While it won’t matter in terms of the great playoff picture, when the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Florida Panthers on Thursday night from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, one player on the ice will remember this game for the rest of his life.
Goaltender Drew MacIntyre, who has played in 351 AHL games, 56 ECHL games and two in the KHL, will make his first career start in the NHL between the pipes for the Maple Leafs. He has played in five NHL contests before, all coming in as relief for a pulled goaltender.
The goaltender who gives MacIntyre inspiration is Tim Thomas, who didn’t make his first career NHL start until the age of 28 and didn’t get a real chance until after a sojourn to Europe showed what kind of performer he could become.
Family members and friends always bring up Thomas, now a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup-winner, to give MacIntyre hope. And he buys into that belief.
“He did it. I don’t see why I couldn’t do it,” MacIntyre said. “I’m not saying I’m going to be Tim Thomas if I get a chance, but I like to think I can compete well up here.”
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