In a February interview with the NHLPA's website, Trevor Daley had a very interesting summary of his career:
"I was able to come into the league as an offensive player and had to learn to play in my own end, which was my weakest point," recalled Daley, who had 20 goals and 53 points in 2002-03, his final junior season. "I’ve put a lot of time and effort into becoming a good defenceman, defensively speaking, that I think the offence side is now starting to come back." [NHLPA]
While Daley's last couple years (and the Stars as a whole) were up and down in terms of defense, there is something to be said for the symmetry of his career. Daley has gone from a rookie defenseman with great skating ability to one of many players who had to fight for stay-at-home, third-pairing minutes on a perennial contender before finally becoming the high-scoring veteran leader of a team itching to transition to a new era of league dominance.
We've dissected Daley's season quite a bit this year, but statistical analysis isn't capable of summing of the entirety of Daley's tenure with Dallas. In fact, most of us have horribly short memories, and even looking beyond this past season requires a bit more focus than we're usually inclined to give. However, I think the last member of the Stars to wear Brett Hull's pre-Reebok jersey deserves a proper farewell, even if it's an imperfect one. Trevor Daley has made Dallas home for him and his family, and while they are all about to go through a certain amount of upheaval in this next chapter of their lives, it seems only right that we take a few moments to look back on the years in which Daley stayed right here in Dallas.
So, without further ado, here are some of my fondest memories of "Dales." Please feel free to share your own in the comments section with all the rest of the wonderful internet folks here.
#5 - Doing Everything Possible to Win Game Six Vs. Anaheim Last Spring
The Stars were looking to force a game seven with Anaheim. As we know, that did not end up happening, but it sure looked like it was going to after Trevor Daley potted not one, but two beautiful high-speed goals against the Ducks.
I can't remember being more incredulous than I was during that game, finally realizing that the stay-at-home defenseman I used to know had once again become capable of things like this:
#4 - Giving Back to the Community
Whether he was working on getting hockey equipment for kids in underprivileged areas, taking up Marty Turco's old causes, or even showing up in person, Trevor Daley always made a point of doing charity work--most of it very quietly, too--and that's something the Dallas area is going to miss quite a bit. Players can easily go around doing the bare minimum when their teams asks them to, but Daley made charity work a big focus in his life:
#3 - Always Sticking Up for His Mates
Never the biggest player on the Stars blueline, Daley was nevertheless unafraid to stick up for his teammates no matter how intimidating the opponent. When people talk about "being a good soldier," it's usually a platitude that evokes images of showing up and playing your shifts as hard as you can. With Trevor Daley, he was always ready and willing to go above and beyond, even if that meant putting himself in harm's way. And he certainly paid the price, occasionally suffering cheap hits like this one in the course of duty. Whenever we fans start to complain about players who seem to be underperforming, it's probably worth our time to remember just how difficult, painful and even terrifying it can be for the player (and their family) to play professional hockey for a living.
Below, let's witness Dales going headfirst into altercations on behalf of teammates such as:
And Loui Eriksson
#2 - Giving Corey Perry the Business
Ah, the best "fight" of all, in a way. Yes, Corey Perry is a human being and does not deserve to be physically harmed. That said, I think we can all agree that this was as satisfying a sequence as any that happened during the Stars' last playoff series.
Goodness, I could watch this video just oh so much. As noted homer Brian Hayward says, "That's full value for those two minutes." Indeed.
#1 - Being Trevor Daley
This is more of an assortment than a pinnacle, but I'll just include the three images that most frequently come to my mind in connection with Trevor Daley.
Exhibit A: at the end of a season in which he scored a bushel of points, Trevor Daley steers the conversation away from his personal accomplishments in order to state clearly how he needed to defend better, and how he was especially disappointed in his plus/minus. Who derails a conversation about his career year in order to start point out his ugliest stat? Someone who is looking forward.
Exhibit B: The Stars were on an extended power play down 1-0 to Chicago. They hadn't been able to beat Crawford all night, until Trevor Daley did was he had to do: he found a way. I still love this goal with all of my heart.
Exhibit C: This may well be my favorite Trevor Daley moment/celebration of his career. Feel free to pick your own, but for Daley to be the one to cap off Dallas's incredible comeback against the still-behemoth team that was Detroit, well...that was special at the time, and it's still just as sweet today. And that celebration...
Best of luck in Chicago, Dales. Thanks for all the memories.