Ken Daneyko, New Jersey Devils (retired)
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Kenneth Stephen Daneyko (born April 17, 1964) is a retired Canadian ice hockey defenceman of Ukrainian origin who played his entire career (1983–2003) with the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League, winning three Stanley Cup championships with the team. He has been affectionately nicknamed "Mr. Devil" by Devils fans, as he currently holds the franchise record for games played as a Devil with 1,283 games. Daneyko now provides color analysis alongside Steve Cangialosi during broadcasts of Devils games on MSG Plus.
Daneyko was drafted in the first round (18th overall) in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, the second pick of the New Jersey Devils after the franchise relocated from Colorado; when he was drafted the Devils had not yet chosen a team name. He spent several seasons in the minors before getting drafted, and played for the Yorkton Terriers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, as well as the Great Falls Americans, Spokane Flyers and Seattle Breakers of the Western Hockey League. He was called up to the Devils for the start of the 1983–84 season, but cracked his fibula during a game against the Hartford Whalers and missed over 40 games. After his injury healed, he was assigned to the Kamloops Junior Oilers of the WHL for the remainder of the season.
Upon his arrival in the NHL, Daneyko established himself as a stay-at-home defenceman, and soon won fans over with his gritty and self-sacrificing play. Daneyko was also known for his missing front teeth, lost after he was hit in the mouth by a puck. His gap-toothed smile was well known not only by Devils supporters, but by hockey fans around the world. As a player who had spent all of his NHL career with New Jersey, Daneyko was nicknamed "Mr. Devil". He is also referred to by the nickname "Dano."
Daneyko racked up over 2,200 penalty minutes in his career, finishing a season with over 200 penalty minutes five times. Daneyko was never known as a high-scoring defenseman, and set a record by playing in 255 consecutive regular-season games without scoring a goal. In fact, in his highest-scoring season, 1989–90, he scored only six goals and 15 assists en route to a 21-point season. Five seasons he scored no goals at all. However, Daneyko's effectiveness was not measured by how many pucks he put in the net, but by how many pucks he kept out of the net. Daneyko was used primarily as a shadow defenseman, and often got physical in front of the net if a forward parked himself in the crease looking for a rebound.
In the late 1990s, Daneyko struggled with alcoholism but General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Devils owner Dr. John McMullen stood by him and checked him into rehab. Daneyko recovered and played every game of New Jersey's successful 2000 playoffs, winning the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2000.
Along with Scott Stevens, he was part of a tough Devils defensive core that won the Stanley Cup three times in 1994–95, 1999–2000 and 2002–03. From the team's first playoff game while in New Jersey in 1988, Daneyko played in every playoff game until Game 4 of the 2003 quarterfinals. He also was scratched in the first six games of the 2003 finals, but looking for a spark coach Pat Burns inserted Daneyko into the lineup for Game 7 replacing Oleg Tverdovsky. As a reward to his devotion of the team, and a hint of his impending retirement, Daneyko took the ice for the final shift of the Devils' Game 7 victory over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, which clinched their third Stanley Cup victory in 2003.
The Devils retired his uniform number, #3, on March 24, 2006. He was the second Devil to receive the honor after Scott Stevens had his #4 retired on February 3, 2006.
Daneyko currently provides his color commentary on Devils' broadcasts on MSG Plus. Prior to this, he shared commentary and analysis between periods of Devils' broadcasts and was a regular starring analyst on MSG's "Hockey Night Live!" with host Al Trautwig and fellow commentators Ron Duguay, Dave Maloney, Mike Keenan, and Butch Goring, as well as "The Hockey Maven" Stan Fischler.
In October 2009, Daneyko began competing as a pairs figure skater on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reality show Battle of the Blades.
In 2010, Daneyko portrayed himself in the short film Ice Hockey, written and directed by Larry Cohen. The film also featured Randy Velischek.
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