After 351 AHL games, 56 in the ECHL and two in the KHL, Drew MacIntyre will finally start his first National Hockey League contest tonight, as he gets the nod for Toronto when the Leafs take on the Panthers in Florida.
While it’ll be his first-ever start, this isn’t MacIntyre’s first foray into an NHL contest. The journeyman netminder has appeared in five games over the course of his career, all relief appearances, including one this year for Toronto — a 3-2 loss to New Jersey in which he replaced James Reimer and fared well, stopping all 14 shots faced.
Here’s more, from the Canadian Press:
The goaltender who gives MacIntyre inspiration is Tim Thomas, who didn’t make his first career NHL start until the age of 28 and didn’t get a real chance until after a sojourn to Europe showed what kind of performer he could become.
Family members and friends always bring up Thomas, now a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup-winner, to give MacIntyre hope. And he buys into that belief.
“He did it. I don’t see why I couldn’t do it,” MacIntyre said. “I’m not saying I’m going to be Tim Thomas if I get a chance, but I like to think I can compete well up here.”
If nothing else, MacIntyre should be given credit for the amount of travel he’s done over the last eight years. The list of cities he’s played in over that time? Manitoba (Winnipeg), Vancouver, Milwaukee, Chicago, Hamilton, Rochester, Buffalo, Prague, Reading and Toronto.
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, which reminds you that these guys are more than just numbers – whether those numbers be disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may only become more painful.
One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.
On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.
The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.
“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”
The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”
“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”
As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:
Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.
Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.
Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.
Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.