Trevor Daley was an offensive-minded defenseman, especially last year when he scored a career-best 16 goals in what turned out to be his final season with the Dallas Stars.
Will that be his role with the Blackhawks? Or will he be expected to be more of a defensive-minded defenseman for a team that puts that element first? Whatever the task, Daley’s willing to do it.
“I’m coming on to a team that just won a Cup. I’m looking to fit in, follow their lead and listen because I want to win one with them,” Daley said via conference call on Monday. “I’m willing to do whatever I’m supposed to do."
“When I sit down with Joel and figure that out or if it’s just let your game come to it, either way, I’m excited about the opportunity I’m getting here,” Daley said. “And I’ll try to take full advantage of it.”
Daley and Ryan Garbutt, both acquired by the Blackhawks in the deal that sent Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns to Dallas, echoed the same sentiment: they’ll do what they’re told to do with their new team. That’s a mantra most have taken when they’ve joined the Blackhawks in recent years. From these two to Brad Richards to Antoine Vermette, joining an established team like the Blackhawks means you may or may not play the same role you’ve had previously. And that’s just fine with Daley and Garbutt.
“Any time you change teams you think, where do you fit in?” Garbutt said. “Coming onto a team like the Hawks, with the pedigree they have, you just want to do whatever you can to fit in and play whatever role they want you to play.”
Daley underwent hip surgery in April but said he will be “ready to go on Day 1.” Indeed, the Blackhawks are a defense-first team; but general manager Stan Bowman, who talked of the deal on Friday night, liked the offensive edge Daley could lend to the blue line. He will join an established group on the Blackhawks’ blue line with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Blackhawks’ top four got extra work last spring, especially after Michal Rozsival was injured. That and the Blackhawks’ penchant for playing an up-tempo game are enticing for Daley.
“Both teams that were playing in the final… there was a lot of skill and they played a fast-paced game,” Daley said of the Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning. “That excites me because that’s the game I like to play.”
Garbutt, meanwhile, adds some sandpaper to a team that already has a few guys contributing that, Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins among them. If Garbutt just adds to that or develops a few new wrinkles to his game – the Blackhawks always like players willing to expand their roles – he’ll do so.
“They play a high-speed game with a lot of offense but they take care of their own zone,” Garbutt said. “I think of myself as someone who can play both ends of the rink. I’ll definitely work hard every night. I see guys who play hard, 100 percent every night; that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to learning from the group and I can’t wait to get started.”
Some who have joined the Blackhawks in recent years have learned a common theme: playing your game is encouraged but accepting a different role is sometimes necessary. It’s not always easy. But for a chance to win the Cup, several have rolled with the changes with great results. Daley and Garbutt will look to do the same thing.
“I get to go play for the best team in hockey, go watch some future hall of famers play hockey and play with them on the same team,” Daley said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’ll just try to take advantage of it and run with it.”