Defenceman Greg Joly was supposed to be the foundation of the Washington Capitals in the first few seasons. He ended up being a solid blueliner who played 365 career games. Joly might have turned out better had he been allowed to develop in the minors instead of being thrown to wolves on one of the weakest teams in NHL history.
The native of Calgary, Alberta enjoyed a stellar junior career with the Regina Pats from 1971 to 1974. He registered 204 career points and was selected to the WCJHL first all-star team in 1973 and 1974. In 1974 he led the Pats to the Memorial Cup championship and was named the tournament's MVP. That summer his life changed when the expansion Washington Capitals chose him first overall at the 1974 Amateur Draft.
The young blueliner hurt his hamstring in training camp and experienced a slow start to the season. In early December he was starting to play well when he was hit with a serious knee injury. Joly fought gamely for two years but was beginning to collapse under the weight of unrealistic expectations. His confidence was hurt by coach Tom McVie's rigid system that did not allow him to rush with the puck. When he was finally let loose, the Capitals lacked a solid partner for Joly who could cover up for him when he rushed forward.
In November 1976 he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for veteran enforcer Bryan Watson. Joly became an effective role player in Motown and remained there until 1983. He was utilized on the power play as well the penalty killing unit but was never dominant. He was eventually surpassed on the Wings' depth chart and sent to the minors. After four years with the AHL's Adirondack Red Wings Joly retired in 1986.