When I first set up Twisted Sock, I had a number of ambitions that I wanted to focus efforts on and one of them was most definitely to track down one of my all time Pirates greats, Danny Shea.
Danny was one of those players who put bums on seats ….. a player who, when the chips were down, could always be trusted to come up with some outrageous brilliance to turn the game. For me, he personified not only the “Rocky Saganiuk” Pirates era but quite simply ice hockey itself ….. he was fast, exciting, spectacular, explosive and he was always unpredictable.
My efforts to track Danny down earlier in the year failed without coming close but a more recent “hopeful” posting on the Boston College web forum attracted the attention of a close friend of Danny’s and, at last, I had a breakthrough.
Of course, just when you think you’ve cracked it so more hurdles present themselves. I’ve often wondered how tough it must have been for defencemen to tie Danny up during his hockey days but keeping the fast moving communications rep that is Danny Shea 2000 “pinned to the boards” for long enough to fire off a few questions sure gave me an insight !
In the end, because I knew you folk were keen to hear from the man, we settled on an all too brief chat “on the road” …… well, where did you expect me to pin a sales rep down ?!!!
….. on the road again then Danny ?
“Yeah, sorry …… thanks for being so patient on this one ! I’m leaving town for a few days for work.”
Let’s roll the years back a little. After your back to back seasons with Boston College in the mid-80s, you had a brief involvement with the Pittsburgh Penguins. How did that come about and how come things didn’t work out ?
“Well I played for Boston College and then went on to the Pittsburgh camp but went down to their minor league team. I was there for a couple of months and they made some trades so I guess I was the odd man out.”
What was it or who was it that first enticed you over to the UK to play for Ayr Bruins ?
“I got a call from Donny Edwards who was the GM of Ayr at the time and after speaking I decided to take a trip overseas. I went over for a couple of weeks and decided to stay. Even in that small old rink that Ayr had at the time, the people where great and, because I wanted to travel the world anyway, I decided to stay on for the year. After playing two and a half years in Ayr I decided to go back home for one more try in the NHL …… again I was close but no cigar !”
…… and how did the link up with Pirates come about ?
“Well, after this second set back, I was going to hang it up when Rocky Saganiuk and Trent Kaese called me and asked me to come over for another year. So I was off to Pirates. I, once again, hooked up with Rocky, Scott O’Connor and Trent and, again, I had so much fun with those guys along with the rest of the guys on the team.”
Even now, nearly ten years after you left these shores, Pirates fans still place you at the very top of any poll on all time greats to have played for the club …… does that surprise you ?
“I know a lot of the time I got most of the credit for big games but, in reality, guys like Trent, John Tague, Scotty, Doc Durdle and other players were the reason our team was so successful. Also, the young kids were awesome and we were well coached by Rocky too.”
The last competitive Pirates game that you played was on April 28, 1991 in the Championship Final against Durham Wasps at Wembley …… still to this day, Pirates greatest achievement. Do you still have many memories of that Wembley weekend ?
“Sure, we all have great memories of Wembley. I was there once with Ayr and once with the Pirates and they were both so much fun with a lot of memories.”
Have you kept in contact with any of the players from that side ?
“I speak to Rocky, Trent and some people from off the ice that I’m friends with. It was a time of my life I will always cherish and never forget.”
When you left Pirates at the end of that season and returned home ……. what did you get up to ?
“I’m very happy to say I married Kathy, my college girlfriend and we have now 3 beautiful children ! They are Connor, Ryan and Kelley. Connor’s five and he will start playing hockey this year.”
We’ll watch out for him ! Do you still have any involvement in the game yourself ?
“I coach high school hockey for kids aged 14 to 18 years old. It’s so much fun ! I also still play twice a week with a lot of ex-NHL players. It keeps me in shape and young at heart !!!”
Away from the hockey, what are you up to nowadays ?
“I work as a sales rep for MCI in the telecommunication industry.”
Do you have any plans to visit the UK in the near future ?
“Actually I do. I’ll be coming over to the UK sometime next summer to play golf. Golf is my new love after having slowed down in hockey ! I’m planning a trip for next summer and I’d welcome any help people can give me to get on some of the nicer courses !”
I’ll see what I can do for you. Until then, make sure you drop in on the Twisted-Sock Forum every now and then and say hi to the fans ?
“No problem. Please tell all the Pirates fans I said hello and I thank them for all their support while I was there. Good luck to the Pirates and talk to you again soon.”
…… thanks Danny !