side of Ken Daneyko, as he competes on the Canadian reality show "Battle of the Blades".