NHL

Revisiting journeyman goaltender Ty Conklin’s unique career across the NHL

While former NHL goaltender Ty Conklin never won a Stanley Cup, the netminder’s interesting career is worth looking back on.

Most NHL fans likely remember Ty Conklin as nothing more than a backup goaltender who bounced from team to team.

That’s not to say the Anchorage, AK native wasn’t an effective second-string netminder, but let’s just say he won’t be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame anytime soon.

With that being said, Conklin’s career entailed some unique details.

For starters, Conklin was undrafted. The masked man earned a spot with the Edmonton Oilers organization and first appeared in an NHL game during the 2001-02 season. Things didn’t heat up for Conklin’s career until after the miserable 2004-05 NHL lockout.

While he only appeared in 18 games for the Oilers in 2005-06, he shockingly found himself between the pipes for Edmonton during that’s season’s Stanley Cup Final against the Carolina Hurricanes. Keep in mind that the backup played in 60 career games prior to getting the nod in Game 1. It also marked the first time since 1989-90 the Oilers advanced to the Final.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 11: Goaltender Ty Conklin #29 of the Edmonton Oilers makes a glove save against the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL game on October 11, 2005 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Oilers 3-1. (Photo by Noah Graham/Getty Images)

Conklin replaced Edmonton’s starter in Dwayne Roloson due to an injury that sidelined Roloson for the remainder of the Final. Oddly enough, Conklin also suffered an injury during Game 1 and was replaced by third-string goaltender Jussi Markkanen.

It was an odd series of events for one of the most forgettable Stanley Cup Finals in recent memory.

Conklin later inked himself in a unique part of hockey history.

The notorious backup again replaced an injured starter in Marc-Andre Fleury during the 2007-08 campaign when he strapped on the pads for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He earned the opportunity to start between the pipes for the Penguins during the NHL’s first-ever Bridgestone Winter Classic vs. the Buffalo Sabres at the then Ralph Wilson Stadium.

ORCHARD PARK, NY – JANUARY 01: Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres tries to get past goaltender Ty Conklin #35 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the NHL Winter Classic at the Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 1, 2008 in Orchard Park, New York. The Penguins won the game 2-1 in a shoot out. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Conklin collected the win, as most fans can recall the scenic and dramatic shootout victory Pittsburgh earned on New Year’s Day of 2008.

Interestingly enough the former Oiler was a member of another Cup contending squad when the Penguins advanced to the 2007-08 Final but lost to the Detroit Red Wings. Conklin didn’t appear in a contest vs. the Red Wings but ironically joined the Wings the following season.

CHICAGO – JANUARY 01: Ty Conklin #29 of the Detroit Red Wings walks off the ice after the Red Wings won 6-4 the Chicago Blackhawks during the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Again, the netminder earned some luck and was placed in a once in a lifetime opportunity. On New Year’s Day, 2009, Conklin started for the Red Wings in the league’s second Winter Classic at Wrigley Field when Hockeytown defeated the Chicago Blackhawks.

Conklin became the only player in NHL history to play in the league’s first two official Winter Classics.

Things really got odd when the Red Wings and Penguins faced-off in a Stanley Cup Final rematch that same season. Unfortunately, Conklin might have been cursed, because this time around the Steel City hoisted Lord Stanley — leaving Conklin on the wrong side of a Cup Final for the third occasion in less than five seasons.

The goaltender then joined the St. Louis Blues for two seasons before returning to Detroit in 2011-12 for his final NHL season.

Conklin only finished his career with 96 wins, but two of those victories were outdoors in some of the NHL’s fondest memories. Plus, he was a member of three teams that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final — there’ no doubt most goaltenders wished they’d have a chance to just play in one Final or Winter Classic.

Fans may not have realized it, but Conklin is in the NHL history books.

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