Columns, Sports

Why Joey MacDonald doesn’t matter

Things we know:

  • Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff has a sprained MCL and is due to be out of the lineup for at least two more weeks.
  • This makes me sad.
  • Leland Irving is the de-facto number one goaltender for your Calgary Flames during Kip’s absence.
  • Irving has been actually pretty great
  • Joey MacDonald has been claimed by the Flames on waivers from whatever the hell team it was he was playing on (Detroit?  I should research these things)
  • He is to be called Joey. and not Joe (Or Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadu.  Precedent has been set on this one.  The Leafs fans used to call him this, and the Flames have made it a mission to take EVERYTHING that used to be tied to the Maple Leafs.  Our hands are tied)

Depth is a funny thing.  you either have it, or you don’t.

Actually, that’s a pretty black and white sentiment, so I guess depth isn’t funny at all.

Regardless, when it comes to the immediate availability of goaltending in this city, there is less of it than there may seem.  Sure, Jon Gillies, Joni Ortio, Laurent Brossoit, and Kari Ramo might be the future of Flames puck stopping (and a tantalizing list that sure looks like it may be, my word, look at all them listed like that in one place), but none of them are available to Calgary in a non emergency basis, if at all.

It’s like being a kid with a bountiful supply of one of a kind action figure, hermetically sealed in their original packaging for all eternity, never to be played with, because otherwise it loses it’s value.

It’s an even bigger tease in Abbotsford, where Calgary’s AHL affiliate, the Heat, ply their trade amongst, oh, like a thousand people a game.  The crease is patrolled by AHL journeymen Danny Taylor and Barry Brust, and until the newly inked Taylor signed on the line after Kiprusoff”s injury required immediate replacements, neither of them are officially property of the Calgary Flames.

(Except Taylor is now.  We’ve been over this.  we’re good here)

This wouldn’t have been a big issue if not for the fact that both Brust and Taylor are having amongst the best seasons of their respective careers.  Taylor, who had logged the most mileage between the posts by a long shot before his promotion to the Saddledome (before promptly being sent back down once Ol’ MacDonald was acquired), going 13-9-1 with a .930 SV%.

Brust, while playing less games, has been even more impressive, going 11-8-2 with a .934 SV%, while breaking a 56 year old AHL record held by one Johnny Bower for not letting any goals in for the most amount of time (268 minutes, if you’re keeping score), all while earning an all star nod, and cult icon status in Flames and Heat circles. He’s intrepid and fascinates you terribly.

I mention this because goaltending is always a hot commodity, and you can never have enough, and there is nothing stopping an NHL team from swooping in and plucking Barry Brust  out from right underneath Calgary’s big, collective nose.  It didn’t hurt their prospects that they both individually entered their renaissance while the whole world was watching in the midst of a debilitating NHL lockout.  Scouts were looking.  There was speculation one or both of Brust and Taylor could be offered shiny new NHL contracts.

Another scenario is that same old thing where someone else suffers another freak injury, and THEN what do you do?

Well that’s when you look to Joey MacDonald.

Which is why it was perplexing ’round these parts when the media went full ham on the acquisition, calling it “a slap in the face” to Leland Irving, who by all accounts has been very good in his role as the starting tender.  “Why would they bring in MacDonald?  Is it to compete with Irving?  Do they not think he’s been good enough?”

Idiots.  All of them.

Reminder to everyone asking the questions: It’s Joey MacDonald.  He’s a journeyman, who has bounced around the NHL, AHL, and ECHL.  He’s a perfectly fine goaltender, and wonderful example of perseverance when chasing your dream, but he’s not the guy you expect to carry the load.  For anyone.  He’s just not that guy.  When you’ve been property of various NHL teams for 11 seasons, and only have 31 wins, you’re doing it wrong if you’ve overloaded his basket with all your precious, precious eggs.

Depth.  He’s depth!  The team traded Big Hank Karlsson, and Barry Brust could be gone at a moment’s notice.  Why wouldn’t any team cover their bases?  The Flames “targeted” MacDonald, they say, and claim they would have plucked him off the wire regardless of Kiprusoff’s health crisis.


It would not be weird to have 4 goaltenders on their roster.  All teams have 4 goaltenders on their roster.  It’s a chain of command, where you move up a rung every time the guy ahead of you tweaks a knee.  When Leland Irving tweaks a knee, we can pay attention to Joey MacDonald, at least until Kipper gets back.

Because when that inevitably comes to fruition, and Miikka reclaims his rightful place between the 6 x 4 throne, then you can talk about Irving vs. MacDonald all you want, which will be nice, but that’s the exact juncture in the entire grim scenario where the conversation becomes moot.


Do you like the Spectator Tribune?  We like you.  Do you want to keep reading the quality reads finely crafted by the auteurs of this fine site?  So do we.  But we need your help, via everyone’s favourite form of philanthropy, CROWD SOURCING!  If you want to lend a hand, or a buck, hit up friends!