Ty Curtis Conklin
Born March 30, 1976 (age 35) in Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings
This guy was a beast in net against my Blackhawks last night, so let’s get to know him. Ty was born in Arizona but grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, which is an interesting contrast indeed and makes him the first and (so far) only Alaskan goaltender in the NHL. He attended the famous Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Minnesota before moving on to the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers and the University of New Hampshire – all while never having been drafted. When he finally signed to the NHL as a free agent in 2001, it was with the Edmonton Oilers, and he spent his first two years with their AHL team, the Hamilton Bulldogs. He helped them come close to winning the Calder Cup and set a mind-blowing AHL record of 83 saves in a game (to be fair, the game – Game 2 of the 2003 Calder Cup final, to be exact – went into quadruple-overtime). The 2003-04 season was spent with the Oilers, first as backup, then starter when Tommy Salo was injured. During the Year That Never Was, he played in Germany’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga for Wolfburg.
After a disappointing return season with the Oilers and a terrible flub that cost the Oilers Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, he left Edmonton as a UFA for Columbus and played with their AHL team for a year, only to be traded to Buffalo mid-season. After finishing the season with the Sabres, he signed a two-way contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins and went to the Baby Pens. He was called to the Pens in December 2007 to replace an injured Marc-Andre Fleury but had a very disappointing first night, earning a 9.00 GAA in their really ugly 8-2 loss to the Flyers. But he redeemed himself the next month, and Fleury’s game improved when he returned, due to Ty’s mentoring. But salary caps wouldn’t allow the Pens to keep him, and Ty was Free Range once again.
He landed in Detroit for a for the 2008-09 season, primarily as a backup for Chris Osgood, but he ended up splitting net duty with him and starting in 40 games. He did fairly well and even made it to the Stanley Cup Finals again, but salary caps again were his nemesis. He went to St. Louis for the next two seasons, gaining a .881 save percentage and a 3.22 GAA in 25 games before being placed on waivers in February 2011. Now he’s back in Detroit as Jimmy Howard’s backup and mentor, and if the preseason is any indication, the guy they call the “Conkblock” may have gotten his groove back.