End of an era for Crusher grads
They are here for a season or two – perhaps three – and then they move on.
PICTOU – Joey MacDonald will play professional hockey in North America for at least one more year.
On Tuesday the 34-year-old Pictou native signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Montreal Canadiens organization. MacDonald is expected to play with their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, as Carey Price and Dustin Tokarski are currently slated to hold the two spots with the NHL club.
That doesn’t mean that he won’t be making a push to make it back to the show. Last season he played 11 games with the Calgary Flames, posting a 2.90 GAA and 0.890 save percentage, before 16 contests with their affiliate club, the Abbotsford Heat. In the AHL he had a 3.00 GAA and 0.909 save percentage.
“I’m going to try to make that jump,” said MacDonald in Wednesday’s interview with The News. “I know I played 30 some games at the NHL level with Calgary (over two seasons), so I’m still able to compete at that level. They have Price and Tokarski, but he (Tokarski) hasn’t played a lot in the NHL and he’s on a two-way contract to start out, so we’ll look at things more once we get to camp.”
With his contract ending with Calgary at the end of the 2013-14 season he was weighing his options for the upcoming year. His hope was to play in the AHL or NHL, but was also looking to Russia if there were no North American options.
“Going into July 1 (the day NHL free agency opened) I know there were about 30-35 free agent goalies from the AHL or NHL, so I knew there weren’t a lot of jobs,” he said. “About four or five days ago I spoke with Montreal and they expressed interest in having my join their organization. I knew I couldn’t pass on an opportunity to play with a great organization like Montreal, similar to my time spent in Detroit and Toronto.
“I wanted to play and had been talking to a few teams in Russia if July 1 didn’t work out. Either way I wanted to play a few more years.”
MacDonald may not be at the age of other active NHL goaltenders, with the oldest being Martin Brodeur, 42, or Tim Thomas a few years younger at 40, but he’s adjusted to being one of the old boys in recent years.
He became the oldest player on the Flames after Miikka Kiprusoff retired from Calgary. MacDonald said it’s been somewhat of a trend since he left Toronto in 2010.
“After Kipper retired I was the oldest guy in Calgary and it was the same in the AHL,” he said. “Next year I know I’ll be the old guy again.”
According to the current Montreal Canadiens roster only Andrei Markov (35) and Mike Weaver (36) are older than MacDonald. The closest player to his age on the Bulldogs is Martin St. Pierre (30).
“I’m really fortunate at my age to have teams interested in me still playing,” he said. “I look forward to keep on playing for a few more years to come.”
When he suited up for the Leafs in 2009 he garnered support by some of the loyal fans from the area. Now playing for one of Toronto’s biggest rivals he said he’s looking forward to an opportunity to suit up for another storied franchise.
“I think it will be a great time, especially playing with an organization like the Montreal Canadiens,” said MacDonald. “People and kids grow up wanting to do it, so hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to put on the jersey with the Habs sometime next season.”
• Has played with five NHL teams: Detroit, Boston, New York Islanders, Toronto and Calgary
• NHL numbers: 44-61-15, two shutouts, 3.00 GAA and 0.902 save percentage
• Has played with four AHL teams: Grand Rapids, Bridgeport, Toronto and Abbotsford
• AHL numbers: 144-125-11, 24 shutouts, 2.62 GAA and 0.913 save percentage
• Played with the Halifax Mooseheads and Peterborough Petes in major junior
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris