VOORHEES – When they ask Mike McKenna, a goalie the Flyers picked up on waivers Friday, if he’s ever seen such a carousel of netminders as the Flyers have running right now, he just laughs.
“Not in the NHL,’’ he said during a media conference call. “But years ago, when I was in the ECHL, we picked up a couple guys from a rest stop once.’’
Well, welcome to the Flyers, where things are just about as crazy right now.
A lower-body injury (day-to-day, according to GM Chuck Fletcher) to Michal Neuvirth (what’s new?) sort of necessitated the pick up of McKenna, who was officially property of Vancouver, even though he never played for the Canucks.
In fact, the 35-year-old McKenna was actually a member of the Ottawa Senators just a few days ago and, after getting moved to Vancouver, was sitting in a hotel room in Toronto when the Flyers made their claim.
Meanwhile, coach Scott Gordon announced that rookie Carter Hart will start Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
But there are back-to-back games coming up and if McKenna does see action, it will mark the seventh goaltender to suit up for the Flyers this season, which will tie an NHL record.
The list so far includes Brian Elliott, Neuvirth, Cal Pickard, Alex Lyon, Anthony Stolarz and Hart.
McKenna, a St. Louis native, has bounced around the NHL since he was drafted by Nashville in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
He has played for Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Columbus, Arizona, Dallas and Ottawa. In 34 games (26 starts), he has a record of 7-16-3 with a 3.58 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.
He’s played for 11 AHL, one ECHL and now eight (if he sees action in Philadelphia) NHL franchises.
McKenna, a 6-foot-2, 183-pound graduate of St. Lawrence University, takes all the moving around in stride. It’s all part of the business if you’re a bubble guy.
Like Pickard, he’s learned to live out of a suitcase or, in his most recent experience, a garbage bag.
“I walked down the hallway with a trash bag from Ottawa to Vancouver’s locker room in Ottawa,’’ he explained. “And then we flew to Montreal and then to Toronto, which is where I am now.
“I’ve been a lot of places. I’d like to think that I can bring some (talent).’’
McKenna played a lot against Gordon when the two were opposing each other in the American Hockey League. Gordon is an ex-goaltender and said McKenna beat some of his AHL squads.
“When you have an old goaltender coaching you, you know they’ve been through the trenches,’’ McKenna said. “They know what it’s like to be in your shoes. It’s inherently valuable to have someone who can have your back in that way and just know what’s like.
“I’m very familiar with him and the teams that he’s had. For whatever reason, I seem to have had success against him in the past.’’
Some guys just don’t stick with teams but that shouldn’t take away from their reputation as a quality player. Lots of teams need quick fixes and McKenna can be that handy repairman or fill-in.
“I would really like to fight that label (of bounce-around player),’’ he said. “I’ve always been able to perform. So it’s just been a matter of a lot of times not being somebody’s prospect.
“And that’s what I’ve battled my whole career. It’s not been a blooming issue, I didn’t start off with an entry-level contract and the cards were stacked against me from the beginning.
“For whatever reason, I’ve managed to persevere and keep my career going.’’
Gordon said McKenna is expected to arrive in Philadelphia on Friday night.
“I’ve seen him beat my teams in Providence and Lehigh a few times,’’ Gordon said with a grin. “He’s an experienced guy, he’s had a lot of success in the American League.
“I don’t know how many times he’s been to the finals – once with Syracuse and last year with Texas (which lost to the Toronto Marlies). He’s a competitor. Right now we’re a little bit thin in net, I think we’re fortunate to get him.’’
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