Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 40
The Stanley Cup Journal

(September 10, 2003) — "I always knew this day would come. Dreams do come true, because I've lived one for the past twenty years!"

With that statement on Friday, July 11, Ken Daneyko ended an 18-year NHL career spent entirely with the New Jersey Devils organization. His 1,283 regular season games with New Jersey rank him fourth all-time on the NHL's list of career games played with a single team. Only Alex Delvecchio with the Red Wings (1,549), Stan Mikita of the Hawks (1,394) and Detroit's Steve Yzerman (1,378 as of the end of the 2002-2003 season) have totals that exceed those of the Devils' Daneyko.

Ken Daneyko visits the Franklin Bank where he serves as a board of director.
At the time of Daneyko's retirement, New Jersey Devils' president and general manager, Lou Lamoriello, said, "Ken Daneyko is an individual who symbolizes the character of our entire organization. When you look at his career — his loyalty, work ethic, toughness and commitment represent what the New Jersey Devils are all about. We look forward to his continued involvement with our organization."

As tribute to his tenure and loyalty to the New Jersey Devils' organization, Daneyko was the final player to be awarded a day with the Stanley Cup, commemorating the 2003 Stanley Cup championship. A television crew from the 'Best Damn Sports Show Period' was on hand all day to chronicle Ken's every move. The television show, hosted by actor Tom Arnold, addresses topical sports stories in a candid but often hilarious manner, and following the Cup around made for some great TV.

Saturday, September 6 began with one of the members of the board at the Franklin Bank in Nutley, New Jersey making a very special deposit. Ken Daneyko is that director, as he sits on the board of the privately-owned financial institution. Daneyko signed autographs and posed for photos with the Stanley Cup at the bank for close to three hours. And like with any good financial institution, the interest definitely grew at this local bank!

The newly-retired Devil was a big hit with the locals when he brought the Stanley Cup, as promised, to the Township of Nutley, New Jersey.
At nine o'clock, Ken took the Cup to the Owens Park Sports Complex to meet local hockey fans. "I made a promise to you in 2000 that if the Devils won the Stanley Cup again, I'd bring it to Nutley," Daneyko told Peter Scarpelli, Mayor of the Township of Nutley. Ken made good on his promise and 500 locals were delighted that he did. Nutley, through its history, has boasted being the home of celebrities like Annie Oakley and Martha Stewart, but on Saturday, September 6, no one in the township's long history came close to Ken Daneyko in local popularity.

On next to the Nutley Police Department, where the television crew had Daneyko pretend to be locked up in a cell with a hockey fan wearing a New York Rangers' sweater. Although a good sport, Ken would likely have preferred to chew tinfoil or stick pins in his eyes. Or face fellow Windsor, Ontario native, Bob Probert, in a no holds barred, free-for-all.

Hockey players have been known to hang around places with bars, but this is ridiculous! In a segment for the TV show, 'Best Damn Sports Show Period,' Ken was locked up in a New Jersey jail with the Stanley Cup. He was released seconds after this shot -- honestly!
Ken next took the Stanley Cup to the Panico Salon and Spa in West Caldwell, New Jersey. The salon is owned by Daneyko's brother-in-law, Jack, who welcomed Ken back. While there, Ken got a massage. Unexpectedly, while the Devils' veteran was in the salon, New Jersey team captain Scott Stevens stopped by to get his hair cut.

Afterwards, the relaxed Daneyko popped in to visit Michael Cuozzo at Caldwell Toyota. Through the years, Ken has driven three or four vehicles from Caldwell, and wanted to thank the dealership for their support. It was 1:30, and Daneyko posed for photographs with the Cup and signed autographs for an hour before he had to be on his way once again.

Although just mid-afternoon, it had already been a long day, and Kenny was pleased to arrive home. Ken and his wife JonnaLyn, their daughter Taylor Lyn and son Shane recently moved to a beautiful home in nearby Mendham, New Jersey, and on this beautiful Saturday, the Daneykos hosted a party for a thousand friends, family and business acquaintances. A tent was set up in the yard, and a separate area was isolated for kids. Caterers set up tables loaded with chicken wings, pasta, salads and fruit for the celebrating guests.

After an eventful day, Ken could hardly wait to get back to his Mendham home and climb into bed with his special partner.
At 10:30 that night, Ken drove the Stanley Cup over to Staten Island and visited the Molesi Club. The owner, a friend of Kenny's, had fifty or so friends there, and Daneyko was more than happy to chat with them and get his photo taken with the guests and the Stanley Cup. The day, which began at 6AM, concluded with Ken arriving back in his driveway at 2:00 early Sunday morning.

It was a day of celebration for Ken Daneyko, but it had a touch of melancholy, too. "I'm going to miss it. In fact, I'll miss it a lot," Ken nodded as he spoke about his retirement and reflected on the game he loves so much. "This is the way I wanted to go out. The game never cheated me and I didn't want to cheat the game." Daneyko, who was born in Windsor, Ontario but moved with his family to Edmonton, Alberta when he was seven, is the last of the original New Jersey Devils. The franchise had concluded its run as the Colorado Rockies in the spring of 1982 and was preparing for its reincarnation as the New Jersey Devils when Ken Daneyko was selected eighteenth overall in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. Ken debuted with the Devils during the 1983-84 season, and became a regular in 1986-87. Through 1,283 regular season games and 175 playoff games, all as a Devil, Ken Daneyko helped lead the franchise to three Stanley Cup celebrations. In a move that illustrates the class of the New Jersey Devils organization, Daneyko, who had not played in the final versus the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, was inserted into Game 7, and was an active participant as those last sweet seconds evaporated on the scoreboard. "I won the very last game I ever played," Ken smiles. "It's good to go out on a high note."

After the retirement announcement, Ken Daneyko was asked to continue his career with the Devils, and will work in community relations for the organization. "I'm looking forward to it," stated the NHL's Masterton Trophy recipient in 2000. The trophy is awarded for perseverance and dedication to hockey, something Daneyko knows all too well about. "Throughout my career, I understood my role. I knew I wasn't the most talented guy in the world." But no one ever worked as hard or was as dedicated to his team as Ken Daneyko.

Since his retirement, Daneyko played in his first New Jersey Devils alumni game, and scored four goals. "Maybe I shouldn't have retired," Ken laughed. More recently, the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, announced that they would sign Daneyko to a one-game contract, allowing him to play in a contest versus the Pennsylvania Road Warriors. Chris Bryan, the Bears' general manager, welcomed Daneyko's participation, stating, "We are excited to provide the special opportunity to one of New Jersey's most popular athletes!" Ken countered, "Being such a big baseball fan, I am honoured to be part of this team, even if it is just for one day."

John MacLean, former Devils' star, earned a day with the Stanley Cup after serving as an assistant coach to Pat Burns this past season, and you'll read about his adventures Friday in Stanley Cup Journal.

Kevin Shea, a Windsor native like Ken Daneyko, continues to write about hockey in spite of calls for his immediate retirement.

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