Remembering Bob Dailey
The late Bob “the Count” Dailey was born in Kingston, Ontario, on May 3, 1953. Years before the likes of Al MacInnis, Rob Blake and Shea Weber gained fame and fortune with their blistering right-handed slap shots, Dailey terrorized NHL goaltenders with deadly accurate 100 mile-per-hour blasts from the point.
A two-time winner of the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers’ best defenseman, Dailey possessed a rare combination of imposing size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), remarkable agility and an occasional mean streak that also carried him to a pair of NHL All-Star Game selections and a Vancouver Premier’s Trophy as the Canucks’ best defenseman.
During the prime of his career, “the Count” was among the best offense-contributing defensemen in franchise history. During his Flyers career, Dailey averaged two points for every three games played and recorded a 21-goal season during his first full year in the orange and black.
Unfortunately, a series of injuries, including major shoulder and knee injuries, curtailed Dailey’s effectiveness. When reasonably healthy, Dailey was a heavy body checker as well as an offensive force. He often played at far less than 100-percent, which made his career seem sporadic and inconsistent to those who were unaware of his physical struggles. Even in his All-Star seasons, Dailey was subject to such lofty expectations that he was sometimes unfairly branded an underachiever.
Dailey’s injury woes culminated with a shattered ankle suffered in November of 1981. The injury ended the Count’s NHL career at the age of 28 – an age most defensemen are hitting the prime of their careers.
“It’s not often as a coach that you have a defenseman who can change a game by himself. At his best, Bob Dailey could do that,” the late Pat Quinn, Dailey's former Flyers head coach, said in 1994.
Dailey remained in the Philadelphia area after his retirement and became an active member of the Flyers Alumni Association. While his name is infrequently mentioned among the top players ever to wear the orange and black, it is only because he was forced to retire so young. If it weren’t for his run of bad luck with injuries Bob “the Count” Dailey could have challenged the likes of Mark Howe, Eric Desjardins, Kimmo Timonen and Jimmy Watson in the pantheon of great Flyers defensemen of the past.
Bob Dailey passed away in Florida on September 7, 2016, after a long bout with cancer. Throughout his life, he was a good friend to all who knew him well and a modest man who was humble about his accomplishments on the hockey rink.