Joe Daley played for the WHA Winnipeg Jets from 1972-79 and since his retirement has remained in Winnipeg operating Joe Daley’s Sportscards. Joe is known as the “Holy Goalie” and has been one of the most recognizable Jets players during and after his playing days. He is the goalie with the most wins in WHA History and Joe was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions for us about his time as a Winnipeg Jet, his thoughts on the new team and what he feels they should be called. Below is a transcript of the interview.
Hi Joe, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. It really means a lot be able to get your thoughts and share them with our readers.
WinnipegWhiteOut: This must be a pretty exciting time for you right now how does this compare to the level of excitement when it was announced that Winnipeg would be playing in the WHA and when the Jets got accepted into the NHL?
Joe Daley: When we went into the WHA it was a new start and as an active player the excitement was much bigger as a player. The switch to the NHL in 1979 lost some of its luster when the Jets had to give up so much of their team to the NHL clubs. I think the return of the NHL this time around is much bigger than the entry into the NHL in 1979.
WWO: You had played several seasons in the NHL before you joined Winnipeg in the WHA, what made you decide to give Winnipeg a chance?
JD: Winnipeg is my hometown and I never thought that I would be able to play pro hockey here so being able to come “home” to play for the Jets was a bit of a dream come true.
WWO: Do you think Winnipeg will have difficulty luring free agents or keeping players as it’s been suggested by many that we will?
JD: Once the players see how the fans and team management treat them, the word will spread that Winnipeg is a great sports city. Also off the ice they will find the people are warm and friendly making it a desirable place to play.
WWO: You were one of the last goalies not to wear a mask but decided to wear one when you came to Winnipeg, what made you finally decide to put one on?
JD: Ernie Wakely was my goalie partner and he suggested that I try a mask, so I did, and surprisingly I got used to it quite quickly.
WWO: In the past you’ve been invited to historic nights at the old Winnipeg Arena, which one stands out most to you?
JD: They have all been fun and memorable events.
WWO: Has True North contacted you about attending the Opening Night Game for the new Winnipeg NHL yet to be named franchise?
JD: Not as of yet.
WWO: You hold several goal-tending records for the Winnipeg Jets, being that this is not the franchise that moved to Phoenix, if True North decides they should be called the Jets do you think that old records should fall and retired numbers should be kept?
JD: I think the team should be considered a new franchise and not connected so much with the past. As Bill Daly stated today (Thurs) the Winnipeg records will remain with the Coyotes so I guess that is an “official” answer from the NHL.
WWO: What are your thoughts on the Team name? Should it be the Jets? If you had to pick one name other then the Jets what would it be?
JD: I think they will choose a new name other than the Jets, honestly can’t say I have a preference for a new name.
WWO: Where were you when it was announced that the Jets would be leaving for Phoenix in 1996 and what was your reaction?
JD: I was in Winnipeg running the store and felt very saddened and disappointed that a piece of me and hockey history was leaving.
WWO: How do you think the former Atlanta Thrasher players will adapt from the low profile lifestyle they’ve had in Atlanta to being instant celebrities in Winnipeg?
JD: The new team will be scrutinized much more in Winnipeg than in Atlanta, which may help them elevate their level play. We shall see.
WWO: What advice would you give those players to help them adjust to life in Winnipeg?
JD: Just settle into our city, enjoy what it has to offer, and be down to earth people. Everybody here will embrace the new guys and some will become the next sports heroes of Winnipeg.
WWO: What advice would you give to fans to ensure we make our new NHL stars feel welcome and not overwhelmed?
WWO: Speaking of overwhelmed, what was it like back in ’78 when the Jets took on the Red Army team and won 5-3?
JD: Looking back at that accomplishment, I feel very proud to have been part of that night. The Europeans that were playing on our team at the time have always said it was one of the greatest team accomplishments to beat the National Team.
WWO: You won 3 Avco Cups in 7 years, those same years (’76,’78,’79) the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. Do you think you could have beaten them if given the chance?
JD: Unfortunately we will never know.
WWO: You’ve coached before albeit only for a year, any chance we’ll see you involved in the new Winnipeg organization as a goalie coach?
JD: No, my coaching days are in the past.