Red Wings get big dose of character, talent with Trevor Daley

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Defenseman Trevor Daley skates the puck past his teammates during drills Friday.

Traverse City – To get a little insight into who new Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley is, you just had to listen to what Daley did when it was his day to host the Stanley Cup over the summer.

Daley was part of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ last two Stanley Cup-winning teams, before signing with the Red Wings July 1 as an unrestricted free agent.

This summer, while in Toronto, Daley started the day with his 8-year-old son taking the Stanley Cup to a hockey school.

“Surprised some kids,” Daley said.

Then, Daley took his wife and two children to the grave of his mother Trudy.

The year before, Trudy died of cancer at age 51, just a few days after Daley won his first Stanley Cup with the Penguins.

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Daley didn’t play in the 2016 series against San Jose because of an ankle injury. But captain Sidney Crosby handed the Cup first to Daley, which was a special moment back in Toronto for Trudy, who was staging a fierce fight of her own.

“It was just me and my family and we sat there and enjoyed it,” said Daley, of his time at his mother’s grave. “I told them a little bit about my childhood and where I grew up. (The cemetery) was right across the street where I grew up.

“That was pretty special. I was excited I was able to do that.”

The Red Wings pegged Daley, 32, as their No. 1 target in free agency and were pleased to sign him to a three-year, $9.5 million contract.

The professionalism, character and poise, and what Daley can offer on and off the ice, were all positives.

More than a few people in the organization also said Daley is a high-character person.

And a talented hockey player.

“Daley is going to help us a lot,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said.

Coach Jeff Blashill has Daley paired with Danny DeKeyser as the top defensive unit, the two getting a lot of ice time Friday during drills and light scrimmaging, getting to know each other’s tendencies.

“For me and DK it’s good to get a feel for each other,” Daley said. “Where we like to be out there, and what we like to do, and get a chance to talk.

“It helps a lot.

“We talked in the summer; we knew it was a possibility being a (defensive) pairing. So I did a little bit of thinking about it and (learning) the style he likes to play. We complement each other. We just want to get a good feel for each other.”

For his part, DeKeyser is excited about the opportunity to play with the smooth-skating Daley.

“He’s a great skater, he moves the puck really well,” DeKeyser said. “Me and him together, we can get back in the D-zone and get the puck out and get it to the forwards, jump into the play and provide some offense, and be solid in the D-zone.

“It’s a lot of pressure off for whoever is playing with him. Right now, it looks like maybe they’ll start us together, and that’s good for me.”

The arrival of Daley, said Blashill, will help all the defensemen on the Red Wings’ roster.

“(Daley is) a good defenseman who can play top-four minutes,” Blashill said. “The more guys you have like that, it can help can loosen the load.”

There were several teams aggressively pursuing Daley in free agency, but the Red Wings were an organization he focused on.

“I had a lot of respect for these guys as an opponent,” Daley said. “I’m pretty honored to be a part of it. I’m excited.

“This has always been the organization that every team tried to copycat. You see what Chicago has done; Chicago followed Detroit. (Detroit) was the first team to play this (flowing offensive) style. They’ve always been the poster child of today’s style of game.

“I have a lot of respect for this organization and what they’ve done and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

Twitter @tkulfan