February 19, 2016

Joe Daley

Early in his career Joe Daley really struggled with the ups and downs of life as a pro hockey goalie.

He had the talent and promise to become a NHL regular, but struggled get his footing in four NHL seasons with Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Detroit. And there was too much time spent in the minor leagues than he cared to admit.

He ended up turning to alcohol to help cope.

"Booze and a bad attitude, both affected my early career," he admitted.

In 1972 Daley jumped to the World Hockey Association to play with his hometown Winnipeg Jets. Not only did he find a new job, but he found a new lifestyle.

In fact, it is not such a stretch as to suggest the move to Winnipeg saved his life let alone his hockey career.

Joe Daley, influenced heavily by fellow goalie Ernie Wakely, gave up drinking and became a Christian convert. He became known as "The Holy Goalie."

"(Wakely's) example influenced me," Daley recalled in The Hockey News. "With the help of God and Ernie, I found myself better able to accept defeat. It makes such a difference because athletes face so many hills and valleys, they're always up or down."

The change of attitude really showed in Daley's play. He retired as the WHA's winningest goaltender and helped the Jets win three WHA championships.

Daley retired the same summer that the WHA collapsed and the Jets merged with the NHL. Initially Daley moved to Penticton, British Columbia to coach junior hockey. He would return to Winnipeg where he established a popular sports collectible store.

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