Carolina placed Michael Leighton on waivers today, adopting with some permanence Manny Legace as Cam Ward's backup once he returns from his leg-slicing (criiiiinge) injury on Wednesday.
Assuming he doesn't get picked up (name an NHL team that needs him), add him to a growing list of goaltenders who are being shoved down the depth charts in their organizations. Valiquette was the most recent at the NHL level before him.
And every time that happens in the NHL, an AHL goalie gets the shaft, and then an ECHL goalie gets the shaft. The lower you go in the hierarchy of leagues, the more painful it gets for a player... all the way to not having a job at all.
This is great for fans of lower minor leagues, who only stand to benefit from the "underemployed" goalies being thrust into their welcoming arms. Roster moves at that level seem to always be "best player moving up" rather than "upgraded player coming down." So, from that perspective, there's a tiny part of me that's happy for those fans.
Naturally, however, the other 95% of me just feels goddamn awful for these goalies who are being shuttled down to leagues that are below the level where they've proven they can be successful. They're suffering not only the professional disappointment and usually a less-than-stellar travel schedule, but also being away from home for weeks on end, never really knowing when they'll get back, living in a hotel, fitting in with a new team, and a bevy of other inconveniences.
Chris Holt is one of those goalies. He lost the numbers game in the Senators organization, but Pascal Leclaire's broken face was a lucky break for Holt, who finally got the call up to Binghamton from Elmira and has had 2 shutouts in 3 games up with Bingo. But eventually Leclaire's face will become one with itself again and Holt will likely head back up the road to Elmira
Michael Sharp, the Baby Sens beat writer, asked Holt about his experience in the ECHL.
"Elmira was a great experience. There's a lot more work down there for a goaltender in that league, you know, all across the board. All the goalies have a lot more -- there's a lot more high quality scoring chances there. And so, when I come up here, and have a team that plays as sound defensively as our team, it makes for a little bit of an easy transition. It feels like a little bit of an easier game than it does down there."
And as I've blogged about here, I've seen the same thing with Brusty in Florida. Hell, I see it in my own games... the less organized the hockey, the harder it is to play goal. And the lower level hockey you having playing in front of you, the less organized it is.
In the end, all you can really do about it is take what's thrown at you and try to have fun anyway and play hard in hopes that someone above you in the pecking order will have a fall from grace--or a high ankle sprain--and you'll take their job.
But sometimes you just can't be all "stiff upper lip" and you need to let it out. Sometimes you need to just sit down with someone and say, "Ahhhh nuts. This fucking sucks."
So, because I'm sympathetic to the cause and have a bottomless well of goalie love to give, I'm forming a support organization for all the displaced goalies out there in the professional ranks.
Ms.Conduct's Home for Homeless Goalies offers:
- Ego massages ("You were screened, baby. Nobody could have stopped that. That puck had eyes. And have I told you the way your hair sticks out of the holes in the top of your mask is so charming? Those pads look better on you than on [rival].")
- Chocolate chip cookies during group sessions
- Jello shots during "group sessions"
- Warm, enthusiastic hugs that last slightly longer than your wife or girlfriend feels is really appropriate
- Laundry service (meaning, I point you to the washer and dryer and buy detergent and dryer sheets in bulk)
Privacy and respect for your superstitions and charming quirks are a top priority. Fly your freak flag. We're all goalies here. We understand. Unless you're really weird, and then, well... you're on your own. (Looking at you, Pogge.)
We'll get through this together, boys.