Alex Lyon slept in his own bed Thursday night.
That’s the good news.
The bad news, at least if you are Alex, is that he has gone, in a very short time, from being a starting goaltender for a playoff-bound NHL team to a goaltender without a job at either that or the AHL level.
Lyon was promoted to the Flyers from Lehigh Valley on Feb. 11. For the 45 days that followed, until he was “loaned’’ back to Lehigh Valley prior to the Flyers game Wednesday night in Colorado, he was paid approximately $4,725 per day to wear the Orange and Black, a nice raise in this day of austerity from the $378 he earns daily as a goaltender with the Phantoms.
In all, Lyon has spent 73 days with the big club this season. Based on the two-year entry level contract worth $874,125 per season (according to CapFriendly.com) that he signed before the 2016-17 season, he has earned a prorated $343, 073 over his four stints this season with the big club.
Now? He’s back in the Allentown apartment he rented in September, skating again with the Phantoms while he awaits a verdict on the seriousness of the injury Michal Neuvirth suffered in the second period of Wednesday’s 2-1 victory.
A statement issued by the Flyers on Friday said there would be a medical update Saturday.
“It could be a situation where something loosens up and it was just a spasm,’’ Lyon said of Neuvirth’s injury, which appeared to be related to the lower-body injury that sidelined him from Feb. 18 until he was activated Wednesday. “I’ve gotten pretty good at just kind of taking things as they come. For sure it’s a learned trait. I always go back to my college days, where you’re in one place the whole time and life is very set, very easy. Now with doing this it’s actually been great and helped my game a lot. Preparing for the unexpected…’’
One way or the other, that’s coming. The Flyers recently signed Felix Sandstrom to an entry-level deal, as did three-time WHL goaltender of the year Carter Hart, who Thursday stopped 23 of 24 shots just in the first period of a playoff game his Everett team ultimately won. Brian Elliott and Neuvirth both have a year left on their deals, and Anthony Stolarz has recently returned to action after having his knee surgically repaired last summer.
So, despite some outstanding performances that for a time flipped the pecking order between him and Petr Mrazek, Lyon’s future as a Flyer is murky at best. Clearer, though, is his status as a viable and willing NHL backup somewhere, a positive presence in the dressing room who has provided evidence he can be thrown into a game and excel, can be bounced between the minors and majors and be unaffected.
“Coming into the middle of a game and playing well in relief — it’s never been something that I’ve prided myself on or even had to pride myself on because I never really encountered it,’’ he said. “To have that as another feather in my hat going forward will help me, I think.
“The thing I would tell any young goalie is that it’s going to be hard. I always think that I prepare better for it. But it really is a difficult thing. Thursday, for example, we get back from Colorado and I have to check out of my hotel in Philly – technically by league rules I had to. So for the last 48 hours since I’ve been sent down, I have to think, OK, I am a Phantom. Do my best job. Until I am a Flyer.’’
So that’s where he’s at, pending the medical update on Neuvirth. The Flyers will play at 12:30 Sunday, and Lyon, who did not dress for the Phantoms’ game in Allentown on Friday night, will have his cellphone charged in case he is needed.
In the meantime, he will think and live as any AHL player would. He was talking from a Chipotle near his apartment Friday.
“My father is extremely frugal,’’ he said. ” Most frugal person in the world. It’s been ingrained in me from a young age that you don’t know when that next paycheck is coming. So you can fall back on that.’’