Monday, December 13, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Wade Flaherty

For a guy who played 20 seasons in professional hockey, I don't know if there's an AGM who has played less in the show than this week's inductee. Of course, this goalie became a folk-hero in many of the places where he played and even took his craft across the pond to use his expertise to expand a sport in a nation just getting into the game. This week, we look at the career of Wade Flaherty.

Flaherty's career started in Terrace, BC with the Terrace Titans; he did get one game in with the WHL's Kelowna Wings-- but it was a no-decision. The 1985-86 season had Flaherty play mostly with the PCJHL's Williams Lake Mustangs, being called up by the Seattle Thunderbirds for nine games (1-3-0) and then with the Spokane Chiefs for five games (0-3-0). The 1986-87 season would have Flaherty with the BCJHL's Nanaimo Clippers for 15 games before he would be called up to the WHL again, this time with the Victoria Cougars. Flaherty would only play in three games, going 0-2-0 in those games.

Flaherty would settle in with Victoria for the 1987-88 season, playing 36 games finishing with a record of 20-16-0; then going 2-3 in the playoffs. That season was enough for Flaherty to get drafted in the ninth round by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1988 Draft. The 1988-89 season had Flaherty back with Victoria, taking on a bigger role with 42 games in net and a 21-19-0 record in his last year of junior eligibility.

The 1989-90 season would see Flaherty start his pro career with the ECHL's Greensboro Monarchs. Flaherty split time with Nick Vitucci during the regular season, playing 27 games with a 12-9-1 record; but took over the reigns during the playoffs, going 9-2 to help lead the Monarchs win the Riley Cup as ECHL champions. Flaherty was named Playoff MVP for his efforts.

Without getting signed by the Sabres, Flaherty signed with the San Jose Sharks in the summer of 1990 and would start off with the IHL's Kansas City Blades for the 1990-91 season. Flaherty would play 56 games, though it would only yield a 16-31-4 record for him. The 1991-92 season would be better in KC for Flaherty, as he would go 26-14-3 in 43 games with the Blades; as well as sharing the James Norris Trophy for fewest goals-against with Arturs Irbe. That year would also see Flaherty get a call-up for three games in the NHL with the Sharks, losing all three games. Flaherty continued to get better in Kansas City into the 1992-93 season, going 34-19-7 in 61 games, then going 6-6 in 12 playoff games. Another call-up that season by the Sharks and another loss. The 1993-94 season had Flaherty strictly in Kansas City, getting in 60 games for the season with a 32-19-9 record.

The shortened-season of 1994-95 afforded Flaherty to get a full-time gig in San Jose, where he would play 18 games with a 5-6-1 record, while also getting time in the playoffs with a 2-3 record. Flaherty would stay in San Jose in the 1995-96 season, playing in a system with many goalies fight for space, but managed to get 24 games behind Irbe and former AGM Chris Terreri; which saw Flaherty go 3-12-1 on an abysmal Sharks team. More congestion in net and a broken collarbone would see Flaherty get only seven games in San Jose with a 2-4-0 record; as well as getting sent to the AHL's Kentucky Thoroughblades, where he would get in 19 games and put up a record of 8-6-2 record and a 1-2 playoff record.

With the logjam in San Jose, Flaherty signed with the New York Islanders before the 1997-98 season, where he was sent to the IHL's Utah Grizzlies to start off the season. After going 16-5-3, Flaherty got the call-up to the Islanders, where he would post a 4-4-3 record in 16 games; three of those wins coming by shutout. Flaherty made the Isles opening day roster, but would be sent down to the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters shortly after that, where he would go 1-3-1 in five games before getting called up to the Islanders for 20 games which would have him go 5-11-2. The 1999-2000 campaign would be short-one for Flaherty, as he would only play four games (0-1-1) on Long Island before he would go out to shoulder surgery. He would return for the 2000-01 season, playing in 20 games with a 6-10-0, before he was dealt.

Flaherty was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a conditional draft pick, but would only play in two games-- losing both.

The summer of 2001 saw Flaherty sign with the Florida Panthers, but would spend most of his season with the AHL's Utah Grizzlies, playing in 45 games with a 22-13-5 record. Flaherty would get a call-up to Florida for four games with a 2-1-1 record. The 2002-03 season had Flaherty in the AHL again, this time with the San Antonio Rampage, going 11-13-5 in 30 games before his NHL affiliation was on the move again.

Flaherty was traded by the Panthers to Nashville for Pascal Trepanier, but Flaherty's time in Nashville would be short-lived, as he would play only one game, a loss. The 2003-04 season had Flaherty stay in the Predators organization, but in the minors with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. During the regular season, Flaherty would play only 36 games, compiling a 21-12-3 record; but much like his first pro season, Flaherty shined in the playoffs-- going 16-5, helping the Admirals win the Calder Cup. Flaherty won the Jack Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP.

In the summer of 2004, Flaherty was signed by the Vancouver Canucks, but it was mostly for the Manitoba Moose's benefit, as that is where wound up. For the 2004-05 season, Flaherty would get 36 games in with a 19-10-3 record in the regular season, then a 8-4 record in the post-season. Flaherty would see more time in the 2005-06 season, with 49 games played and a 26-17-4 record before a 7-5 post-season campaign. Injuries late in the season took its toll on Flaherty in the 2006-07 season, as he would only get 32 games in thanks to leg injuries; finishing with a 17-9-2 record. Flaherty would only play in three playoff games, going 1-2.

Time in Manitoba had run their course, which lead Flaherty to the Chicago Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs for the 2007-08 season. Flaherty would play 31 games, going 13-8-1 in a season that would have their share of injury problems.

After that season, Flaherty left North America in pursuit of other hockey ventures. The 2008-09 season landed him in China to play for the China Sharks. Not only would he play 39 games for the Sharks, but he would also be the goaltending coach for the Sharks and the Chinese National Team; trying to start to establish a competitive base there. Flaherty would hang-up his pads after that season.

Currently, Flaherty is the developmental goalie coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, where he's been since January of 2009.

Flaherty was everywhere and probably has the longest career for only playing 120 games in the NHL. He played 283 in the AHL, 244 in the IHL, and his career lasted long enough for him to play over in China. Another story of having logjams and not so great teams to deal with in trying to be successful in the pro game. He has two championships in the minor leagues and is now able to use his experiences in playing and being send down to mold the younger goalies in the Blackhawks organization.


Baseballislife1984 said...

I love your absurd goalie Monday's. I found your blog about a month ago and I spent a good portion of my work day going through it!

Unknown said...

I saw Flaherty play in SLC, and he was effin' awesome. I remember his run with the Sharks in the playoffs too... He had the unfortunate luck to play behind god-awful teams and defenses - with any luck at all he'd have landed on a solid team at any point, and become a solid starting goalie. Thanks for profiling players like this, who deserved better.

Pat said...

This is a great bio on wade.I seen him play a few games. When he was in the playoffs with San Jose against the Canucks,he was good. The end result he got them into the next round knocking Vancouver out of the playoff run.thanks-Pat