Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/09/09 at 11:45 PM ET
On Monday morning, the Hurricanes announced what everyone knew was coming. They have signed 36-year old veteran goaltender Manny Legace to a one-year two-way contract. He will be paid the league minimum of $500k at the NHL level and $105k at the AHL level. The one-time Stanley Cup winner was last seen in Atlanta’s system on a tryout contract with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. This, of course, came on the heels of Cam Ward suffering a deep laceration on his left thigh on Saturday. Ward has been ruled out for at least four weeks. The signing was pretty much an emergency situation, and given the price tag, I don’t think they could have done any better.
While some people are making light of the fact that Legace was drafted by (but never played for) the Whale, there’s a far more alarming thing about Legace that should concern all of us. There’s a really bizarre trend with his health. Specifically, he’s never been able to stay healthy in December
According to the timelines we’ve been given, we shouldn’t expect Cam Ward back in the lineup until the new year. While he may be cleared to play in mid-December, he probably won’t be in game shape. In 2007, the Canes rushed Ward back into service after a similar injury. He wasn’t really ready, and hopefully he and the Canes learned from the mistake. The likely scenario is that Leighton and Legace will have to hold the fort down until mid-January.
Based on Legace’s injury history, this might be a difficult thing. I was studying his career, and saw an incredible trend of early December injuries. It’s pretty damn eerie, actually:
- November 27, 2000 Manny suffered a knee injury, which forced him to miss two games for the Red Wings.
- December 6, 2002. Another knee injury. This time he missed four games, returning to action on the 17th.
- December 9, 2003. Yet another knee injury. He missed two games, returning on the 13th.
- November 25, 2005. You can probably guess. A sprained knee kept him out for 13 games. After a one-game conditioning stint, he returned to the Wings lineup on December 31.
- December 6, 2006. By now, Legace was with the Blues. This time it wasn’t a knee injury, but a head injury. He had a mild concussion that knocked him out for four games until December 16.
- December 7, 2007. Another knee injury. Specifically, the right knee. He missed three games, returning to the Blues lineup on the 13th.
- December 11, 2008. A mild concussion knocked Manny out of four games. He returned on December 20, was waived by the Blues on February 6 and was assigned to Peoria (AHL) on February 7.
Legace has had a couple of other injuries in his career. Ones that didn’t occur in December. But it’s more than a little eerie that this happens like clockwork EVERY SINGLE SEASON.
Right now, it doesn’t seem like Michael Leighton is capable of carrying any kind of load. Maybe two starts in a row, but that’s about it. Legace will be playing, and the Hurricanes are going to absolutely need him. That’s why it’s really going to suck when he gets hurt. And I’ll go ahead and call it now.
December 7, 2009 at Pittsburgh, Legace is going to sprain his right knee. Pull his groin. Something like this, and he’ll have to sit out four games. He’ll return to action December 16 at home against Dallas.
This is just Manny being Manny.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.