Another day, another prosecution exhibit in the case of the brazen lunacy that it was to play goal in the NHL without a mask. As noted in a post earlier today, Andy Brown of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the last of his kind in that regard.
But: that’s not him in the photograph above, despite what the league itself would have you think via the page it dedicates to Brown’s NHL numbers on NHL.com, which looks like this:
Both there and here above, the Pittsburgh goaltender pictured doing his best to stymie Montreal’s Peter Mahovlich is in fact Joe Daley. The Penguins were Daley’s first NHL team: he helped guard their nets in 1968-69 and ’69-70 before moving on to stints with the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings. Like Brown, he eventually made the leap to the WHA, wherein Daley was a fixture in the Winnipeg Jets’ net for seven seasons. In November of 1970, when this photograph adorned the back cover of the Canadiens’ game-day program, Andy Brown was playing for the AHL Baltimore Clippers: he wouldn’t make his NHL debut until the following season, with the Detroit Red Wings.
As for Daley’s NHL.com page … the photograph looks like him, too.
Daley, at point, wore a mask in practice but not in games. In ’71, he talked to Joe Falls of the Detroit Free Press about the reasons why. “I know it may sound strange,” he said, “but I think I’m a better goalie without the mask. I’ve got to be more alert. I know the puck is coming and I’ve got to be ready for it, I’d say I see about 90 per cent of the shots — I mean enough so I can bob my head out of the way.”
“I’ve had goaltenders tell me they give up five or six goals a season because of the mask — pucks they lose at their feet, for instance. Well, I can’t afford that. Five or six goals can mean the difference in five or six games.”
Daley played his first WHA season without a mask. He changed his mind the following year, at age 30. In October of 1973, for the first time in his ten-year pro career, he donned a mask in a game as the Jets fell to the Oilers in Edmonton by a score of 6-4.
Why the change? Asked, he answered: “because allowing a goal isn’t as important as it used to be … my life is.”