Mike McKenna

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Hockey’s ultimate journeyman goalie calls it a career

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Mike McKenna isn’t sure where to start on the craziest stories from his long and winding road of a career.

”We could be here forever,” he said. ”I mean, do you want to talk about me, or do you want to talk about when the bus caught on fire? Or do you want to talk about swiping a Volvo on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge? These are things that have happened. You can’t make that up.”

McKenna’s path through hockey looks stranger than fiction. The journeyman goaltender announced his retirement Tuesday after stints with 15 NHL organizations and 22 professional teams in all, enough material to fill a novel.

”I never expected this, and it turned into my career path and that’s just the way it was,” McKenna said in an interview during the Stanley Cup Final earlier this year. ”To me, yeah, it was crazy. There has been a lot of stops along the way. But I just made so many friends, I’ve been in so many places and got to experience so much, I feel like I’ve had a pretty full life in the game with 15 organizations to go through.”

McKenna said his eldest daughter being in school changed the equation. The 36-year-old had been open to playing another season but wanted to be rooted in one place and joked that he would’ve been the only No. 3 goalie in the league with a no-movement clause.

Instead, he will move on after playing 15 games for the Lightning, 10 for the Senators, four for the Blue Jackets, two each for the Stars and Devils, and one apiece for the Coyotes and Flyers. Since being a sixth-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2002, he played in the NCAA, ECHL, American Hockey League and NHL.

McKenna spent a vast majority of that time in the AHL, which gave him some colorful stories. He thinks it’s hard to top the Portland Pirates’ bus catching on fire on the way to a game.

”We had a right rear (tire) blow and I don’t why it happened, but something lit up a hydraulic line or something,” McKenna said. ”Next thing you know, the right rear of the bus was on fire and the flames were licking over the side of it and our bus driver got off and told us in the middle of the road in Rhode Island or Mass or whoever we were: ‘Everybody off! We’re on fire!”’

McKenna and his teammates had to play that night and lost. He blames it on smoke inhalation.

So many stops along the way provided McKenna with 18 different masks, all of which he still has. The jerseys? Well, that was more difficult.

”You don’t get to keep jerseys from teams. They don’t give you those,” McKenna said. ”I have most of my jerseys, and I’ve probably been given a jersey by a half-dozen teams I would say, but the other ones I’ve either had to pay for or have traded to get.”

It takes time just to list the teams he’s played for professionally: Las Vegas, Norfolk, Milwaukee, Omaha, Portland, Tampa Bay, Lowell, Albany, New Jersey, Binghamton, Peoria, Springfield, Columbus, Arizona, Syracuse, Texas, Dallas, Belleville, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley.

Last season, a trade and subsequent waiver claim by Philadelphia gave him three teams in four days.

”I’ve never done that before,” McKenna said. ”With goalies, this can happen. You order some white gear and hope it shows up soon.”

McKenna and his family have had a house in St. Louis for a decade now and will make it home. The need for white gear and a new mask is over, but not before he could indulge in some self-professed ”dark comedy” about bouncing around like a puck on choppy ice.

”There’s probably a lot of punch lines out there associated with what I’ve done and you have to be able to laugh at yourself in life,” he said.

Talbot to help Flyers make NHL history as eighth goalie used this season

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Exactly two weeks after the Philadelphia Flyers acquired Cam Talbot from the Edmonton Oilers, the 31-year-old netminder will finally debut for his new team.

Talbot was the odd-man out after the deal, sitting in the pressbox for his first three games as a Flyer. Since Carter Hart’s injury, he’s been backing up Brian Elliott. Friday night he’ll finally get a start and help make NHL history in the process.

When the puck drops against the New Jersey Devils with Talbot in net, the Flyers will become the first NHL team to use eight  goalies in one season. They had been stuck on seven since Mike McKenna‘s start in early January and tied with the 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques, 2002-03 St. Louis Blues and the 2007-08 Los Angeles Kings.

Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon was one the seven who got a turn in goal for that Nordiques team.

Here’s a look at the games played for each of the eight goalies the Flyers have used this season:

Carter Hart – 22
Brian Elliott – 19
Anthony Stolarz – 12
Calvin Pickard – 11
Michal Neuvirth – 7
Alex Lyon – 2
Mike McKenna – 1
Cam Talbot – 0

The opportunity for Talbot arose because Friday’s game is the second game of a back-to-back following Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Philadelphia is still clinging to slim playoff hopes with a six-point gap between them and the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Talbot hasn’t played since Feb. 9, but is certainly eager to get back between the pipes again. Hart is expected to return soon, so who knows when Talbot will get another look after Friday. In the meantime, enjoying making history!

