Micheal Haley’s NHL career may be taking him from one coast to another, but Sarnia will always be home for the former Sting.
Haley, who played 178 games with Sarnia, signed a new contract to join the Florida Panthers after spending the last two seasons in the San Jose Sharks organization.
Having played with both the Islanders and Rangers during his NHL career, Haley says he’s looking forward to being back in the Eastern Conference.
“My family and I are really excited about the move to Florida, it’s beautiful down there,” says Haley. “Same time zone, a bit of a cheaper plane ride for family and friends and I’ll get a few more road games against some of those closer teams.”
Although he didn’t finish his OHL career with the Sting, as he was traded to the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors midway through the 2005-2006 season. He says his nearly four years in Sarnia had a major impact on him during his teenage years.
Born in Oshawa, Haley has called Sarnia home for the better part of a decade.
“I left home about 15 years ago to come play in Sarnia, met a girl here, married her and we’ve been living here ever since. We love it, we’re going to raise our kids here, Sarnia will always be home when hockey is done.”
Haley, who lives in Sarnia with his wife and two sons, says it’s a great place to raise a family.
“It’s a hidden gem, the weather is great down here, the price of real estate isn’t through the roof like it is in the Toronto area. It’s a great spot for our family.”
When his junior career came to an end, he spent three seasons in the minor leagues before making his NHL debut with the New York Islanders during the 2009-2010 season.
The 2016-2017 campaign was Haley’s first professional season where he didn’t play any games in the American Hockey League. He scored two goals and 12 points, to go along with 128 penalty minutes in 58 games. He’s never been shy to drop the gloves either, with 106 fights during his NHL career.
A Free Agent for the first time in his career, Haley wasted little time signing with the Panthers, inking his new deal when free agency opened on July 1st.
In Florida he’ll be reunited with Bob Boughner, who was an Assistant Coach with the Sharks during Haley’s two seasons in San Jose. Boughner was named Florida’s Head Coach earlier this off season, and Haley says that familiarity will help ease the transition.
“I know what he expects and what he’s looking for, I have an idea of what camp will be like which helps.”
Off the ice, he says he’s looking forward to the change of scenery.
“It’s a little slower paced down there, which I like. With Silicon Valley, there is a lot of hustle and bustle out there, I really like the feel in Florida.”
He says the fans in Florida have a similar passion for the game as he witnessed during his time in California.
“We had some great fans in San Jose, and I’m expecting something similar with the Panthers. They might not play the game themselves, but they love it, hockey is big there,” says Haley.
“During my brief visit there I could tell they were really excited for the season, and I hope we can put a solid product on the ice for them.”
Haley’s contract with the Panthers is the first one-way deal of his career, meaning it will be more difficult for the Panthers to send him down to their AHL affiliate. The two year deal is worth $1.65-million.