Stars’ Game 1 Hero Joel Hanley’s Tale of Tragedy, Triumph and Faith


At the 5:40 mark of the first period Saturday night – at the age of 29, playing in his 434th pro game in his seventh season for his eighth team in his third league – Joel Hanley jumped into the slot, took a perfect pass from Roope Hintz and went high blocker for the first goal of his NHL career. If you’re going to wait that long to score your first, there are worse times than Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final to get it.

As Joel Hanley sat on the Dallas Stars’ bench in a daze after the goal, he thought a little bit about the long and winding journey he’d taken to be in that moment at that time, about how he almost gave it all up to become a firefighter in his first year of pro, how playing in the Cup final was so far removed from his days of playing Jr. C hockey in his hometown after being an overwhelmed 16-year-old at the London Knights training camp. He thought about his parents, Robert and Roseanne, and reflected on everything they’ve sacrificed and all they’ve endured along the way. And he thought about his older brother, Jordon, because Jordon and hockey have been intimately intertwined through his entire life. Every time his skates hit the ice, no matter what level he’s playing or where, Joel Hanley thinks about his older brother.