By: Will Burchfield
Trevor Daley reached hockey’s summit each of the past two seasons with the Penguins. He wouldn’t have signed with the Red Wings if he thought he’d end up back at the bottom.
Detroit’s newest defenseman resists the notion that the team is rebuilding — due in part, no doubt, to his conversations with GM Ken Holland.
“I don’t really think rebuilding is the right word to use. And if it is, just because you’re in a rebuild doesn’t mean you can’t win, if that’s the way that they’re going,” Daley told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. “But Detroit just made a lot of sense, I like the talks I had with Kenny. I thought that it was a good fit for me and my family.”
The Red Wings inked Daley to a three-year, $9.5 million contract. He’ll add some much needed mobility and puck-moving skills to the blueline. The team’s defensive unit has some key question marks, including the health of both Niklas Kronwall and Ryan Sproul, but Daley likes its potential.
“A great group, I think we’re well balanced,” he said. “I’ll go back to you talking about a rebuild. There’s so much parity in the game today, anybody can win on any given night and you’ve got 82 games to give yourselves a chance. Once you get in (to the playoffs), who knows what could happen?
“Depth is a big part of going a long way because there’s injuries and you need guys to come in and fill spots and get the job done, and I think our d-core is filled with a ton of depth.”
Holland shares Daley’s belief that anything is possible once a team qualifies for the playoffs. It’s a big reason why the GM is so opposed to a full-scale rebuild. He intends to ice a competitive team next season and honor the organization’s winning tradition, something he stressed to Daley during the recruiting process in free agency.
“After hearing where they thought their team was at and where they think it can get to, it was easy for me to make a decision,” Daley said. “For a long time I’ve played against Detroit. With Dallas we had a pretty good rivalry with them and ever since I came into this league Detroit has set the mark of where a team should be.
“Their playoff history, their Stanley cups, the history of Detroit — for me it was a no-brainer to be a part of what they’re trying to do and trying to get back to. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Daley spent the first 11 years of his career with the Stars. He fondly remembers his trips to The Joe, but said the opportunity to play in the new Little Caesars Arena was another factor in his decision to sign with the Wings.
“I’m gonna miss the Joe, what an amazing building that was. It was always fun to go in there. But these new buildings are beautiful, and it’s obviously exciting for the teams and the city,” Daley said. “I know that when I was talking with Kenny, that was brought up. A new building means a new dressing room and new accommodations for the players — we get excited about stuff like that, too.”
As excited as he is to spend some time in the new dressing room, so is he eager to meet the guys inside it.
“The group that’s in that locker room is a real good group I’ve been told. By talking to some guys that have been in that locker room and guys that are in that locker room, they have nothing but great things to say about it,” said Daley, who himself is considered one of the best off-ice personalities in the league.
Lastly, Daley said, he was drawn to Detroit for the chance to don the colors of an Original Six team.
“When you’re a hockey player and you give as much to the game as we do, it’s pretty cool to play for a team like Detroit or Toronto or Montreal. Those are obviously amazing franchises. When you’re given the opportunity I think you gotta appreciate the history and what Detroit has done in this game,” Daley said.