Former Dallas Stars defenseman Trevor Daley earned a well-deserved opportunity to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup high above his head. Let’s look back on his journey leading up to that moment.
During his time with the team, Trevor Daley was one of the most professional players in the Dallas Stars organization. Whether it was his work on or off the ice, he was always liked by the fans, the coaching staff and his teammates.
He was able to capture the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career when the Pittsburgh Penguins finished off the San Jose Sharks to become the 2016 Stanley Cup Champions.
After a remarkable run in Dallas and a unique journey to the top of the NHL, let’s take a look at how he got to his current position.
Trevor Daley began his NHL career back in 2003-04 when he was brought in to Dallas for 27 games, scoring a goal and five assists. With the NHL season being cancelled in 2004-05 due to a lockout, Daley played for the Hamilton Bulldogs, who, at the time, were part of the AHL.
Once the lockout ended and the NHL resumed action, Daley became a fixture on the Stars’ blue line. In 2005-06, he played 81 games, registering 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists).
Throughout his next six seasons, he would go on to play at least 74 games per season, notching career-highs in goals scored (8 in 2010-11) and assists (21 in 2011-12).
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Daley had become one of the team’s most reliable players and one of the class acts of the NHL with his development and play in Dallas.
Fast-forwarding to 2014-15, Daley and the Stars were coming off of a season that saw them break a five-year playoff drought. With a new year upon them and even more pieces in Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, Daley would go on to have his best season to date.
He was responsible for 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) that year as the Stars failed to make the playoffs. With relatively new GM Jim Nill making decision after decision to improve the team, he recognized Daley’s career season and decided it was time to move on from the veteran defenseman.
The summer of 2015 saw Daley get shipped to the Chicago Blackhawks with Ryan Garbutt. The deal brought veteran winger Patrick Sharp and prospect Stephen Johns to Dallas in what has looked like an absolute steal for the Stars.
Daley began the 2015-16 season with the Blackhawks, but his time with them was short. After playing just 29 games and registering just six assists, the Hawks traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Rob Scuderi.
In 53 regular season games, Daley had six goals and 16 assists, rising as a leader in the locker room and providing the Penguins with extra veteran experience to help them turn their season around.
Daley went on to have his best playoffs to date as he scored a goal and five assists, but his run ended in the Eastern Conference Final. In Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Daley suffered a broken ankle, ending his season. Up until that point, he was second in on-ice time trailing only Kris Letang.
While Daley never got out on the ice again, he still served as an undeniable locker room presence.
After the Pens’ Game 6 victory in San Jose, Daley was seen in full gear, skating around with a broken ankle in the post-game celebration.
Sidney Crosby picked up the Cup and skated over to the team, handing it over to Daley first. It was a sight that all Stars fans had longed to see during his time in Dallas and the moment served as the highlight of Daley’s career.
After the on-ice celebration, Crosby explained why he had decided to give Daley the Cup before anyone else:
Daley reacted to the special moment with some comments on Crosby (via sportingnews.com):
"“It was pretty special. He’s a great player, but he’s an even better person. There’s not much more you can say about that guy. He’s a special guy.”"
Though it had been an up-and-down year for the defenseman, Daley had overcome the odds. It was his first season playing for an NHL team not in Dallas and at one point, it looked like his career was taking a turn for the worse, as he simply wasn’t getting much playing time in Chicago.
The trade that moved the 32-year-old to Pittsburgh proved to be career-altering as he revived his play and helped his team get in position to make a run at the Cup.
Trevor Daley will surely come back healthy next season, but as for now, it’s important to realize just how big winning the Cup was for a player that has always put everything he has had into the game of hockey.