Jimi St. John.
Drew MacIntyre has backed up dozens of goalies. Many weren’t as well known as the netminders listed above.
At 29, the Charlottetown native is on his 13th pro team in just nine years. Lucky number 13 is the Toronto Marlies for whom MacIntyre has surrendered just two goals over as many games.
The Marlies signed MacIntyre last week when James Reimer sustained a knee injury that prompted the callup of Jussi Rynnas. Reimer has begun skating. The countdown has already begun for Drew MacIntyre.
Most wandering goalies pine for a home. MacIntyre is no different. “All I want to do,” he said in an interview “is go somewhere and find a place to stay for a while.”
If you are looking for evidence that life really isn’t fair, the trials of the itinerant goalie are a great place to start.
More often than not their departure is determined not by their own play but by the return of a more established or expensive incumbent. “There’s always someone coming on, always a young guy,” MacIntyre said. “I haven’t always chosen to go to the teams I went to.”
Drafted in the fourth round by Detroit in 2001, MacIntyre has played for the Toledo Storm, Grand Rapids Griffins, Manitoba Moose, Milwaukee Admirals, Chicago Wolves, Hamilton Bulldogs, Rochester Americans, Reading Royals, Lev Praha, the Prague entry in the KHL, the Hershey Bears and now the Marlies. Sandwiched in all those games: two games with the Vancouver Canucks in 07-08 and two precious appearances with the Buffalo Sabres last season.
MacIntyre signed on to play in Prague this summer but lost his job when he broke his ankle during an on-ice training session. “By the time I was ready to come back,” he said, “they had made other plans.”
MacIntyre considered quitting. He asked his wife Karen. “Play until they won’t let you play anymore,” she said. “Then find a way to keep playing.”
One of the best ways to evaluate a player’s age is to trace his use of the word ‘we’.
When a young player says “we got traded” or “we got cut” they are referring to themselves and their agents. When a veteran says we, as MacIntyre does, he is referring to his wife.
Right now, Karen and the couple’s two young daughters are living in a hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Drew and Karen have been together since his rookie year in Toledo. Four-year-old Mullen was born in Milwaukee. Sallie, ten months, took her first breath in Rochester.
“There weren’t any other girlfriends or wives that first year,” MacIntyre said. “She lived alone in downtown Toledo. I definitely got a good one.”
The disposable element of the wandering goalie is also a virtue. Players such as MacIntyre keep popping up because of the experiences they have accrued in journeying from minor league town to minor league town.
Leafs GM Dave Nonis uses the word able and resilient to describe why he plucked MacIntyre out of the pile of at-large goalies. The two worked together in 2006 when Nonis brought him to the Canucks number one affiliate in Winnipeg. Current Leafs goalie coach Rick St. Croix also worked with MacIntyre with the Moose.
“We knew he could come into a situation that was a little difficult because of the number of players out of the lineup with the Marlies,” Nonis said. “You need a player with a pretty strong constitution”
MacIntyre makes one modification to his hotel rooms. He puts his Bible by the phone.
Central to his life is the understanding that all appearances to the contrary there is a plan and that a diet sometimes rich in heartbreak is part of that plan. The best goalies let the puckhandler make the first move.
“If I thought this was all random I would have quit,” MacIntyre said. “Everywhere I’ve gone there have been things to learn.”
“I feel like I’m doing what God wants me to do. When I’m supposed to do something else, I will.”