MacDonald flips audition into contract
CALGARY, AB -- All Joey MacDonald needed was an opportunity.
He took care of the rest.
Getting the opportunity to tend to the crease with the Calgary Flames after being plucked off waivers in February, MacDonald was able to parlay his two month audition into a one-year, $925,000 deal inked Saturday.
"We talked for a couple days and it was a no-brainer for me to come back here," MacDonald said. "The last couple months everything went good. When a team picks you up off waivers they're taking a chance and they took the chance and it worked out really good here for me. I'm excited. We've got a lot of young guys here. The way we're playing now, it's looking forward for next year."
As much of a no-brainer it was for MacDonald, it might've been an easier decision from a Calgary perspective.
Looking for stability between the pipes, MacDonald provided just that and more for coach Bob Hartley.
"I think it's pretty unanimous," Hartley said. "If you ask the players or the staff, the trainers and coaches, he's a great guy plus you look at his performances. You add his personality to his performances and I think it makes plenty of sense we keep him.
"You win with good people and he certainly is a very, very classy good person. He has many great values. He's a great worker. I think that he can do a lot of good stuff for us on the ice and off the ice and that's why I was very supportive."
In 18 games this season, MacDonald backstopped Calgary to seven wins along with a 2.91 goals against average and .900 save percentage.
As good as he was in 969 minutes of action -- the most for a goaltender not named Miikka Kiprusoff since the Flames acquired the franchise face in 2003 -- MacDonald's value extends well beyond in-game performances.
"I was very supportive of when Jay first talked to me about what I thought about Mac and what we wanted to get accomplished over here," Hartley said. "He's a great veteran. He's exactly what we want to build with the kind of people we want to build a winning team over here. He's great. He's played great. He's a great guy in the locker room. This is a good day for Mac."
A reward for what the journeyman goaltender has endured over the last year.
A bulging disc in his back resulted in months of rehabilitation and put his career in jeopardy. Once cleared by doctors to return, MacDonald was waived by the Red Wings.
The Flames gave him an opportunity to rehabilitate his career. MacDonald obliged.
"I was still out with my back. 11 months, I never played," he said. "I thought I was going to end up playing down in the minors in Grand Rapids and they gave me an opportunity. That's exciting. I came here and got to play. I didn't sit on the bench. I played and gave the team a chance to win. It worked out so I'm really excited to come back next year and be a part of this great organization."
It's still uncertain who MacDonald will share the crease with next season. With Kiprusoff set to make a decision about whether to return or hang up the pads, MacDonald could be splitting the duty with a new face.
"You're never rich enough at the goaltending position so I think what Mac has accomplished with us, he's put definitely money in the bank but at next training camp, what's going to be the goaltending situation? I have absolutely no clue," Hartley said. "We'll see what Kipper's plans are and then we have (Reto) Berra, we have (Karri) Ramo, we have lots of goalies but we'll drop the puck and may the two best goalies win."
That uncertainty doesn't phase MacDonald.
"Whoever they bring in, they bring in," he said. "I can't do anything about that. I just have to take care of my job and I'm sure I will."
An easy perspective to have considering MacDonald wondered if he'd even still be in the league months ago before getting a chance in Calgary.
"I didn't know if I was going to play a game with my back and stuff," he said. "I got back, got healthy and figured I'd be in the minors. Next thing you know, I played 18 games here two months later. It worked out really good."