First Name: Joe
Last Name: DiPenta
Sport: Hockey
Inductee Type: Athlete
Year Inducted: 2023
Home Town: Cole Harbour
County: Halifax

In a community rich with hockey history, the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first player to bring the Stanley Cup home to Cole Harbour?” may surprise you. While answers such as future Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Famers Sidney and Nathan are honourable guesses, those entrenched into the fabric of the Maritime hockey scene will quickly and proudly provide you with the correct answer: Joe DiPenta.

Like many of his fellow Nova Scotian peers before him and after him, Joe’s story to the National Hockey League (NHL) is one of humble beginnings. Born in Barrie, Ontario, but moving to Cole Harbour at an early age to call it home, Joe excelled at hockey from the start. Hitting the ice at Cole Harbour Place, Joe’s play quickly caught the attention of others.

Paul Mason, a former coach of Joe’s noted, “I remember watching him in novice actually at Scotia One, and I remember seeing him take a wrist shot, and it went over the goalie’s shoulder, and that wasn’t something that happened too often. It was usually a two-bouncer or something from someone, but he shot it high. And then seeing him develop, he was just a poised hockey player at a young age.”

As Joe continued to develop in local arenas, important milestones began to take shape. One notable achievement was the opportunity to represent Nova Scotia at the 1995 Canada Winter Games. This memorable steppingstone would lead to his first year of junior hockey with the Smith Falls Bears of the Central Canada Hockey League.

After a successful rookie campaign with the Bears, Joe would make his way to Boston University on a full scholarship. His freshman year led to a dream come true with the Florida Panthers calling his name in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, selecting Joe in the third round, sixty-first overall.

In that same year, the Canadian Hockey League announced that for the first time in franchise history, the Halifax Mooseheads would be hosting the 2000 Memorial Cup. The allure of this and the opportunity to return to Nova Scotia prevailed for Joe, as he would leave Boston University after his sophomore year to don the uniform of his hometown team.

While the Mooseheads fell just short in their pursuit of the Presidents Cup and Memorial Cup, Joe’s only season with the team proved successful with him averaging nearly a point per game. It was time to step into the waters of professional hockey.

Electing to not sign with the club that drafted him, Joe signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. He made his professional debut with their affiliate team in the American Hockey League (AHL), the Philadelphia Phantoms. Though the 70’s and 80’s were far behind them, the mantra of the Broadstreet Bullies was not. It was in these first two years of professional hockey, Joe was exposed and learned the craft of tough hockey. In contrast, it was in Philadelphia too, where Joe would meet his future wife, Jessica (and unknowingly declined the opportunity to be a celebrity judge with Slash, but perhaps that is a story for another time).

Playing with the Chicago Wolves in his third professional season, Joe also had the privilege of being a part of a championship team as they claimed the 2002 Calder Cup. It was a small taste of what was to come.

The following season, Joe made his NHL debut with the Atlanta Thrashers. In three games, Joe scored his first career NHL goal and added an assist.

During the NHL lockout season in 2003-04, Joe was playing with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. He was coached by Norris Trophy winner, Randy Carlyle, and it was here that Joe quickly became one of Randy’s go-to guys. Carlyle went as far as changing the often-used phrase to help defenseman, “when in doubt, off the glass and out” to “when in doubt, DiPenta and out”. This was a fun and affectionate way to compliment Joe’s ability to simplify the game, a tool that Joe largely credits Carlyle for bringing out of him.

The next season, with the return of the NHL, Carlyle was hired by Brain Burke to serve as the Head Coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. An important piece of business for Carlyle was to bring Joe to sunny California. At the age of 26, Joe would become an NHL regular on what would become one of the greatest teams in NHL history.

Entering the 2006-07 season, it was cup or bust for the Ducks. With a defence core including Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, Joe would play an important depth role on a team focused on this goal. And they delivered, beating the Ottawa Senators in 5 games to win the Stanley Cup. This accomplishment put Joe into a very small and elite group of players who have won both the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup.

Reflecting on this moment, the Stanley Cup is certainly the pinnacle of Joe’s career. Joe suited up in over 500 professional hockey games, including 174 of those in the NHL. While Joe held the Stanley Cup over his head for only approximately 6 seconds, his love of the game and his love for people continues to leave an immeasurable legacy in his community.

*Article by Ryan Francis*


Stanley Cup winner, 2007
Calder Cup winner, 2002
Played more than 600 professional hockey games, including 174 NHL games
QMJHL All-Star with the Halifax Mooseheads
Represented Team Atlantic at the World Under-17 Championship, 1995
Represented Nova Scotia at the Canada Winter Games, 1995