Joe Daley is a former World Hockey Association (WHA) and NHL goaltender who manned the crease for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and the Winnipeg Jets throughout his career. Daley’s most memorable stint was with the Winnipeg Jets from 1972-79, where he was able to backstop the team to three Avco Cups. Daley grew up in the East Kildonan area of Winnipeg, so to finish his career as a Jet was really a type of homecoming for the veteran goalie.
Daley decided to get into the game of hockey at a very young age. When he found out that he had a niche for the game, he went down to the Bronx Park Community Club to sign up and jumped at the opportunity to play in net.
“As soon as I could get out on the street with a ball and a stick I started playing,” Daley said.
“I put my name down on the list to be a goalie, and when I came home and told mom and dad that I had done this they said ‘Why did you put your name to be a goalie?’ And I said ‘Nobody else did so I knew I was going to get a chance to play’ so that’s how it all got started.”
Early playing days
Being a goaltender, Daley has always admired the work of other goalies in the league. Growing up he idolized the great Terry Sawchuk; he also admires the work Martin Brodeur has done in the crease throughout his career. In today’s game, Daley is impressed by Carey Price and the Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
“Growing up in East Kildonan, Terry Sawchuk was from East Kildonan and I idolized him,” he said. “Still to this day I think he was certainly one of the top two or three goaltenders to ever play in the NHL, so he was probably the one I enjoyed watching play the most.”
Due to being a part of the Penguins, Sabres, and Red Wings early on in his career, stability was always difficult for Daley and his family. It wasn’t until he became a member of the Jets that he felt more secure with his role due to being signed to longer-term contracts.
“I really didn’t have a lot of stability until I decided to jump to the WHA and come home to play in Winnipeg,” he said.
“Prior to that there was a lot of travel and a lot of disruption for family. Luckily the boys weren’t that old, they started school when we were away but really the brunt of their schooling was done in Winnipeg, so we were established here at home.”
Daley stated that he was very fortunate to have the opportunity to come home and play for his home team, and it was a big part of his career and by far the most enjoyable part.
“I always considered myself a team guy, and certainly the successes that we had with that team and with the great players that I had the opportunity to be associated with will always be very fond in my memories as a player,” Daley said of his championship teams.
“The ultimate is when you’re a player you play for a championship, and to have challenged for it five times and won it three times was pretty successful for us as an organization and I am quite proud to be a member of that team.”
Daley has suited up with the famous ‘hot line’ of Anders Hedberg, Bobby Hull, and Ulf Nilsson in Winnipeg. He also played with Marcel Dionne in his rookie season in Detroit, and with Gilbert Perrault during his rookie year in Buffalo, both of which have now been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“It was always a pleasure to have said I’ve played against Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, and Jean Beliveau, and some of the all-time greats of the game,” Daley said.
“It was always nice to be able to reflect and say that I know how good those boys were, and certainly I can look back now and be quite proud of the fact that I was able to grace the ice with greats like that.”
Before everyone was wearing masks, goaltenders used to play without wearing a mask, and Daley was one of the last players to go through that experience. Andy Brown, who is a friend of Daley’s, actually never put on a goalie mask, so Daley considers himself the second last to play without a mask.
“I really never wore one for any length of time until my last five years in Winnipeg,” he said. “That was due to my partner Ernie Wakely, who is still until this day a great friend and he suggested maybe I should get one made so my evening in the net was going to be a long one, rather than a short one where he would have to come in and replace me.”
Setting up shop
After Daley hung up the skates, he coached the Penticton Knights for a brief period in the Okanagan, before returning back to Winnipeg. When Joe and his family returned to Winnipeg his youngest son Travis suggested they open a business that they could grow in the city, and that business is now known as Joe Daley’s Sports and Framing.
“We certainly started in a very humble way, pretty much selling the cards, and supplies, and a few candy bars and such,” Daley said of his shop.
“As time has gone on the custom framing of everything has become very very important in our sustainability as far as an operation goes and we’ve had a lot of fun over the years with meeting people and developing our store and our reputation.”
Joe believes that the current Winnipeg Jets aren’t far off from being a very competitive team, but overall stated that the return of the team has been great for the city and of course for business.
“Selfishly it’s been tremendous for business, there’s no two ways about it,” he said with a laugh.
“Just as a fan of the game and a citizen of Winnipeg what having an NHL team means to everybody here is tremendous, the excitement of being able to talk about our team on a daily basis, but also just how everybody feels about themselves. You always feel quite good when you know that everybody in the world is looking at you as a city and your professional teams, and certainly the Jets have been very good for us to have back, so as a fan I am very very happy.”
Daley is now a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, and was recently inducted into the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.