When Penguins hockey operations advisor Trevor Daley was a kid growing up in the Regent Park neighborhood of downtown Toronto, he would spend a lot of time at the Scarborough Bluffs.
The area, which is located just outside the city, features parks, trails and gardens with picturesque views of Lake Ontario. Daley used to sit there and soak it all in, and while he didn't know it at the time, he was planting the seeds for something that would blossom into one of his biggest passions.
"I watched them take boats in and out of the boat ramp, and just found it really fascinating," Daley said. "Even though I lived so close to the water, I never was able to be on a boat back then. But I still just found it really cool."
Daley would eventually leave home after getting drafted in the first round (10th overall) by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. It was there that Daley met his future wife, Kristy West, with a little help from the future general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Our team stick boy at the time was Kyle Dubas," Daley said. "Him and Kristy were locker mates and had classes together. So he was the one that actually got me Kristy's number, believe it or not (laughs)."
Kristy's family had a lake house in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario - nicknamed "The Soo" - which is located right on the Canada-U.S. border, across from the Michigan city of the same name. That's where Daley finally got the chance to go boating, and immediately fell in love.
"I had a huge desire for boats before I got to the lake, and it just kind of added to it," Daley said. "I love the water, I love being on the water, and I love boating. So if I wasn't in hockey, being a boat captain would be my dream job."
However, Daley did have a bright future in the sport, and ended up putting together an illustrious NHL career. But he and Kristy did buy a lake house of their own in Sault Ste. Marie, along with Trevor's first boat of his own, so that he could still be on the water as much as possible every offseason.
"Right away, I jumped into a Sea Doo boat," he said. "It didn't have a propeller, so I hit a few rocks, but it wasn't too bad (laughs). I just kind of bumped over them instead of breaking off a propeller. So I think it was a good starter boat."
Daley eventually upgraded to a 40-foot cruiser, which provided another unique learning experience.
"That was a lot of boat," he said with a laugh. "I dinged that off of a lot of docks. And to have a boat with two motors, I didn't realize this, but it's a lot easier to maneuver. But then the fact that it's so big when the wind hits you, that catches you off guard, too. So it taught me a lot."
The Daley family will now be splitting their time between Ontario and Florida, as they bought another property on the central Gulf Coast of Florida, which means they now have the best of both worlds with the lake and the ocean. Daley said he's gotten a lot more into fishing down in Florida, which is something his son Trevor Jr. also loves, while his daughter Emery enjoys waterskiing.
"They love wakeboarding, surfing - they're into all that stuff," Daley said. "So we definitely have a ton of fun."
With his playing career coming to an end in October, Daley has resurrected his dream of becoming a boat captain. He is working towards earning his captain's license, because eventually, when he and Kristy are empty nesters, his dream is to spend as much time as possible on the ocean.
"I want to travel and look at different spots, things like that," he said. "So I've just been kind of learning how through watching a lot of YouTube videos on sailing. Trying to learn how weather works and how the tides and different things work. So that's kind of what I've been doing now, just trying to get experience."
He hopes to take the course relatively soon, and once he goes through all of the proper protocols, Daley may start by checking off an item on his bucket list - making the trip from his home in Florida to his home in Sault Ste. Marie by boat.
"That's the one thing I want to do in the near future," Daley said.
But in the meantime, Daley is enjoying every chance he gets to be on the lake or the ocean. He particularly loves getting out there first thing in the morning, when the water is the calmest.
"My biggest joy is just being out on the water," he said. "There's nothing like it. Just having that free range of you don't have to stop at stoplights, there's not too much traffic, you don't have to worry about changing lanes as much. It's just a nice feeling that I love."