Wednesday, March 31, 1999

CYCLONES - DUCKS NOTEBOOK


Carey lives own Truman Show in minors

BY DAVE HELLER
Enquirer contributor

        Three years ago, Cyclones goalie Jim Carey was finishing his finest season as a pro. Carey, then with Washington, was a first-team NHL All-Star and won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender.

        In the years since, Carey has been traded, sent to the minors, released, signed by St. Louis then waived after appearing in just four games and sent to the minors again. After nearly succumbing to the frustration and giving up hockey, Carey wants to get back to that Vezina level.

        And, no offense to Cincin nati, but he knows he won't get to that performance level with the Cyclones.

        “You can't be in the AHL or IHL and expect to go up next week and be a Vezina winner, it's not going to happen,” Carey said. “It took me two years to get that. Two years of my best hockey. It's going to take that again. I need to get back up there (to the NHL) and it's going to take me a year or two, I think, to get back to that level. I'm not going to go up there and in 20 games be what I was when I left off.”

        Carey says you can only get so good and learn so much in the minors. To improve any more, you have to do it against NHL competition.

        “No matter how much you can succeed at the AHL and IHL level, it's apples and oranges,” he said. “Four goals up there (NHL) is better than giving up two down here. (The IHL) is competitive and I have to play my best every night, but as far as people wanting to see Jim Carey the Vezina winner, how can I do that here? I don't think I'm getting better (but) you can get more experience.”

        Carey's attitude is a far cry from last season, when he was sent down by Boston to Providence (AHL), eventually undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in January. Last summer, Carey and his wife, Stephanie, contemplated his future.

        “It was a rough go in Boston. It didn't sit well with myself (and) I didn't want to play, at that time, in Providence,” Carey said. “I didn't think I belonged there at the time. I had to decide whether I wanted to keep going.”

        Carey, of course, returned and put up great numbers at Providence, for which he credits P-Bruins coach Peter Laviolette. He is signed with St. Louis through next season, a one-way contract that reportedly pays him $800,000.

        “In the big picture, it's disappointing because I'm not back up there (NHL),” he said, “but it's night and day compared to last year. One thing I've learned is don't worry about things out of your control.”

        MIGHTY DUCKS: General Manager David McNab, who once played goalie for the University of Wisconsin, made a nice save last week.

        Houston (IHL) had loaned the Ducks center Anders Bjork earlier in the year, but wanted to trade him to Cleveland (IHL) for Lane Lambert.

        McNab interceded and convinced Cleveland to instead accept Tony Tuzzolino, one of a few bruisers on the Ducks roster.

        “Cleveland wasn't interested so much in Bjork as getting a player. It would have been tough on us if we lost a centerman,” McNab said. “It had to be somebody. It was better this way than losing Bjork.”

HOCKEY TONIGHT



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