“I don’t know if it’s something you really want to be a part of as a goalie or not,” Talbot said on Thursday via the Inquirer. “But here we are.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Trade: Flyers add Talbot, Oilers open up space for Sekera

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Cam Talbot is lucky No. 8.

The Philadelphia Flyers added Talbot to the fold late Friday night, acquiring the 31-year-old goaltender from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Anthony Stolarz.

Should Talbot get into one of the Flyers’ final 25 games — which he likely will — they will be the first team in NHL history to use eight goalies in a season. That just shows how weird this season has been on Broad Street. After some early season struggles, which saw general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol fired within a 21-day span, they’ve ripped off a run that has seen them take 23 points from their last 14 games, putting them eight points out of an Eastern Conference wild card place and the third seed in the Metropolitan Division.

Emerging from the goalie carousel has been Carter Hart, the franchise’s goaltender of the future up until Dec. 17. He’s assumed the title of “goalie of the now” since after helping the Flyers win eight starts in a row and being a vital part of their recent run.

Talbot, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, comes to Philadelphia with an established relationship with Hart. The two have worked out together in the summer. “He’s a good mentor, a great guy, a good goalie,” Hart said on Thursday, adding that he called Talbot the night before his NHL debut for some advice.

This stablizes the goalie situation for the moment as Brian Elliott works his way back from injury down in the AHL on a conditioning stint and Michal Neuvirth is currently on injured reserve. In net had been Hart and Stolarz, the 25-year-old who was their second-round pick in 2012. Mike McKenna‘s been in the mix as well, but he’s only played twice since Dec. 28.

GM Chuck Fletcher will now get a good couple of months to see up close if Talbot, who’s posted a .909 even strength save percentage in 31 appearances with the Oilers, should be considered for an extension beyond this season and possibly act as a veteran backup/1B to Hart going forward.

This move for the Oilers helped them shed salary in order to have room to activate defenseman Andrej Sekera, who had surgery in August to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Stolarz can be a restricted free agent this summer, while they already have Mikko Koskinen locked up after extending the netminder for three years in January.

MORE: PHT NHL Trade Tracker

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Please welcome Mike McKenna to the Flyers’ goalie carousel

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Six goalies have played for the Philadelphia Flyers this season and there may very well soon be a seventh.

The Flyers plucked Mike McKenna off waivers on Friday, two days after the netminder was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Vancouver Canucks. Just another day in the crease for that organization.

“Mike provides our organization added depth as we continue to battle injuries at the goaltending position,” said Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher. “He is a veteran goaltender with a tremendous amount of professional experience.”

Here’s an overview of the Flyers’ current goaltending situation:

Brian Elliott remains out with a lower-body injury but is “progressing pretty well,” according to Fletcher. He could be practicing again within the next two weeks.

Michal Neuvirth is dealing with a lower-body injury, according to interim head coach Scott Gordon. He’s set to miss Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames and is considered day-to-day. He suffered the injury during Thursday night’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Anthony Stolarz may get back on the ice this weekend as he’s on the mend with a lower-body injury.

Carter Hart, who is healthy, has made five starts since being called up and posted a .900 even strength save percentage.

• Alex Lyon stays in the AHL and has helped the Phantoms win three of his last four starts.

• McKenna is a 35-year-old journeyman who’s played only 34 NHL games in his career while suiting up for nearly two dozen teams in The Show and the American Hockey League since 2006-07.

• Former GM Ron Hextall is still under contract with the team.

(Calvin Pickard was claimed on waivers by the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 29.)

The Flyers became the 14th team in NHL history to start six goalies in a season when Hart made his debut. Could McKenna help them make more history as lucky No. 7?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jackets sign World Juniors standout Dansk

On Thursday, Columbus signed Oscar Dansk — the 31st overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Dansk, 20, is considered to be one of the best young netminding prospects in hockey. He starred for Sweden at the 2014 World Juniors, earning Top Goaltender honors on the strength of a 1.79 GAA and .982 save percentage.

This past season, Dansk went 29-9-1 for OHL Erie, posting six shutouts with a 2.39 GAA and .909 save percentage. Along with fellow Otters goalie Devin Williams, Dansk captured the 2013-14 Dave Pinkney Trophy for the OHL’s top goaltending tandem.

While Sergei Bobrovsky is the club’s goalie of the present and future, there are opportunities for Dansk within the Columbus organization. Veterans Mike McKenna, Jeremy Smith and Curtis McElhinney are pending UFAs, leaving Dansk to battle with fellow youngsters Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo for minutes, presumably with AHL Springfield.