March 17, 2014
TORONTO- Drew MacIntyre has waited a long time for another opportunity to suit up in the NHL.
Prior to being called up from the Marlies on Saturday, MacIntyre’s last appearance in the NHL was a 35-minute relief spot for the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 25, 2011.
Since then the 30-year-old has played for five teams in three leagues, optimistic that one day he would make it back.
“I still think I can play in (the NHL),” said MacIntyre. “I’ve been one shot away many times and I believe it happens when it’s meant to happen.”
MacIntyre is expected to back-up James Reimer on Sunday against the Washington Capitals while Jonathan Bernier sits out with a lower-body injury.
With the Marlies, the Charlottetown native has posted a 25-15-3 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. Currently the club sits first in the North Division.
“He’s arguably the best goaltender in the AHL,” said Marlies head coach Steve Spott.
“I feel I’ve had a good year but I’m not that happy with it,” said MacIntyre. “Don’t get me wrong, but I feel I have another step to go. I expect a lot out of myself.”
MacIntyre has been the most relied on goaltender in the AHL this season- leading the league in both minutes played and shots faced while also being second in wins. He’s currently one victory away from tying Justin Pogge for the Marlies single-season record.
“I don’t look at leader boards, I’m happy with my game or I am not,” said MacIntyre. “It’s hard to say this guy’s top-10 in this or that. I just play and when I follow that stuff my head’s not in the right place.”
After his last appearance with the Sabres, MacIntyre finished the year with the AHL’s Rochester Americans before being released by Buffalo at the end of the 2012 season.
He then headed to the KHL, but only played two games for Prague Lev before breaking his ankle and losing his job. Healed up, he returned to North America, but struggled to find another gig at the AHL level and eventually signed with the ECHL’s Reading Royals. The AHL’s Hershey Bears called him up in an emergency once from Reading, but he never played.
After starting 10 games for Reading, an opportunity presented itself with the Marlies in February of 2013, which led to MacIntyre signing a pro-tryout contract and dressing for his fourth team in less than six months.
Finally, this summer he signed a one-year two-way deal with the Leafs, concluding what was the most humbling time of his professional career.
“I feel that I’m very thankful every day. I’m a Christian and to be able to do this is a privilege,” said MacIntyre. “I know it’s not going to happen forever.”
When MacIntyre, who was originally drafted by the Detroit Red Wings 121st overall in 2001, puts on the Maple Leaf jersey Sunday it will mark his 14th team in 11 pro seasons.
He has never started a game in the NHL- only making four relief appearances, two with the Sabres and two with the Vancouver Canucks in 2008.