PHILADELPHIA - MAY 16: Goalie Michael Leighton of the Philadelphia Flyers talks to the media after defeating the Montreal Canadiens to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals by a score of 6-0 during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 16, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY -- Following today's 4-2 Phantoms loss to the Albany Devils at Boardwalk Hall, Michael Leighton said he felt good and ready to return to the Flyers. (Of course he did, who wants to stay with a team that has three wins and 22 losses?)
"I feel like I did what I had to do here and I feel good," Leighton said. Paul Holmgren didn't seem so sure about that.
"We've got to get to Philadelphia now and get him checked out by our doctors," Holmgren said. "When the time is right, we'll do what we have to do to get Michael back on our team. Right now is not the time to deal with that. We have some other things we have to deal with -- Michael's injury and making sure he's completely healthy."
If Leighton is indeed ready to go as he says, the CBA says he must come off LTIR and return to the active roster by the end of his six-day conditioning stint. Today is that sixth day. In layman's terms, if he's not a liar, he's a Flyer again tomorrow. Again, Holmgren disagreed.
"I don't have to do anything [Monday]," Holmgren said. "He's on the injured reserve list and until we take him off, we don't really have to do anything."
What's that mean, then? If I'm reading between the lines, I'd say that Holmgren is shooting for a two-game extension on Leighton's conditioning loan. Since he's on LTIR, the NHL must approve such an extension, and the Flyers have to prove that he's not ready to return to the active NHL roster. Holmgren seemed confident that he didn't have to make a move just yet.
If that extension is approved by the NHL, Leighton would be eligible to play in the next two Phantoms games only. It's a one-time extension, so Leighton's going to be a Flyer by next Sunday at the absolute latest.
Simply put, Holmgren appears to be stalling here. Leighton didn't look sharp in goal today. His notoriously bad rebound control hurt him a few times, including on an absolutely brutal goal in the third period that put Albany up two and essentially sealed a Devils win. It's understandable why Holmgren wouldn't want to mess with a goalie tandem that's working in Philadelphia while Leighton is still struggling in regaining his form with the Phantoms.
Holmgren doesn't think he has to make a move tomorrow, but that all seems contingent on whether or not the NHL believes Leighton is healthy. We'll see what happens in the next 36 hours or so, won't we?
UPDATE 10:51 PM - Chuck Gormley got a little more out of Holmgren tonight.
“We’ll get him checked out (physically),” he said. “I’m not sure if he’s ready for NHL action. Ideally, we’ll try to get him some more games somewhere else.”
Asked what options the Flyers have available to them other than the Phantoms, Holmgren said, “We’ll do what we need to do and you’ll find out then.”
There are only two types of conditioning loans that can be utilized by NHL teams, as outlined in Section 13.8 and 13.9 of the CBA. 13.8 applies to players not on LTIR, while 13.9 applies to players on LTIR. In Leighton's case, then, 13.8 is moot, and we've already been over the outlines governing 13.9.
If Homer has something up his sleeve to get Leighton some more games beyond what we've already discussed re: two-game extension of his current conditioning loan, I'm not sure what it could possibly be.