February 2013

5 Minutes with Ken Daneyko

February 19, 2013 – In late December, I spent an afternoon with former New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko, a hard-nosed hockey player, who played for the Devils for his entire 20-year career.

Off the ice, Daneyko is charismatic, funny and warm. I have no doubt that he was as tough as they come on the ice, but during the time we spent together at Roots Steak House and Florez Tobacconist cigar club in Summit, New Jersey, Daneyko was the ultimate nice guy.

I interviewed Daneyko for a “5 Minutes with…” feature, which will be published in the May Issue of Yankees Magazine, along with a piece on Daneyko’s long-time teammate, Martin Brodeur (see blog entry above).

After the New Jersey Devils brought the Stanley Cup to Yankee Stadium and to the Staten Island Yankees home ballpark in 2003, I quickly became interested in learning more about the many locations the trophy has been taken to (see photo below with Daneyko and I in the Staten Island Yankees home clubhouse in 2003). Unlike in the other major sports leagues, where a new championship trophy is given out each season, the NHL has given out the same Stanley Cup for decades. Additionally, each member of Stanley Cup winning teams is permitted to take the cup to a location of his choice for one day.

I asked Daneyko where he took the trophy after each of the championships he won with the Devils.

“I made Jersey my home from day one,” said Daneyko, who also confessed that he didn’t know where New Jersey was located when he was drafted by the Devils in 1982. “From the time I was 19, my life was here [in New Jersey]. I kept the cup here. I shared it with everyone I could in the state of Jersey.

“I brought the cup to a children’s hospital and then down the Jersey Shore,” Daneyko continued. “More than 7,000 people showed up to see it on the boardwalk. After we won it for the second time, I had a huge party at the restaurant I owned at that time, and a few thousand people came by, including Yogi Berra. That was very special. After the third championship, I had a party at my house, and 1,500 people came through my door. I didn’t know half of them, but I didn’t care.”

The rest of the interview will be published in the May Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III



5 Minutes with Keith Byars

February 19, 2013 – In addition to interviewing Jorge Posada at Bucky Dent’s golf outing in Lake Worth, Florida, I also spoke with former NFL fullback Keith Byars.

Byars became a star for the Ohio State Buckeyes before playing for four NFL teams during a 13-year pro career.

When Byars was with the Miami Dolphins, he etched his name in the team’s record book. On a snow-covered field at the old Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day of 1993, Byars raced 77 yards for a touchdown. To this day, no Miami Dolphin has recorded a longer run.

“I don’t think it’s snowed in Dallas since then,” Byars said. “I got a great block from [former Miami Dolphins tight end] Keith Jackson. I made a move to make one of their linebackers miss me, and all I saw was snow. That’s when I turned back into the track star I was in high school. I didn’t want to get caught from behind, and fortunately, I was able to outrun everyone. I had always taken short steps, and that was perfect for those weather conditions.

As great as the run was, Byars made the moment even more special when he reached the end zone. What I will also remember from that game — which I watched from my parents’ home in New Jersey — is that Byars made an angel in the snow.

“I just wanted to make it memorable,” Byars said. “I grew up in Ohio where we spent a lot of time playing in the snow. That wasn’t the first snow angel I ever made. When I woke up that morning, I was happy it was snowing in Dallas, because that’s what I grew up playing football in.”

Lastly, I asked Byars about Bucky Dent’s efforts in raising funds for the Delray Beach American Little League. The former Yankees shortstop has literally kept the league in business for nearly three decades by donating the funds from each of the twenty-nine annual golf outings he has hosted.

“I’ve coached Little League baseball in Delray Beach for a few years, and the proceeds from Bucky’s events make it possible for those kids to play,” Byars said. “Bucky does a tremendous job of helping out the kids in this area. He’s a great guy, and I’m happy to be here to support his efforts.

The rest of the interview with Byars will be published in Yankees Magazine later this season.

–Alfred Santasiere III