Game of goalie musical chairs is no conspiracy, says Feaster
Flames GM insists team is not setting the table to move on from workhorse Kiprusoff
Jeepers, for one position, there sure are a lot of moving parts.
Jay Feaster was on hand to explain the ramifications Tuesday morning at the Scotiabank Saddledome. His Calgary Flames had yet to begin practice, but the general manager was wearing his game face as he outlined recent developments in goal:
* Miikka Kiprusoff’s knee injury is more serious than originally thought. With a “slight Grade 2 sprain” of the medial collateral ligament, the workhorse will miss two more weeks.
* Joey MacDonald, a 33-year-old journeyman snatched off waivers Monday, had been long coveted by team brass.
* Leland Irving, with four consecutive appearances to his credit, will continue to carry the mail for the Flames.
* Danny Taylor, signed days ago to an NHL contract, is on waivers, the first step to returning him to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
So it’s simple.
Today’s tandem is Irving and MacDonald.
Kiprusoff is sidelined. Taylor is in the minors.
So simple, in fact, that Feaster appeared blown away by the topic of conspiracies. Namely, that the Flames are now busily (and secretly) making plans for life beyond No. 34.
Kiprusoff, 36, has only the 2013-14 campaign remaining on his contract.
“Conspiracy theorists are just awesome,” said Feaster, brimming with sarcasm. “The Oliver Stones of the world are just wonderful. I wish I was that bright, that I had all that time to sit around and conspire and think.
“Obviously, we all recognize where Kipper is in his career. But it isn’t a matter of standing around, saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Kipper got hurt for three weeks? Then we could test out what life would be without him.’ There isn’t any of that. We need to win games to be a playoff team.”
Another puck-stopping property, Karri Ramo, is finishing his KHL season with Omsk. While his numbers are tantalizing — 26-8-4, 1.98 goals-against average — Feaster indicated that the 26-year-old isn’t in the Flames’ plans this winter.
OK, short-term then.
What happens in two weeks?
Does Irving — having cemented the backup gig by outperform ing Henrik Karlsson, having proved his worth in recent action — get drummed back to the AHL?
What’s the message to Irving?
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” replied Feaster. “When Kipper is ready to go, we’ll determine who’s going to be the backup goaltender. That’s not something that’s written in stone, not something that’s been predetermined or preordained. What have you done for me lately? That’s the business we’re in. That’s how we’re all judged, from me right on through. And I think Leland Irving, thus far, has acquitted himself very, very well.
“The fact of the matter is, for the next two weeks we’re not going to have Kipper. So now we have Leland Irving, who’s trying to demonstrate that he wants to be a No. 1 (goalie) in the National Hockey League. We also have a 33-year-old backup, who has 101 games of experience on his resume.
“In terms of Leland, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing and put us in a situation where, two weeks from now, the answer’s obvious.’ ”
Irving, who’ll start Wednesday against the Dallas Stars, isn’t griping.
“It’s exciting,” said the 24-year-old. “You can’t ask for a better opportunity. I’m going to learn a lot in the next couple of weeks. I’m lucky enough to have (goalie coach) Clint Malarchuk along my side. He’s going to help me through it. As well Joey. We’re all partners in this together.
“We’ve got to be the backbone of this team and give these guys a chance to win every night.”
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
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