With backup goaltender Anton Khudobin sidelined for at least another week to two weeks with a lower body injury, Carolina called up Justin Peters from their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, in order to back up starting goalie Cam Ward. Peters was not expected to see many starts at all. Ward seemed to be on the rebound from his shaky start, and was regaining form. Until, that is, he went down with a lower body injury early in the first against the Minnesota Wild, bringing in Peters.
A team cannot survive on one goaltender, and when news broke that Ward would be out for three to four weeks, Carolina immediately recalled Mike Murphy from Charlotte. This is a problem, since it left the Checkers with no goaltender.
Having two hurt goaltenders is hard to deal with. When one of those goaltenders is Ward, who seems to be having issues staying off of injured reserve of late, some hard decisions come next.
Whether or not to hang on to Ward is a question whose answer varies from each and every person asked. Some will say trade him, some will say release him outright, others are saying that those people are stupid and to hang on to Ward. It’s become the most contested debate in North Carolina.
Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford made an absolutely out-of-left field move this week, succeeding in nothing other than making everyone sit up and say “Wait, what?” Rutherford assisted in the signing of former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro to a professional tryout contract (PTO) with the Checkers.
DiPietro was drafted by the Islanders in 2000 and was the face of the franchise for a good amount of time, yet has not been relevant for close to five seasons, having played his last for the Islander’s AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Even in Bridgeport, DiPietro appeared in only 18 games.
Where Rutherford is going with this remains to be seen. A known proponent of signing players with more name recognition than talent, it is entirely conceivable that there are plans to bring DiPietro to the Hurricanes at some point. Rutherford commented to the News And Observer, rather nebulously, saying , At this point it’s a PTO. We’ll see what kind of shape he’s in, how he plays.”
This is as open-ended a statement as they come. Rutherford is not the GM of the Checkers, Jeff Daniels is. Yet Rutherford had his hands in this signing and is making references containing “We” and “Us.” There’s solidarity with your farm system, and then there’s, “Hey, hey, what is going on here?”
If Rutherford has any ideas whatsoever to contain DiPietro playing for the Hurricanes in any way, shape, or form, he needs to abandon them.
While nobody has said anything either way, it seems to be the only thing remotely close to a solution that the Carolina front office has come up with in this nightmare of a week.
As the old joke goes, DiPietro plays great for a man of 44 years old. It’s just too bad he’s 32.
DiPietro spends an inordinate amount of time injured, prompting New York to buy his inflated contract out just to unload the guy. This wasn’t some Original Six team with money to burn. This was the Islanders, who, at the time, often worried about keeping the lights on in Nassau Coliseum; that’s how badly New York wanted DiPietro off their hands.
Rutherford has problems that he needs to figure out. While what was looking to be a magnificent road trip turned into something out of Faust, Rutherford went out and signed a has-been-never-was goaltender to the farm team on a PTO. Did he trade for someone’s No. 2 with potential? No, he went once more for a name brand, or what he thought was a name brand.
It’s questionable decisions like this that make it a total mystery why Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos keeps this guy on the payroll. Minority ownership stake or not, Rutherford’s name has no place on a business card containing the words “General” or “Manager,” ever. Anywhere. For any reason. At any level. Ever.