With Cam Ward having started the past 16 games for the Hurricanes and likely to start the next three as well, Michael Leighton is getting a taste of what many other backup goalies have experienced in a Carolina uniform: The No. 2 Blues.
For whatever reason, whether it has been Arturs Irbe or Ward or Kevin Weekes in net or Paul Maurice or Peter Laviolette behind the bench, the two-goalie system hasn’t been a huge success with the Hurricanes.
It worked in 2001-02 (Irbe and Tom Barrasso during the regular season, Irbe and Weekes in the playoffs), 2002-03 (Irbe and Weekes, although the Hurricanes finished dead last) and 2005-06 (Ward and Martin Gerber).
But more often, it doesn’t. Here are five other seldom-used or ill-fated backups — Tuesday’s Top Five:
5. Eric Fichaud, 1998-99 — Irbe played in 75 games, a mark he would top a year later. Fichaud started the season on the bench, making six starts and three relief appearances, before the Montreal Canadiens claimed him on waivers. Mark Fitzpatrick made only one start over the next two months.
4. John Grahame, 2007-08 — After a rocky first season with Carolina, things only got worse for Grahame, who was briefly sent down in January so the Canes could get a look at Leighton. Ward started the final 20 games of the season as the Canes tried, and failed, to make the playoffs.
3. Kirk McLean, 1997-98 — Acquired in a January trade, McLean was supposed to supplant Trevor Kidd as the starter, but couldn’t do it and was traded to the Florida Panthers less than two months after he arrived. The Canes used five different goalies that season.
2. Jamie Storr, 2003-04 — Signed less than a week before Opening Night to back up Weekes, Storr played in only 14 games before he was shipped to the minors for good in February — a less-palatable option than the shunned Irbe, who returned from his own minor-league exile.
1. Tyler Moss, 2000-01 — Forever the answer to a trivia question: Who was the backup goalie when Irbe started 40 games in a row? Moss came aboard for the 2000-01 season, played in only 12 games (Irbe played in 77) and would play in only one more NHL game before leaving for Russia.