Pictou’s Joey MacDonald talks with a young goalie during a hockey camp in Trenton earlier this week. MacDonald is leaving Tuesday to play with the Detroit Red Wings and their affiliate team. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS
With 13 minutes left on the clock, Pictou’s Joey MacDonald was called in to play for Detroit against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The score was 2-2 and the weight of the win fell on his shoulders.
MacDonald has spent the majority of his career in the NHL as a back-up watching from the bench and waiting for an opportunity to shine.
But the way he approaches practice is as if he’s the No.1
“I prepare every game like I’m playing. That’s the only way to do it,” he said. “Quite a few times this past year I ended up going in relief of (Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard). All of a sudden boom you’re thrown in.”
Such was the case during the game against Toronto. But MacDonald proved his preparation paid off and got the 3-2 win.
There is no room for errors in those moments – at least not if you want more playing time, he says.
“That’s one thing in that league, you’ve got to be ready at all times,” he said. “You can’t take a night off because if you do get the opportunity and not play well you never know when your next time is going to be.”
MacDonald had a 4-4-1 record in 11 appearances with the Red Wings last season and had the opportunity to sit on the bench through playoffs as back-up. Even though he didn’t have the chance to play during their run, he says it was an amazing experience.
“It was my first time getting an opportunity to be there,” he said. “The momentum, the crowd, everything is so much different in playoffs.”
This summer MacDonald courted some offers from overseas teams but following the advice of friends decided to keep pursuing his dream of playing in the NHL with the
In July he signed a two-year contract with Detroit. The deal is a two-way contract for the first season and one-way for the second. MacDonald will earn $550,000 if he plays in the NHL and $105,000 if he plays for the farm team in Grand Rapids. The second season is a one-way NHL contract for $550,000.
“I love it in Detroit. I don’t want to go anywhere else,” he said.
Because of the uncertainty of whether he’ll be playing in Detroit or Grand Rapids this season, MacDonald said his family will be staying in Pictou where his son is looking forward to going to school and playing hockey.
While it’s hard to be away from them during the hockey season, MacDonald said he is just making the most of his summer with them and like last season they’ll plan to come visit on a regular basis.
He’s still unsure what will happen when the two-year contract is over
“I’m sure eventually I’ll end up going overseas, but right now I’m back where I want to be,” he said.