Playing for champs big bonus for new Blackhawks Daley, Garbutt

 
 
Updated 7/14/2015 7:09 AM

Trevor Daley watched teammates come and go during his 10-plus years as a member of the Dallas Stars.

All the while, the 31-year-old defenseman built a life in Dallas, getting married, having two children and ensconcing himself in the community by living there year-round and doing what he could by volunteering his time to help others.

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In the blink of an eye, though, Daley and fellow teammate Ryan Garbutt were sent to the Blackhawks last week for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns.

"You always question when is your time?" Daley said of being part of a trade. "At the end of the day, there's really no preparing for it when the call does come in. It happened so quick you don't realize what happened until you sit back and take some time … and then you realize what happened."

Now that a few days have passed and Daley took the time to seek advice from former teammates and friends such as Steve Ott, Marty Turco and Brenden Morrow, both he and Garbutt realize they have been given a great opportunity to play for the defending Stanley Cup champs.

"If you came to ask me if I were to go somewhere to play, going to the best team in hockey is not a bad thing," said Daley, who has been in just 35 playoff games over his career on a Stars team that reached the postseason once since 2008.

Now the question is how will Daley and Garbutt fit in with the Hawks?

Daley finished fifth among defensemen in 2014-15 with 16 goals in 68 games. Daley, who only averaged 6.8 goals in the five full seasons before last year, pointed to the arrival of Lindy Ruff as Dallas' head coach before the 2013-14 season as to the reason for his increased goal-scoring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I always knew that somewhere I had it," Daley said. "I think it had a lot to do with the style of game that we played."

That style led to Dallas scoring 261 goals, second only to the Lightning's 262.

Dallas, though, gave up the fifth-most goals at 260. Meanwhile, Joel Quenneville's Blackhawks allowed just 189, which tied Montreal for the league low.

So can Daley rein it in and win his new coaching staff's trust?

"I'm coming in looking to fit in and follow their lead and listen and learn because I want to win one (a Cup) with them," Daley said. "I'm willing to do whatever I'm told to do."

Daley had hip surgery after the regular season ended, but said he will be ready to go when training camp opens Sept. 18.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Garbutt is an agitator who became an everyday player during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. He piled up 17 goals the next year, but his production fell off big time last year as he scored just eight times and just once in the last 39 games.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've been training hard this summer to try and make sure I come back next year like I did two years ago," Garbutt said. "I definitely have confidence in myself to be able to do that."

Garbutt admitted any time a player switches teams, they're always wondering where they may fit in. And if the Hawks manage to re-sign restricted free agent Marcus Kruger, Garbutt may indeed have a tough time carving out a role on the team.

As for Daley, the bigger piece of the trade, some fans may think of him as the "guy whom the Hawks traded Patrick Sharp for." Asked how you don't come in and try to replace Sharp in the hearts and minds of the fans, he had a veteran answer ready.

"I'm just going to be myself. I'm not going to change," Daley said. "I'm not going to come in and be who I'm not. Sharp's been a great player for a long time and he's had some great success with a great team. I think he's going to do really well in Dallas.

"I don't know him, but if I were to talk to him about Dallas, I'd tell him that he's going to a good place. I wish him all the best, but at the same time I'm excited about the opportunity.

"I get to go play for the best team in hockey and get to watch future Hall of Famers play hockey and play with them on the same team. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and to the challenge.

"I'm just going to take advantage of it and run with it."

Convention watch:

Blackhawks fans unable to attend this weekend's convention can watch the opening ceremonies on Comcast SportsNet at 5 p.m.

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