Daryl Stanley

I remember when the Vancouver Canucks acquired Daryl Stanley quite clearly. The team traded a young goalie named Wendell Young and a draft pick for Stanley and goalie Darren Jensen.

Stanley's role was quickly obvious. He was acquired to be a tough guy, a role he had accepted since his junior hockey days in New Westminster.

Stanley grew up in small town Manitoba, loving the great outdoors as much as hockey. Because he was big and physical, he caught the eye of Punch McLean's New Westminster Bruins. Stanley would play for 2 years in BC's Lower Mainland and finish his junior career with a season in Saskatoon, but he never garnered any attention at the NHL Entry Draft.

Stanley did not give up on his dreams of the NHL. The Philadelphia Flyers invited him to training camp where he impressed the brass enough to earn a contract.

Over the next 4 seasons Stanley shuttled between the NHL and the minor leagues, called up whenever injuries or expected battles warranted his skills. He learned to play competent defense, making up for lack of foot or puck skills by learning to play within his limitations. He also had to overcome serious injuries that occurred in a car accident in the 1984-85 season. He suffered a dislocated vertebra in the neck, a minor concussion, and a bruised kidney. He spent three months in the hospital and some reports even suggested Stanley's career was over.

But he fought his way back and became a regular on the Flyers roster.

"Bob Plager once told me, 'kid, never forget what got you here. Keep playing like that, and then you can work on the other things'" Stanley remembered.

By his final season in Philadelphia, 1987, Stanley, who also took shifts on the wings, was used in 13 playoff games as the Flyers battled the Oilers for the Stanley Cup finals.

Impressed with his improving play and his willingness to drop the gloves, the Canucks made the move for Stanley late in the summer of 1987. It was a move designed to toughen up the smallish Canucks team that was too often pushed around. Stanley, along with the likes of Craig Coxe and Dave Richter, were there to even things out a bit.

But he was also brought in to instill a winning attitude in Vancouver.

"Being on good clubs, right when you become a part of the organization, you learn how to win. It's instilled in your head that you've got to win. Some of the players I've talked to, who've been here awhile, say the attitude is better now than it's been for some time."

Stanley had a successful first season in Vancouver in 1987-88. I remember him taking on all comers, most notably Detroit's daunting Bob Probert and then Calgary's Tim Hunter a few days later. He even filled in for the injured Stan Smyl as team captain for a stretch of about 20 games. This must have been one of Stanley's proudest accomplishments in hockey.

But something happened in the next couple of seasons. Injuries derailed the next two campaigns, as he played in only 20 and 23 games in 1988-89 and 1989-90 respectively.

All the time off, coupled with his car accident a couple of years earlier, gave Stanley lots of time to think. At some point he just decided he had had enough of the life of a NHL enforcer, and returned home to the wilderness of Manitoba where he could find peace and tranquility, and ultimately his new career.

He began guiding hunters on many different types of gaming trips. Eventually he opened up Stanley's Goose Camp, and Stanley Bear Creek Outfitting, where he specializes guiding hunters and hosting them at his lodge.

Just for fun, let's take a look at a classic Daryl Stanley fight courtesy of YouTube. Here is taking on an eager Scott Stevens:


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