Saturday, December 17, 2011

DGA Special - Q&A with Ken Daneyko

Ken Daneyko knows how Scott Niedermayer felt when #27 was raised to the rafters.

Ken Daneyko's name will forever be synonymous with the Devils.  Nicknamed "Mr. Devil," #3 spent all of his 20 seasons as an NHL player with the Devils.  He played 1,283 regular season games in New Jersey, the most games ever played by a defenseman with one organization, as well as 175 playoff games, winning three Stanley Cups in the process.  He now adds "Q&A with Down Goes Avery" to his resume...okay, maybe not, but he was generous enough to answer some questions I had for him.  Enjoy a very special Q&A with #3.

Q: First off, your playing career: Which coach would say had the greatest influence on you as a player?

The most influential coach I had was Tom McVie early on, and then Jauque Lemaire and Larry Robinson.

Q: Which was your favorite/least favorite visiting arena to play in?  Which had the best atmosphere?

My favorite was Chicago.  Least favorite: the old Capitals arena and best atmosphere was Montreal.

Q: You're one of very few players who was fortunate enough to spend his entire playing career with one organization and had great success with that organization.  What does it mean to you to spend your entire playing career with the Devils?

It was very important to me to start and play with one team.  I was very loyal as the organization was to me, so it meant a lot to stay my whole career.  I had no interests of going anywhere else.

Q: For several years now, you and Scott Stevens have been the only two players that Devils management have honored by retiring your numbers.  What does it mean to you to see #3 in the rafters every time you're at the Prudential Center?

It's very humbling to see my number in the rafters, and I'm extremely honored.  I think nights like that are as important to the fans as the player, because of their great support.

Q: As you know, #27 now joins #3 and #4 in the rafters.  What was your reaction when you heard that the Devils decided it was time to retire Scott Niedermayer's #27?

I feel very fortunate to have played with one of the best defenseman of all time.  He deserves this special honor and I was very excited for him and the organization when they announced his number going up.

Q: The NHL has changed a lot over the past few seasons.  How do you think, as a player, would be different if you played in today's NHL versus the pre-lockout NHL?

It has changed and I, along with a lot of players from the past, would have to adjust to the new rules, but I felt no matter which way the game was played, players from the past, including myself, would do it.

Q: Since your retirement, the Devils have not been back to the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond, which is actually the longest stretch in franchise history without such a playoff run.  Why do you think the Devils have been unable to win in the playoffs in recent years?  What needs to be done for the Devils to make another Stanley Cup run?

It's very tough to win as we all know, and you cherish those great teams we had; I think because we had such a great defense and Marty was a big reason we were successful.  I don't really have a great answer to what needs to be done except play with heart and passion and develop within the system.  They need a little more depth to win.

Q: Since the 2005 lockout, the Devils seem to have moved away from each defensive pairing having a puck mover and a stay-at-home defenseman.  Why do you think that model has changed?  Is it all about the personnel or has the effectiveness of the Devils' old system declined in today's NHL?

I think that's because they just don't have the personnel we had back there.  Not many teams do.  You can't duplicate something if you don't have Scott Stevens,Scott Niedermeyer etc., so you have to find different options.

Q: Some fans believe that NHL referees have held a grudge against the Devils due to the infamous incidents of Jim Schoenfeld and Robbie Ftorek.  Did you ever feel that refs were being unfair to the Devils?  Do you think there's any truth to that today?

I don't really think refs hold a grudge, maybe for a game or two after, that's it.

Q: Do you think the Devils made the right decision by putting Adam Larsson right into the NHL lineup or do you think he should have developed in Albany for a season?

I believe Larsson was ready now, but because the D isn't as deep gave him a better opportunity right away.

Q: Now the big question: How important do you think it is for the Devils to re-sign Zach Parise?

They will do everything they can to re-sign Zach.  He is the heart and soul [of the Devils], but let's not forget and the business side too: so he has to want to be here as well.

Q: What's the best part of your job with MSG since you retired as a player?

Just still being involved in the game, talking hockey, which i'm so passionate about.

Q: Finally, have you ever thought about another hockey-related job, such as coaching or scouting?

The only thing that interests me is developing a team similar to a GM or along the line of President of an organization, which you're involved with a little bit of everything from player decisions to fan interaction!

Thanks again to Ken Daneyko for taking the time to do this!  It's nothing short of an honor to have such an icon of the Devils answer these questions.