EVERETT — They originally called themselves the “20-year-old Beauties.”
Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan dubbed them the “Grey-beard Line.”
Now they’ve named themselves “DHL,” in reference to the delivery company.
But whatever the name, the Everett Silvertips’ new line consisting of overagers Zack Dailey, Shane Harper and Chris Langkow is getting the job done and having fun doing it — and they’re part of the reason why the Tips are perfect in 2010.
“We’re pretty fired up playing together, I’m not going to lie to you,” Harper said.
It’s unusual for major-junior teams to employ all three of their overagers on the same line. Most teams don’t even have that option as they tend to spread their three overage roster spots between offense, defense and goal. In its previous six seasons, Everett never employed three overage forwards, even when the Tips were allowed five overagers as an expansion team. The only time in recent memory that a WHL Western Conference team skated three overagers together was last season, when Tri-City’s Taylor Procyshen, Jason Reese and Mitch Fadden would take the occasional shift together.
But Tips coach Craig Hartsburg bucked the trend when he moved Dailey onto the right wing alongside Harper and Langkow for Everett’s home game against Tri-City on Jan. 2. Since then the three have combined on eight goals and 14 assists, leading Everett to a 6-0 record so far in the new year.
“They’ve been a good, solid line,” Hartsburg said. “There’s a couple games where they’ve scored for us, but their general play as been good at both ends of the rink. It should be, they’re three guys who are 20 years old, so you expect that from them. You expect them to show the way, do things right, and for the most part they have.”
It was, perhaps, inevitable that Dailey, Harper and Langkow would eventually get their chance together. The Tips have spent the entire season searching for a winger to play alongside Harper and Langkow. A steady stream of players were given their chance on that line, but Everett could never find the right fit. Harper and Langkow continued to produce, but the third member could never quite follow suit.
Dailey seemed an unlikely candidate to fill that role as he has played almost exclusively as a center during his five seasons in Everett, the same position Langkow plays for the Tips. It was the acquisition of Clayton Cumiskey that ultimately led to Dailey’s tryout. The Tips acquired Cumiskey from Edmonton on Dec. 28 in exchange for Cameron Abney. Cumiskey was first tried as a winger alongside Harper and Langkow. However, Everett always considered Cumiskey more suited to center, where he was quickly moved. That freed up Dailey to move to wing.
The move paid immediate dividends. In the trio’s first game together Dailey opened the scoring just 1 minute, 43 seconds into the game. He scored again a mere 1:31 later, and the enthusiastic celebrations that followed each goal indicated Harper and Langkow felt they’d finally found their wingman.
“Dales works extremely hard and is a very fast player, he’s strong with the puck,” Langkow said. “Just adding that to our line, with me and Harps working hard, it’s three people all doing the same thing. We’re turning a lot of (opposition) pucks over and getting pucks to net and I think that’s why we’re scoring some goals.”
For Dailey in particular the move has been a turning point. Everett’s captain was scoreless for 24 straight games prior to the switch. Since then he has three goals and five assists in six games.
Dailey believes it’s the combination of moving to wing, where he finds himself better making use of his speed, and playing with his fellow overagers that sparked his offensive outburst.
“It ended my drought and proved to the coaches we were a good line and a good fit,” Dailey said. “I just wanted to prove I can fit in this role, play with these players and help the team out offensively.”
But what to call themselves?
The original name, the “20-year-old Beauties,” was born from a spontaneous moment when they first took the ice together against Tri-City. The Americans’ Johnny Lazo was quizzical when the trio first took the ice together, and Dailey responded by saying they were just three 20-year-old beauties.
The trio liked that name and tried to run with it, but they were about the only ones who found it enduring.
Hartsburg gave a grimace the first time he was informed of the nickname. “Somebody didn’t put a lot of thought into that one,” Hartsburg said with a laugh.
“It’s all we’ve got right now,” Harper exclaimed late last week.
The trio, at the suggestion of team equipment manager James Stucky, has since adopted the moniker, “DHL Line,” which uses the last initial of each of the three players. They claim, just like the company’s slogan, that “we deliver.”
So far that’s been the case, and the Tips hope they continue to carry the load the remainder of the season.
Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog: http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog