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.. Daneyko Was There And Has Remained

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Matt Loughlin

All those years ago, Daneyko was there ... and has remained


Apr 11, 2003

It happened during an otherwise inconsequential shift in the second period Wednesday. As the Devils played in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round playoff series with the Boston Bruins, one observer looked at New Jersey's defense and marveled, "Isn't it amazing to still see Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko out there?"

It only seems like the two of them have been around forever- one, Stevens, representing the Devils' heart, and the other, Daneyko, representing their soul. Since the 1991-92 season when Stevens was acquired by the Devils, each has played in every Devils playoff game. But it is Daneyko who lays claim as the only player to have appeared in every Devils playoff game in history, 163 in all. When Daneyko skated in the Devils first playoff game on April 6th, 1988 against the Islanders, he didn't realize what he had started.

"I don't think anybody imagines something like that," said Daneyko. "You just dream of playing in your first NHL game, and all of a sudden, you're getting to the playoffs where it really means something. Fortunately, I was able to do that back in 1988, and lo and behold, it's 2003, and I'm still here."

Wiser, but no less excited: "I get nervous like a little kid. It's a good nervous. In 1988, I was more nervous about how I was going to play. Now it's more nervous energy where I'm fired up and ready to play. In the last week or so, the butterflies started churning and you start to think this is what it's all about, competing for a championship and win the Stanley Cup."

Daneyko is a throw-back defenseman. His game has no pizzazz, he's rarely going to make the highlight reels, but his grit and determination has won him admiration throughout the league, but more importantly, inside the Devils' dressing room.

"You have to have a lot of respect for a guy like that," says Martin Brodeur. "He's been around so long and meant so much to this organization."

Daneyko's presence provides a level of comfort for Brodeur. "You know he's going to take care of business around you. He keeps his game real simple, and in the playoffs, that's where success comes from. He takes no chances- he's either clearing the puck, or clearing someone out from my crease."

Ken turns 39 on April 17th, and knows his streak may soon come to an end. The Devils have eight defensemen on their roster. Only six of them will play on any given night. Pat Burns has elected to play Daneyko for now, basing his decision on what he saw in the final few weeks of the season, and not on sentimental reasons. Richard Smehlik and Tommy Albelin, healthy scratches in Game 1, wait in the wings. Daneyko is prepared for whatever lies ahead.

"Obviously, I'm very happy and pleased with the decision," claims Daneyko,"but the streak doesn't mean a whole lot to me. I'm proud to have played in every playoff game, but it's all about winning now. We have a great defense here, and we're going to need all of us down the stretch."

The Devils 164th playoff game in their history takes place on Friday. It's good that someone will be overheard marveling that Ken Daneyko is still out there playing well after all these years.

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