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- Canadian ice hockey player
- American ice hockey player
The Sunshine State is where people come to retire.
Trevor Daley is doing the opposite. For a couple of days anyway.
The 38-year-old former NHL defenseman came out of retirement Thursday, signing with the Florida Everblades and was scheduled to take the ice for Friday and Saturday's games against South Carolina at Hertz Arena.
Daley retired after playing with the Detroit Red Wings in 2019-2020, and was hired as a hockey operations adviser to then-Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford.
"It's a great opportunity to give back a little bit to the community here, and also share it with my family too," said Daley, a new Fort Myers Beach resident, after Friday morning's pregame skate. "It's been a while since they've seen me play in any type of a game.
"We're new to the area. You can't get much better than live down here, and then I get to play a little hockey on the weekend, so why not?"
In case you missed it: ECHL hockey: Orlando beats Everblades in last game of 2021 at Hertz Arena
Daley isn't the only old newcomer for Florida this weekend.
Head coach Brad Ralph, just coming off his 500th career coaching victory and then his 250th with the Blades, is in COVID-19 protocols, along with assistant coach Jesse Kallechy. So Greg Poss, who won a Kelly Cup as Blades head coach in 2012 during his six seasons, is coaching the team along with former Everblades star Ernie Hartlieb as an assistant.
"I was just so excited," said Poss, who last coached with Red Bull Salzburg in 2018-19 and is a mental performance sports coach living in Fort Myers now. "Anything I can do to help the organization that's done so much for me."
It was Hartlieb who called Daley and asked if he would play.
"When the Mayor calls, I guess you've got to come calling," Daley joked, referring to Hartlieb by a nickname. "He gave me a call and asked if I would help the team out here, and it's not so often anymore in my days anybody calls me and asks me to play hockey anymore."
But Daley's signing spread quickly among the hockey world.
"He's been getting a million phone calls from his agent, other teams asking what he's doing," Hartlieb said.
"I'm excited for the weekend opportunity only," Daley stressed.
Daley will be back at his Penguins job Monday. He spends a lot of time working remotely in Fort Myers Beach, but a couple of days a month goes to work with the Penguins' prospects.
"For the most part I'm here working out of here," he said. "I love what I do. It's a lot of fun. You get to work with young guys and give back and help them do what you did. I love my day job."
Hartlieb has come out of his retirement a few times to help out when the Blades have been shorthanded due to roster call-ups, so when he saw missed calls from Ralph and Blades general manager Craig Brush, he figured that's what they wanted.
"I got pretty excited," he said. "When I called Craig back, I said 'Do you need me to play?'"
Instead, Hartlieb gets to add another line to his Everblades resumé. He said he's done everything from sell tickets, to be one of the franchise's top players, to be a member of their broadcast team. He also played in Hertz Arena in roller hockey tournaments.
"It's a great opportunity to come back and be part of the Everblades," he said. "It's been a fun day here."
Poss and Hartlieb know they are just keeping the seat warm for Ralph, and they're fine with that, especially if they can add a couple of wins this weekend.
"The boys know what they have to do," Hartlieb said. "They know the system."
Daley won Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 with the Penguins, although he did not play in the 2016 Final due to a broken ankle. He's remembered as being the first player that captain Sidney Crosby handed the Cup, because Crosby knew that Daley's mother was battling cancer. She died nine days later.
Daley was a second-round pick by the Dallas Stars in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, and played with the Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, Penguins, and Red Wings. He's played 1,058 regular-season NHL games.
"It's really good of him to do that," Brush said. "Obviously his career numbers speak for themselves. I think he's going to have some fun with us. He's a great guy and a great influence in our room.'
"I hope it's going to be a big boost for us tonight. You never can have too many Stanley Cup winners in your room."
Daley already is familiar with many of the players on the Everblades, who are down three players due to COVID-19 protocols, but got two others back from AHL affiliate Milwaukee on Friday morning.
"It's a good group of guys," Daley said. "I actually got to meet some of the guys over the summertime. I was just trying to stay in shape and not get too out of shape. It's been good. It's a cool experience."
Blades defenseman Ben Masella is going to enjoy playing with Daley.
"Trevor's a beauty," he said. "He's such a good guy. He's been great in the locker room with everybody, too. Some of us were lucky enough to skate with him once or twice in the summer so we know what he's all about. He brings that experience and he's like one of the boys, he fits right in perfectly."
"I wish I could tell you what you're going to get tonight," Daley said. "I have no idea, but I'm excited about the opportunity."
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at email@example.com. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/
This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Former NHL defenseman Trevor Daley comes out of retirement with Blades for a weekend