The anxiety is gone, replaced by a sense of relief.
For veteran goaltender John
Grahame, taking a step back is also his first step in moving forward.
Grahame will be in the net for the Albany River Rats’ non-divisional game tonight in Manchester, N.H. It will be his second start since clearing NHL waivers and being sent down by the Carolina Hurricanes five days ago.
The 32-year-old Grahame played in 13 of Carolina’s first 42 games, going 4-6-1 with a 3.83 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage. His struggles, and the outstanding play of Rats goalie Michael Leighton, gave the ’Canes reason to make a switch.
“I think when you’ve been around a little bit, you try to take the attitude, or I do, at least, to not be surprised by anything,
although I was a little bit there the other day,” Grahame said following pratice Tuesday at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Houston Field House. “The effect has worn off quickly.
“I wouldn’t say we know for certain what’s going to happen, but I’ll be here for however long, and you’ve got to take advantage of these situations, play hard and win games. That’s the best way to go about it.”
Playing out a two-year,
$2.8 million contract signed in 2006,
Grahame’s future with the organization had been clouded as he battled with his consistency.
He has played 220 NHL games with Carolina, Boston and Tampa Bay, winning a Stanley Cup with the 2004 Lightning. In his first AHL stint in more than 61⁄2 years, Grahame also won a Calder Cup with Providence in 1999, playing for current ’Canes coach Peter Laviolette.
“When you’ve had some success and been in those different situations, it’s easier to draw from that, and get to the task at hand,” Grahame said. “I’ve been sitting on the bench in Carolina for a year and a half, and it wasn’t pleasant. As an athlete and a competitor, it’s going to be enjoyable to come down and play a lot of games, and get some wins.”
That is exactly what head coach-GM Tom Rowe is counting on, particularly with his club missing several key players either injured or on recall to Carolina.
“I plan on playing him as much as possible,” Rowe said. “He’s coming into a tough situation, because we’re playing guys in minutes who aren’t used to those minutes. He’ll find his game, even though it may not be perfect the way he wants it.
“He’s looking forward to playing. I told him he’s our No. 1 guy, and he’s going to be playing a lot. That’s why he’s here, to get his game back into shape. He’s a breath of fresh air. It’s good for our young kids to be around him.”
Left wing Ryan Bayda, out since Dec. 14 with a concussion, suffered a setback in practice on Monday, and will miss at least another
couple of weeks. …
Rookie center Bobby Hughes is also out indefinitely with an injury. Hughes had played in 15 of the last 16 games since missing 11 of 17 with a concussion. …