Carolina Hurricanes Sign Manny Legace, Look To Solve Goaltending Puzzle

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst INovember 9, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Goaltender Michael Leighton #49 of the Carolina Hurricanes protects the goal against the Atlanta Thrashers during a preseason game at Philips Arena on September 21, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's been a really tough season so far for the Carolina Hurricanes, and the year got even tougher last Saturday in Columbus.

Not only did the 'Canes blow a 1-0 second-intermission lead to earn their 12th straight loss—this time 3-2—but goaltender Cam Ward was sliced by Rick Nash's skate in the inside of his upper right leg early in the first period and was practically carried off the ice to the locker room.

After the game, it was announced that Ward had been taken to the hospital, and was to return to Raleigh in a few days. Today, 'Canes coach Paul Maurice said that Ward would return from Columbus tomorrow, but his injury was going to keep him out for three-four weeks.

This left a problem in the net for the Hurricanes, who had several options to think about before their game Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings. Besides from backup Michael Leighton and minor-league starter Justin Peters, free agent Manny Legace was also signed today as well to a one-year, $500,000 contract.

Manny Legace, 36, was 2-2-2 with a with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. Legace has a winning experience and a "legacy" of success, which included 337 total appearances throughout his career with Los Angeles, Detroit, and most recently St. Louis, where his last game against Carolina was a 1-0 shutout.

Legace was also a preseason tryout with the Atlanta Thrashers, and did play two periods in mid-October against the Hurricanes, which resulted in a 4-3 win for Carolina.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Also in the mix to get starts during the next several weeks is backup Michael Leighton. who filled in for 53 minutes against the Blue Jackets, surrendering three goals (all of which in a three-minute span early in the third period).

Leighton also started one game in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, where he gave up four goals in less than two periods before being pulled for Ward in a 6-1 loss. Overall, Leighton has been a solid backup for the team over the years but has very poor stats this season, with a 5.11 GAA and a miserable .813 save percentage.

Yet another consideration for Maurice is Justin Peters, the 'Canes top AHL goalie with the Albany River Rats, who are 7-6-1 so far this season. Peters has played in 10 of the club's 14 games this season, recording a 5-4-1 record, .925 save percentage, 2.19 goals-against average, and plenty of solid starts.

So the question remains...who will it be who will start for Carolina against the Kings on Wednesday? Who will get the majority of the starts during the three weeks of Cam Ward's absence?

"It will, like always, be a fight," says Paul Maurice. Hopefully, a fight that will result in the right guy that can turn the Hurricanes season around.