In November 1987, Paul Coffey became the Pittsburgh Penguins first significant addition since General Manager Eddie Johnston refused all offers to draft Mario Lemieux (1984). Lost in the excitement of acquiring Coffey, who was the most prolific defenseman of the era, from the Edmonton Oilers were players who were traded away, including center Dave Hannan.
Hannan was selected 196th overall by the Penguins in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft and cracked the lineup full-time in the 1982-1983 season. He collected 11 goals and 33 points in his rookie season and became a mainstay with the Penguins until the Coffey trade.
Hannan’s tenure with the Oilers was brief but fruitful. He returned to the Penguins for the 1988-1989 season (via waiver draft) with a Stanley Cup ring, after lifting the Cup with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, the previous spring.
Following his time in Pittsburgh, Hannan played for the Toronto Maple Leafs (1989-1992), Canadian Olympic Team (’91-92), Buffalo Sabres (1991-1996), Colorado (’95-’96) and Ottawa (’96-’97).
Hannan won his second Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, Joe Sakic and Petr Forsberg in 1996. He earned a silver medal with Team Canada in 1992 (pros didn’t compete in Olympics, yet. Hannan had to leave the NHL to play in international competition).
Hannan stacked an impressive 19-year career together, scoring 114 goals and 305 points in 841 games.
Rob Joncas: Can you describe the experience of donning the Canadian Jersey at the 92 Olympic Games and playing in the Gold Medal Game in front of the Hometown crowd?
Dave Hannan: It was an awesome experience to play in that game. It was a very close game. We had two 5-on-3 power plays in the game but unfortunately didn’t capitalize on them. We were so close to winning the GOLD!
RJ: Part b) of that question – is it a complicated process for a “Tournament team” to develop cohesion in such short order?
DH: Yes, somewhat difficult. For the most part, the majority of the team was together for a year. There were added players at the end including myself. I was with the team for two weeks prior to the start, so that helped.
RJ: Do you feel NHL players should be able to participate in the Olympic Games?
DH: Tough question. As the Olympics has always had amateur athletes, I always appreciated how hard athletes trained for years to participate in the Olympics. As TV and ratings have had a huge impact people want to see the very best athletes in the games. I always say this: I truly am grateful that I had the chance to participate in the Olympic games. And I also know that I wouldn’t have had the chance if the NHL sent their very best players.
RJ: You were part of arguably one of the most significant trades in Edmonton/Pittsburgh history(Paul Coffey Trade). What do you feel were some of the critical differences between the two franchises in terms locker room, leadership styles and overall functioning of the franchises?
DH: Having played with the some of the best players in the NHL at that time had a huge impact on my game and also learning how important that you need everyone on a team to win the Stanley Cup.
RJ: You were drafted by the Penguins at the 1981 NHL Draft, can you take us back to that day and describe that experience for us and were you present at the Forum the Day of the Draft.
DH: Great Day. I thought I might be drafted and eventually was in the 10th round to the Penguins. At least then I knew I had a chance to make the NHL through hard work and determination.
RJ: Please share any special memories of your time with the Penguins
DH: As I started early in my career playing for the Penguins I loved the Organization, my teammates, the FANS. Even when I got traded, my wife and I knew that we would make Pittsburgh our home after I retired from the NHL. Our three kids were born here, Jeff, Courtney, and Patrick.
We all are Pittsburghers.
RJ: Can you take us back to April 27, 1994, When you scored a goal in the 4th Overtime against Martin Brodeur. Given the storied career, he put together does that goal hold more significance for you and where does it rate on your achievements?
DH: A great game to be a part of and of course scored the game-winner. Top 3 achievements in my career. I actually had a lot of Grade a chances in that game. Both goalies, Hasek and Brodeur were unreal in the nets. I was fortunate to get my stick on the puck and whipped a backhand that got past Brodeur. I didn’t score that much in the NHL, but this was one of my biggest!. PS, I lost 14 lbs in that game. I need to play that game again to help me now! HAHA.
RJ: When the Sabres traded you to Avalanche. Did you assume that you were acquired to add some much-needed Play-off acumen to the franchise and did you anticipate a deep playoff run?
DH: Yes. The Avalanche organization was great. I know my role, and they know that I had the leadership from my experience to help them take a run at the Stanley Cup. It worked out great. Great teammates. Great Organization from top to Bottom.
RJ: With that what were some of the most prominent lessons you learned from your first Stanley Cup and second?
DH: The first cup you can’t imagine that you might win it. The biggest lesson you learn is that it takes a “TEAM” to win it. Every superstar including Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux will tell you that you need all 24 guys to win the Cup.
RJ: What do you feel were some of the biggest changes to the game were during your 841 Game Career?
DH: I always say that when I played, it was a tougher game. Lot’s of clutching and grabbing that took the speed out of the game. The game is much faster now. Players are bigger and stronger. Gosh, the goalies are 6’4” and are well-conditioned athletes.
RJ: Most Painful injury?
DH: Broken Big toe. Happened in the playoffs against the Boston Bruins. Blocked a Ray Bourgue slap shot. I had to get a needle the rest of the playoffs. Never missed a game. Had to wear flip flops all summer to let it heal.
RJ: First hockey memory?
DH: I received a Montreal Canadians Jersey for Christmas. They were my favorite team growing up.
RJ: Strangest game of your career?
DH: Obviously, the 4 Overtime game that I scored the goal in.
RJ: Most Underrated teammates?
DH: Rod Buskas, still a good friend. He was tough and could move the puck.
RJ: Who were some of the veterans that you leaned upon for guidance?
DH: Randy Carlyle– he really helped me when I made the Pittsburgh Penguins.
RJ: Did you have any gameday superstitions?
Chicken and Spaghetti for pre-game meal. I never changed that meal ever for 16 years. Then a 2-hour nap before the game. WOW- I miss that now!
RJ: Who are some of the players you enjoy watching today?
DH: The Pens. Crosby, Malkin and the team. We are spoiled in Pittsburgh. They won the last 2 cups back to back. That is NOT easy. They have some pains this year, BUT all they want to do is make the playoffs and take a shot at 3 in a row!
RJ: What have you been up to since you retired?
DH: When I played with the salaries were not the same. It gave me a great start in life after Hockey. I got into Sales after my hockey career. I got into the Medical Device sector. Worked in sales for 10 years then got into Management. I am now the Director of Sales for Smith and Nephew in the Pittsburgh Market. We sell and manufacture artificial Hip and Knee product that surgeons use for Hip and Knee replacements.