With Murphy ready to play for the first time in over a month, the Checkers released Madore, who filled in for the team’s last game on Sunday, from his professional tryout contract. Madore, the team’s playoff starter last season who began the current campaign in the ECHL, made 25 saves in the 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals, his only AHL game this season.
The move gives the team the standard allotment of two goalies with Murphy and John Muse, the latter of whom has started 11 of a possible 17 games since becoming the first of four goalies to sign a PTO with the Checkers this season. Though Madore played well, coach Jeff Daniels said that he saw no need to carry more than that.
“There’s no point in keeping three,” he said. “We’ve only got two nets and everyone needs to play.”
Whenever Murphy plays next – the Checkers are not scheduled to play back-to-back games until beginning a three-in-three set on Dec. 19 – it will his first game at any level since his last appearance with the Checkers on Oct. 20. Following that game, a 7-2 loss to Iowa in which he allowed four goals on 16 shots, he backed up 10 NHL games but did not play. Upon his return to Charlotte on Nov. 18, an injury caused him to miss the team’s last five games.
With that in mind, rust could be a concern, though Murphy has been able to practice with the team for the last two weeks.
“He’s looked good in practice this week and even last week, and at some point you’ve got to get him into games,” said Daniels. “He understands the situation, he wants to get in the net and we’ll give him that opportunity.”
“It’s been frustrating, but I feel better,” said Murphy. “Hopefully I can get the ball rolling again. It was nice to be in the NHL, but this wasn’t the start I was hoping for with not playing for so long.”
Along with Michal Jordan, who has a very good chance to return to the lineup against Rockford on Thursday, Murphy said that he had undergone dry needle therapy, a practice similar but not identical to acupuncture, as part of his recovery process.
“It really hurts, but it really helps,” he said.
Now that he’s feeling comfortable again, he hopes to be able to do his part to help get the Checkers, winners of two of their last 12 games, back on track.
“Everyone in that dressing room believes,” he said. “We know what we can do, we have the same coaches that got us to where we were before and we trust the system. There are still 45 games left, so it’s early.”
It’s possible that the goaltending situation for the Checkers, who have used a league-leading seven goalies this season, could undergo another shakeup once Anton Khudobin gets healthy in Carolina. Khudobin, who has been out since Oct. 13, is skating with the team on its current road trip.
Once Khudobin is ready to play, the Hurricanes, also unlikely to keep three goaltenders, could make a trade involving either him or Justin Peters, who began this season in Charlotte. They could also expose Peters to waivers, a riskier proposition than in the past based on his play with Carolina this season, with the hope of getting him to Charlotte.
Another option that could delay a tougher decision would be sending Khudobin to Charlotte on a conditioning stint.