Pittsburgh drafted Dave Hannan in 1981, and although he spent most of his first year with the Erie Blades he did make one appearance as a Penguin that season. He divided his time between the Penguins and the minors until 1985. In 1985-86 and 1986-87 he played full time for Pittsburgh. He was traded to Edmonton in November 1987, and played the balance of the season and the playoffs with the Oilers. He credits being a part of that Stanley Cup winning team with teaching him how to win.
Hannan was a 26-year-old centre from a team that wasn't even operating in the same stratosphere when he arrived in Edmonton. He credits the friendliness and encouragement of Wayne Gretzky with helping to boost his confidence and make him a productive part of the team. He saw a hockey club with many stars on its roster buckle down and put forth a team effort with single-minded intensity, and learned that this was what it took to win a championship. Although he did not dress for the final game of the playoffs, team captain Gretzky and teammate Mark Messier made a point of including him in the celebration.
Stanley Cup ring in hand, Hannan returned to Pittsburgh when the Penguins claimed him in the October 1988. After a 30-point season in Pittsburgh in 1988-89, he was claimed in the 1989 Waiver Draft and moved again, this time to Toronto. Injuries kept him sidelined for a number of games during the 1989-90 season, but in '90-'91 he played 74 games and had 34 points.
In spite of this nice showing, he ended up in a salary dispute with the Leafs the following season. The disagreement went to arbitration, and Hannan asked for a trade. In the midst of this, he was asked to play for Team Canada in the 1992 Olympics. He had an impressive three goals and five assists in eight games and came home with a silver medal, but in March the Leafs traded him to the Buffalo Sabres.
Hannan played the next three full seasons with the Sabres, providing respectable numbers and a veteran attitude in the dressing room. In March 1996, he was on the move again. Traded to Colorado before the deadline, Hannan played four regular season games and 13 playoff games for the Avalanche, earning his second Stanley Cup ring when the Avs swept the Florida Panthers in the 1996 finals. Once the celebration was over, Hannan was a free agent, and was signed by the Ottawa Senators in September 1996. He played 34 games for Ottawa before retiring from play in 1997.