BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A decade-plus long NHL career followed by a coaching career can take someone a lot of different places.

For Daniel Paille, he has been able to do a lot of that from the comforts of home.

The 38-year-old, who hails from Welland, Ontario, about a 40 minute drive from Buffalo, was drafted by the Sabres with the 20th overall pick in the 2002 NHL draft. Over 100 friends and family were able to watch his selection live in the building in Toronto.

“If you look back, there’s a huge crowd cheering when they called my name, and that section was my family and some friends from back home. That night we got to have a party at a family member’s house that lived not that far from Toronto, so all of us got to get together there. So that was my first memory,” Paille said.

Paille made his NHL debut in December 2005 after some more time in junior hockey and a stint with the Rochester Americans before he came up for good during the 2006-07 season.

“Just being so close to home, that makes it special,” Paille said. “The travel for them was very easy. So my pro life experience was not necessarily normal to what others kind of go through, so for me I was very fortunate to have that closeness to see them basically every weekend.”

During his time in Buffalo, he was part of the 2006 and 2007 teams that made back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals. He also has the distinction of having picked up an assist in the first-ever Winter Classic game on January 1, 2008 at what was then called Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Photo courtesy: Buffalo Sabres

“We were just kind of in that vibe where Buffalo was between the veteran group and the young group and they were doing amazing between the two blends. I think overall, I had a really good experience,” he said.

However, he did not spend the rest of his career with the Sabres. Two games into the 2009-10 season, he was traded to the Boston Bruins, ending his Sabres career. The highlight of his Boston tenure was winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, the only time he was able to lift the cup during his career.

“Obviously, a lot needs to go right to get to that point and we had a very good, defensive-minded team and some highly skilled forwards and an amazing goalie. Overall, everything kind of worked out at the same time and I think that’s where I learned about composure and high situations, how to handle that and being more even-keeled as opposed to up and down with your emotions,” Paille said. “It’s always good to acknowledge whether it’s good or bad, but it’s how quickly you move forward with it to get better.”

Those lessons that he learned throughout his playing career barreled him towards his second career as a coach.

After ending his career overseas in 2018, he came back to the area.

However, he knew that he still had something to give to the game. After some discussions, he became a volunteer assistant coach with Canisius College ahead of the 2019-20 season.

“For me, I know I wanted to do something to help in some way. I didn’t know exactly what it was so when I met with (head coach) Trevor (Large), it was more of just a friendly conversation to just get stated and get an idea of how coaching works overall,” Paille said. “Just those scenarios and values. I think we hit it off. He was talking about having a volunteer position to get in. For me, it wasn’t necessarily looking for a job, it was about getting back into it.”

After discussing it with his wife, he took that volunteer position. He did that for two years and was then promoted to a full-time assistant position before the 2021-22 season. He said that he is able to pass along some lessons that he learned during his playing career from the likes of Danny Briere, Chris Drury, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek.

“It’s kind a different experience. I came from a different route so it’s almost a learning experience of how NCAA works, but at the same time when it comes down to hockey it’s all the same thing. So that’s where I find I’ve been trying to bring that value and the knowledge and I’ve been blessed with and what I learned throughout my career,” he said.

Photo courtesy: Canisius Athletics

He says that he has noticed that a lot of the players now as opposed to when he was coming up play the game differently – which is something he has come to embrace.

“I believe the generation below us is way more skilled than I ever was, I think. I think it’s about trying to increase it as more of a team game and I just think that’s how the kids are brought up, individual skills. So it’s trying to get it back to a team-like atmosphere. Not only worried about finding a certain play, but finding what’s the best play.”

All in all, his goal at this stage in his career is to make the players and the team the best that it can be.

“I try to remind these players that every day you have to put in the work and do what you can to get that much better every day,” he said. “For me, it’s been a bit of an exciting time to try to share that experience. Hopefully, I find that they have been taking that in.”

Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.