Saturday, January 23, 2016

Michael Leighton Swatch Card

You might recall my deep respect for journeyman goaltender Michael Leighton from my post in 2012, but I was also moved last October when ESPN ran this story showcasing what a player of his ilk goes through with his family, particularly in cases where there are health concerns as there were with his son back then.

Drafted 165th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1999, he came back into the organization last year as the Rockford IceHogs' #1 goalie, and the 2008 Baz Bastien winner as the AHL's best goalie did have the statistics to contend for that honor once more, going 22-13-4 with a 2.26 GAA, .920 save percentage, 5 shutouts and 2 assists after an equally stunning season with the KHL's Donbass HC (20-15-6, 1.74 GAA and .933 save percentage with 6 shutouts in 42 games).

He's at it again this year, with an astonishing 20-4-4 record, 2.19 GAA, .928 save percentage, and 2 shutouts in 29 games. As I mentioned in 2012, he's too good for the AHL. We are, after all, talking about a guy who stopped 98 shots in a single, five-period game in 2008.

Here he is featured as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, from Panini's 2013-14 Titanium set (card #GG-LEI of the Game-Worn Gear sub-set), featuring a white game-worn jersey swatch:
The irony of it is that while he did spend a quarter of a season with the Jackets, he did not see a single minute of ice time, serving as Sergei Bobrovsky's backup, a task he had also accomplished in his time with the Philadelphia Fyers. Funnier still, this wasn't the first time he was on an NHL roster yet didn't play with the team holding his rights, as the Montréal Canadiens had once claimed him on waivers during an injury to Cristobal Huet, but Jaroslav Halak and David Aebischer were the ones who saw ice time instead.

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