April 24, 2015

Yvan Joly

Yvan Joly was an absolute speedster and goal scorer in junior hockey. Playing on what may have been the smallest and fastest line in all of the OHL, Joly played on a line with Jim Fox with the Ottawa 67s in the late 1970s. He was truly one of the more sensational players in the 67's long and fabled history.

The 5'8" right winger had a season to remember in 1979-80. He led the OHL with an amazing 66 goals in 67 games, adding 93 assists for 159 points! He would have had even more but he was added to Canada's World Junior Championships team, scoring three more goals in five games. He then concluded his season with his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs, appearing in a game against Minnesota.

It was a game he'll never forget. And it could have been two, but his flight to Montreal was late so Montreal opted to scratch him for the game they originally wanted him to debut in.

"Get some sleep, they said," remembered Joly. "How was I supposed to sleep? I was up at 4am so I wouldn't miss the plane. Ever since I was a little kid I've been waiting for this. I can't believe it's happened. My legs are still shaking."

Joly never figured on the scoresheet in that first NHL game. He probably figured he would get a number of chances to do so in the future, but in hockey, as in life, you should never expect such opportunities to just be given to you.

Including that lone playoff game, Yvan Joly would play only three career games. "The French Canadian fireplug" from Hawkesbury would get into one more NHL game in each of the 1980-81 and 1982-83 season, but otherwise spent the better part of three seasons apprenticing with the Habs farm team in Nova Scotia. He never did register on a NHL scoresheet.

Montreal tried trading Joly to Hartford but for unknown reasons the deal could never be arranged. Montreal and Joly seemed to have a rocky relationship. The Habs had trouble signing Joly out of junior, and Joly expressed that he felt he had not been given a proper chance in Montreal. Montreal opted to release Joly from his contract in 1983. He would sign as an AHL free agent in Maine after starting the year in Italy.

Joly retired for the 1984-85 season. He tried an AHL comeback in 1985-86 with Indianapolis but after 17 games he hung up his skates for good.

The love of hockey was still strong with Joly despite his setbacks. He stepped behind the bench, finding a lot of success at the junior level.

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