For 19 seasons, Ken Daneyko patrolled the Devils’ blueline with a passion and will to succeed that very few players possessed. Now, in his first year as the Devils’ color commentator on MSG and MSG Plus broadcasts, he is bringing those same qualities to the broadcasting booth.
Last season, Daneyko actually filled in for Chico Resch on a few occasions as a trial for both the fans and himself to get acclimated to his new post. He seemed more tentative on those sessions behind the microphone with play-by-play man Steve Cangiaolosi, almost as if he was trying too hard not to mess up a pronunciation of a name to let his knowledge flow seamlessly. But now, in just a few games, Dano has really made the transition to the booth look very easy.
Although Daneyko had been working as the studio analyst for the Devils for a few years now, providing analysis for a live hockey game has its own special kinds of challenges. But early on, Daneyko has shown an almost natural talent for adjusting. Early in the season, he had moments when it was clear that he was still “training” for his new job. But now, one and a half months into the season, Daneyko has really eased into the role as Devils color commentator.
Anyone who watched Ken Daneyko play hockey for even one shift would not be surprised by this. The three-time Stanley Cup champ and 2000 Bill Masterton Trophy winner (for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey) did not back down from a challenge easily. His 2,516 penalty minutes showed that gritty attitude very clearly. But what speaks to those attributes better is his overcoming of alcoholism in the late-1990s. Hockey fans everywhere already knew Ken Daneyko was tough-as-nails on the ice, but in his perseverance through, and defeating of alcoholism through rehab and with the support of Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello and then-owner Dr. John McMullen, it showed that Ken Daneyko was also a tough-willed man off the ice. Anything he puts his mind to, it seems Daneyko can accomplish.
Daneyko has brought this attitude to his commentating. He is not a “homer” and will call out the Devils if he sees something they are doing wrong just as much as he would their opponents. In the four games from Tuesday, November 4 to Monday, November 10, the Devils have not played well (they dropped a home-and-home series against St. Louis [both games lost by one goal], lost in Detroit and were defeated in Beantown by the Bruins) and Daneyko has stated on TV when he sees their coverage breaking down on the penalty kill (something that has happened quite a lot this season, as the Devils have one of the worst PK percentages in the league), or when they get caught taking a bad penalty (something they have done a lot of over the course of this young season). The Devils season over the last week has taken a downturn and it has not been pretty. But Daneyko’s commentary has remained steady and fair. His style has really meshed well with Cangialosi’s play-by-play style and the two have become as nice to listen to as Doc and Chico or Cangialosi and Chico. All three teams have had their own unique voice and Cangialosi and Daneyko are no different.
One of Daneyko’s best attributes is that he is able to give insight into the more recent Devils teams. While Chico certainly had a connection to the 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup championship teams (he was doing TV color commentary by then), it is unique to hear directly from a guy who was winning the battles on the ice for the Devils at the time. This is not to disparage Chico in any way (Chico was a Stanley Cup champion himself with the Islanders in 1980) but rather to highlight that Daneyko was a Devils homegrown Stanley Cup champion and is now able to give his thoughts on the current team as he compares them to his former teams (which do include non-Stanley Cup champions – Daneyko’s career did encompass 19 seasons from 1983-84 to 2002-03 after all). Daneyko is the right man for the job because he has seen it all. He was there at the beginning of the Devils’ tenure in New Jersey, was one of the team’s first draft picks in their new locale, and has been at the bottom of the standings and at the top of the heap and everywhere in between. Nobody embodies the Devils better and nobody is more qualified to do what he does than Ken Daneyko, and nobody could have made as quick an adjustment to the booth as “Mr. Devil” could.
Some other notes from around the Devils:
- Although the Devils will face the Minnesota Wild on November 11 for “Military Appreciation Night” at The Rock, former Devil Zach Parise will not be playing due to a concussion. He will make the trip with the Wild to New Jersey, however.
- Mike Cammalleri returned to the lineup against Boston and had two assists.
- Also against Boston, Jaromir Jagr’s goal in the second period against his former team tied him with Mike Gartner for sixth place on the NHL goal scoring list with 708.
- Martin Havlat, who has missed the last nine games with what the team is calling a “lower body injury” may return against Minnesota, although this is not confirmed.
- The Devils were swept by St. Louis in a home-and-home series the week prior, losing both games by one goal. In their four game losing streak, the Devils have been outscored 13-7.
- Cory Schneider has started all 15 of the Devils games to November 10, the Devils are the only team in the NHL to not have started their backup through the first month-and-a-half of the season. Backup Keith Kinkaid is looking to start his first NHL game, although he has logged two periods of relief work this season (against St. Louis on November 6 and Detroit on November 7).