A staple of the Komets hockey team is that they always seem to have an elite goaltender, from the days of Chuck Adamson and Robbie Irons to the more recent standouts like Tom Lawson and Nick Boucher.This season should be no different.
On Tuesday, the Komets signed John Muse, who backstopped Boston College to NCAA championships in 2008 and 2010, then won the ECHL title in 2012 with Florida, when he was selected as the Playoff MVP.
Although Muse is coming off a mediocre season, the Komets' biggest concern may not be whether Muse can get the job done, but if he gets called up to the American Hockey League.
"The biggest thing is he'll get the keys to the car and a chance to play a lot," said Gary Graham, who has also signed 13 forwards and seven defensemen for his first season as the Komets' head coach. "We'll see where it takes us. The hand that you're dealt is always changing in the ECHL and we know that."
Muse, a 25-year-old native of East Falmouth, Mass., is 5-foot-11, 185 pounds. In college, he was 89-39-16 with a 2.40 goals-against average and 12 shutouts, while playing in 144 of the Eagles' 162 games over four seasons.
In 2011-12, he was 16-6-3 with a 2.42 GAA and a .920 save percentage for Florida, and with Charlotte of the AHL he was 10-3-2 with a 1.81 GAA and a .941 save percentage.
Last season, he was 9-8-4 with a 3.66 GAA and a .884 save percentage for Florida, and with Charlotte he was 7-7-1 with a 3.22 GAA and a .891 save percentage.
"He's a lot like us as an organization," said Graham, whose Komets missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002. "The NHL lockout affected the goaltenders a lot. After the year he had (in 2011-12, the Carolina Hurricanes) told him he would be in Charlotte and that's where he trained and thought he would be. The lockout jammed everybody down and he didn't have the year he expected. He has a lot to prove to himself. We are the same way as an organization."
General manager David Franke echoed those sentiments.
"We have acquired a top goaltender whose resume is loaded with collegiate and pro championships," Franke said. "John has a lot to prove after a so-so 2012-13. The Komet franchise has a lot to prove since not making the playoffs last year.I think this is a great match for both of us."
The Komets are still open-minded to an NHL affiliation – they parted ways with the Anaheim Ducks this summer – but Graham believes his roster will be fine even if it doesn't happen. His top priority now is to secure a veteran, top-pair defenseman.
"I'm really happy. It will be a very competitive training camp," Graham said. "We've done a lot of research in every guy we've signed. We know where they will fit in role wise."
ECHL teams can carry four veteran players of at least 260 games played – goalies are exempt – and so far they have only Brandon Marino and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock.