Danis Excited For Second Stint With Devils
A quick glance at Yann Danis’ career statistics is all it takes to understand what makes him so valuable to a hockey club. Entering his 13th season, the 34-year-old veteran has been a model of consistency in the professional game.
A graduate of Brown University in the early 2000s, the undrafted Danis parlayed his stellar college hockey career into a contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
To stay consistent over the years, he has made a habit of always changing and improving. The position is radically different compared to what he was taught while growing up.
“You’re learning every day, it doesn’t matter if you’re a twenty year old rookie or even at my age now. The game has evolved a lot, especially as goalies. When I first came in, it was the ‘butterfly’ era. Everybody would just go down and block, that’s all that you saw. Now it’s evolved and people realized that you can’t do that because you’ll get beat up high.”
At 5-foot-11, Danis isn’t a prototypical over-sized goalie. The position has been developed over the last decade with tall goaltenders in mind, and adapting has been an ongoing challenge for him.
“You have to be more patient. I think that’s the main thing that’s allowed me to stay consistent. With experience, I feel like I’m a lot more patient. I let the puck come to me a lot more, and I don’t try to anticipate as much. I try to read the plays a little bit better.”
“I have to stay aggressive. You see bigger guys that stay deep in their net, and I don’t know how they stop the puck. There’s no way I’d be able to do that. My technique has definitely helped me stay at the level I’ve been playing at.”
The native of Saint-Jérôme, Quebec will be back with the New Jersey Devils organization in 2015-2016 – a team that he is familiar with since he was Martin Brodeur’s backup for the 2009-2010 season.
He’s likely to start the season in Albany with their AHL affiliate, where he will be partnered with the much younger Scott Wedgewood.
“I’ve had the same role for a while. I know what it’s going to be, as an older guy. I’ll try to help out any way I can with Wedgewood.”
“If something comes up in the NHL, they have a guy that has played a few games and has some experience.”
Although there is a large age gap between Danis and Wedgewood, there is some familiarity between the two goaltenders. They both work with the same coach in the offseason, Sudarshan “Sudsie” Maharaj, who he met while with the New York Islanders. Maharaj is now a consultant for the Anaheim Ducks organization, and coaches out of Toronto.
“I usually go to Toronto and spend some time with Sudsie in August, who works with Wedgewood as well, so I skate with him a few times each summer.”
Both goaltenders are also similarly shorter-than-average, so Danis was likely brought in to set a veteran example for Wedgewood, and to show that it is possible to have a long and successful career as a smaller goaltender by today’s standards.
A lot has changed since his first stint with New Jersey. The game has evolved, which includes changes in his own style – but the biggest change of all may be to the face of the franchise. Cory Schneider is now the man behind the mask with the big club, not Martin Brodeur.
The future hall-of-famer has taken on a new position as the Assistant GM for the St. Louis Blues, and as a friend, Danis is excited to see him embark on the next chapter of his career.
“When you think New Jersey Devils, you think Marty Brodeur. He’s done everything. We’ve stayed in touch, and our sons are friends so we see each other in the summer. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
“If he can be half as successful as a GM as he was as a player, he’ll be fine.”
A few hours after he signed on with the Devils, he received a call from the team’s new goaltending consultant Scott Clemmensen. Later, he took to Twitter to share a blast from the past:
Good thing I kept this old thing! pic.twitter.com/Eqc7XjqWYo
— Yann Danis (@ydanis35) July 4, 2015
“I try to keep all of my masks. They’re great souvenirs, I still have all of my masks from my career.”
“I’m going to do something different this year. My oldest son is six, and he’s really into hockey and goalies now. He’ll do drawings and paintings of masks, so I’ll have him help me this year and see what he can come up with.”
And, like father like son, you can expect to see his oldest boy in a crease near you.
“He really wants to be a goalie. Last Christmas I got him goalie equipment, and we’ve been out a few times.”
“Mom wasn’t too excited. I think if she had a choice she would prefer if he was forward or defenceman, but she understands. She says now I’m going to understand how she feels every time I play.”
Danis may not continue to play until he’s 42 like his good friend Martin Brodeur, but he is still as consistent as ever, and is showing no signs of slowing down.