Question: When does seven equal one?
Answer: When it’s the Flyers' goalie carousel, which took yet another turn for the bizarre Friday after it was announced that Michal Neuvirth had injured or re-injured something and that the team has plucked 35-year-old career journeyman Mike McKenna from Vancouver via the waiver wire.
The silver lining for those who want to see Carter Hart play for the Flyers right now is that he will, beginning with Saturday’s matinee against Johnny Gaudreau’s high-potency Calgary Flames. McKenna is expected to arrive in time to dress as his backup, leaving Alex Lyon as the Phantoms' netminder while Anthony Stolarz and Brian Elliott continue to mend from their respective lower body injuries.
Prior to Thursday’s 5-3 loss to Carolina, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher issued updates on a slew of players that included the two injured goaltenders. Stolarz and Elliott are expected to begin skating this weekend. It is hoped that Elliott will begin practicing with the team in 10 to 14 days.
In the meantime, it is Hart’s team to backstop. The 20-year-old rookie was yanked early into the second period last Monday after surrendering three goals in 10 shots. Before that, however, Hart had provided some rare stability for a team now tied with Ottawa and Los Angeles for the worst point total in the NHL, allowing two goals or less in three of his four previous starts and winning his first two games as a pro.
“That next day in Nashville after our game in Carolina, I was determined to have a good morning skate,” Hart said after practice on Friday. “With the little practice that we have, I have to make sure that I’m making every practice with purpose. So when it comes to game time that I’m ready and fully prepared to be at my best."
McKenna becomes the seventh goaltender rostered by the Flyers this season, and if he plays even a minute, it will be an NHL record. He appeared in 10 games with Ottawa prior to being acquired by Vancouver in a multi-player trade on Jan. 2. Over a 14-year career, which has included stops in the EHL, AHL and NHL, the undrafted journeyman has an NHL record of 7-16-3 with a 3.58 GAA and .892 save percentage, and has logged 467 games in the AHL and backstopped two different Calder Cup finalists over the last two seasons.
McKenna learned of his trade to Vancouver while the Canucks visited Ottawa, forcing him to walk from the home to the visitors dressing room with his equipment in a large trash bag. The Canucks then flew to Montreal and then Toronto, where he learned that the Flyers had claimed him.
Asked if he had ever been a part of anything like the goaltending situation in Philadelphia, McKenna laughed.
“You last long enough in the minors, you see things you can only imagine," he said. "When I was in the ECHL, we picked up a couple of players at a rest stop once. You want to trade road stories I can give you plenty.”
He is married with two young daughters. On Friday, his wife Rachel wrote a string of tweets from their home in Belleville, Ontario, that brought the reality of his chosen career into sharp focus.
“I have a 2-year-old who cries and occasionally thinks her daddy doesn’t love her anymore because he hasn’t lived with us in 2 months ... I have a 5-year-old whose dad is her hero and she misses him so much … I am doing everything in my power to keep my kids happy, engaged, and understanding of how much their dad loves them and how cool it is that he gets to play hockey for a ‘job’ at all," she tweeted. "But they’re little. They just want dad around to give them hugs, to see their school concerts ... We love and cherish what hockey has given us. It’s just not always easy.”