The future is bright for Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg, according to former Winnipeg Jets goaltender Joe Daley.
Hellebuyck signed a new contract with the Jets on Thursday that will keep him in Winnipeg for at least the next six seasons.
Daley has served as somewhat of a mentor to Hellebuyck since the young netminder arrived in Winnipeg. Daley initially invited Hellebuyck to come to his sports card and framing store on St. Mary’s Avenue to sign autographs for fans.
“It seemed that right off the bat we struck up a common chord being goalies, and I would like to call Connor a friend,” Daley said at his store on Thursday.
“He’s become a friend of our whole family… We think the world of him. We think he’s not only an outstanding player, but an outstanding individual, and our relationship with him I hope will grow now that he’s gonna be here for quite some time.”
Daley said he hasn’t gone into too much detail with the advice he’s given to Hellebuyck.
“Enjoy yourself, enjoy Winnipeg, enjoy the game, play it to the best of your ability and good things will happen.”
Daley grew up in East Kildonan and played seven season for the original Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association in the 1970’s. He doesn’t think signing a big contract will have a negative effect on Hellebuyck.
“When a player signs — not an enormous contract, but one that he’s worthy of — the pressure of living up to that contract will be created on its own,” Daley said. “I think Connor’s got the mental makeup to handle that really well. He knows what it takes to win, he knows what it takes to play in this market and I think he’ll deal with that in the right way.”
Daley said if he gets support from his team, Hellebuyck could be looking at long-term success as a Jet.
“As well as his team plays in front of him is obviously gonna come into play big time. And I feel that he’ll be the support for his teammates,” Daley suggested.
“Now it’s their turn to support him and get him those few goals every night and I know that the victories will come along with that.”
And although Daley doesn’t see Hellebuyck very often, he hopes that maybe the netminder can make some time for him once he gets settled in.
“Maybe he’s gonna now buy a home in Winnipeg and spend some time here which would be wonderful. Obviously if that happens maybe we can get together for a golf game.”
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