McVicar (Photo: Mike Ashmore)
No matter where his career takes him, Elmira Jackals goaltender Rob McVicar will always be able to say that he played in the National Hockey League.
He played in two minutes and 44 seconds of the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on December 1, 2005, replacing an ineffective Alex Auld late in the game.
But what most people probably don’t know, is that it was a debut that should have come a few games sooner.
“We were in Colorado, and it was the same thing where we were getting kind of walloped,” McVicar recalled.
“(Then Canucks head coach) Marc Crawford told me to go in. I turned around, and my gloves and helmet weren’t on the bench where I left them. The trainers had brought them back into the dressing room. So as I was waiting for my gloves, they’d already started to get to center ice and faceoff.”
For a player who had still yet to play in the NHL, and only had 17 games of AHL experience at the time, it was a tough pill to swallow.
“That was pretty devastating. I was very, very disappointed when that happened. It was just one of those weird things that happened, I don’t know why the trainers brought them back there. But it happened, and luckily I got the chance to go in a few games later.”
But while the 26-year-old native of Brandon, Manitoba can say he played in the NHL, he can’t say he got to make a save.
“I didn’t even get a shot,” said McVicar, who backed up for about a dozen games for Vancouver.
“I was kind of mad about that, actually. I think a guy came down the left wing and shot about ten feet wide. I just wanted at least one shot. But it was a good experience, I had a lot of fun up there and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
While there are many who knows that McVicar was fortunate enough to reach the NHL, people may be surprised to learn that since that game in Edmonton nearly three years ago, he hasn’t played in a single game not only in the NHL, but the AHL as well.
He was sent down to the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings shortly after the game, and has since played with the Utah Grizzlies in the ECHL and spent last season with the Arizona Sundogs of the CHL, where was named the playoff MVP.
This year, he’s returned to the ECHL to play for Trenton’s division rival, the Elmira Jackals. He admits that his taste of playing at the top levels of game makes having to return here a little frustrating.
“It is (frustrating), I’m not going to lie,” he said.
“I think I could play at a higher level, but I’m not mad. Hockey’s done me well, and I don’t really owe hockey anything. It’s been great to me, I love it. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. You always want to play at the next level, but you don’t want to be that guy that’s going to mope about it and complain about it. You’ve just got to take what you’re given and work as hard as you can and see what happens.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com