An outstanding goalie in junior with the Weyburn Red Wings and EHL Rookie of the Year in 1963-64 with the Johnstown Jets, Joe Daley was the first ever member of the Buffalo Sabres via intra-league draft just hours before the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft.
His National Hockey League career never really took off, however. It was in the WHA where Daley made his mark. He was a goaltender for the Winnipeg Jets from 1972-73 to 1978-79, the entire duration of the rebel league. In five of those seven seasons, Joe helped the Jets to the Avco World Trophy finals.
For those who don’t know, Joe is still in the game as owner of Joe Daley’s Sports and Framing, a store specializing in hockey cards. And yes, word is that if you mail one of his hockey cards to the store with a return envelope and postage, he will gladly sign.
Joe Daley – Junior and Minor Pro
Joe Daley spent two years with the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), 1961-62 and 1962-63. In the first season, the Red Wings were a bit woeful, finishing seventh in the eight team league and out of post season contention.
However, the rookie played 53 of the team’s 55 games and posted a 3.34 goals against average. A Second Team All-Star goaltender, Daley was named the SJHL’s most valuable player and the league’s top rookie. He also appeared in his first pro hockey game, playing a single match in the EPHL for the Sudbury Wolves.
The following season, he played in 51 of Weyburn’s 54 regular season games, posting a 2.98 GAA. The Red Wings finished third in the seven team league and lost in the semi-finals to the Melville Millionaires. Joe played in eight playoff games and was again named a Second Team All-Star.
For 1963-64, he jumped to the EHL and the Johnstown Jets. He appeared in 66 of the team’s 72 regular season games, putting up a 3.35 GAA. Daley was named the EHL Rookie of the Year. He helped the Jets to a first overall finish and the team reached the semi-finals before falling to the Clinton Comets, despite outscoring their opponents 25-19 on the series. Clinton went on to win the championship.
In 1963-64, Joe got around. Along with his nearly complete season with Johnstown, he played in a single CPHL game with the Cincinnati Wings. He also appeared in two regular season and two Calder Cup playoff games in the American Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Hornets.
He followed up his rookie pro season with another standout with the Johnstown Jets in 1964-65. He appeared in 70 of 72 games during the regular season. In the opening round, the Jets again met up with the Clinton Comets. The best of five series went the distance with both teams scoring 19 goals apiece. Clinton again came out on top.
Daley started 1966-67 with the Pittsburgh Hornets in the AHL and appeared in 16 games. However, he wasn’t with the club in the Calder Cup playoffs as the Hornets beat the Rochester Americans in the finals for the championship. It was the final year for the Hornets. Instead, Joe ended his 1966-67 season in the CPHL with the Memphis Wings.
Expansion brought Joe his first National Hockey League action. In 1967-68, he played a single game for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their inaugural season. He also appeared in 56 games in the AHL with the Baltimore Clippers. He couldn’t help the Clippers get out of the basement in the eight team league.
Joe Daley – NHL
Between 1967-68 and 1971-72, Joe Daley played 106 games in the National Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. He was originally a prospect of the Red Wings but went to the Penguins fifth overall at the 1967 NHL Expansion Draft. He was the first player picked by Pittsburgh and came behind Terry Sawchuk (Los Angeles Kings), Bernie Parent (Philadelphia Flyers), Glenn Hall (St. Louis Blues) and Cesare Maniago (Minnesota North Stars).
Joe Daley Collection
He was then picked up by the newly formed Buffalo Sabres in the 1970 intraleague draft on June 9, 1970, just hours before the expansion draft. This made Daley the first player in Buffalo Sabres history.
In 1970-71, he split the action between Buffalo’s pipes with Roger Crozier. Daley played 38 games while Crozier appeared in 44. Dave Dryden also played in ten games for the Sabres. Buffalo found they could do without him, trading him to the Red Wings after that first season for Don Luce and Mike Robitaille.
Daley appeared in 29 games for Detroit in 1971-72, backing up Al Smith. Joe and Al played together previously with the 1969-70 Baltimore Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Also seeing time for the Red Wings that season was Andy Brown. Brown was also a member of the Clippers from 1968-69 to 1970-71. All three goalies would soon after make the move to the World Hockey Association.
Joe Daley – WHA
When the World Hockey Association formed for the 1972-73 season, Joe Daley happily jumped ship to move closer to home with the Winnipeg Jets. He remained with the Jets for the entire life of the WHA, retiring after the 1978-79 season.
Over his seven seasons with Winnipeg, Joe played in 308 regular season games, posting 12 shutouts and a 3.37 goals against average. He was a First Team All-Star in 1975-76 and was inducted into the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010, the inaugural season.
In five of seven seasons, the Jets reached the the finals. In three of those seasons, the Jets won the Avco World Trophy championship. In 1975-76, they defeated Gordie Howe and the Houston Aeros. In 1977-78, the Jets beat Gordie Howe and the New England Whalers. In 1978-79, the final championship was over Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers.
Joe Daley – Rookie Card
The Joe Daley rookie card appears as number 188 in the 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee NHL hockey card set. He is shown with the Pittsburgh Penguins with no career stats. O-Pee-Chee was confident that Daley would play a prominent role with the Penguins.
His two other NHL hockey cards show up in the 1969-70 and 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee sets. In 1969-70, he is shown with the Penguins and in 1971-72, he is shown with the Red Wings. He never got on a card as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, despite 1970-71 with Buffalo being his top NHL season.
Joe Daley Career Stats
|1965-66||San Francisco Seals||WHL||7||1||0||0||2.39|
|1971-72||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||29||0||2||0||3.15|