MONTREAL – The nearest place Louis Domingue could find Monday to watch trade-deadline coverage was a Binghampton, N.Y., bar, which is good because with the season he has had the goalie probably needed a drink
Once a promising future starter in the National Hockey League, Domingue cleared waivers twice and was traded twice this season before landing gratefully with the Vancouver Canucks, who suddenly needed another goalkeeper when Jacob Markstrom reported to work Monday with an injured knee.
Markstrom is out indefinitely, which left backup Thatcher Demko to start Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens and for the foreseeable future.
Domingue, 27, gets another NHL chance as Demko’s backup with the Canucks facing their most critical month of games in nearly five years.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs,” Domingue said after the Canucks’ optional morning skate Tuesday. “My dad always says I’m like a cat because I have so many lives. I find ways, and I think I’ll do that again here.
“Going into yesterday, I was a little bit worried about what my future was going to hold. Ultimately, if you focus on that you’re not going to have success. I’m ready for the challenge. There’s nothing new to me.”
Yes, Domingue has experienced a lot in the last year.
Traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Tampa Lightning in 2017, Domingue was Andrei Vasilevskiy’s backup last season on a record-breaking team that crashed out of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But he lost his NHL spot in Tampa last fall and was sent to the American Hockey League before a November trade with the New Jersey Devils. Domingue earned a promotion back to the NHL, but was twice demoted back to the minors.
With an .882 save percentage in 16 games this season with the Devils and winless in his last six starts for New Jersey, Domingue cleared waivers again on Friday and was sent to minor-league Binghampton and told to await a trade.
It came Monday when the Canucks traded AHL goalie Zane McIntyre to the Devils, who will save a few dollars without Domingue’s one-way NHL salary of $1.15 million. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Ironically, Domingue will have a chance to save his career — under Canucks goaltending coach Ian Clark — with the organization the netminder had expected to begin it with.
“At the (2010) draft, it was actually the team that showed the most interest,” Domingue said of the Canucks. “I met with them multiple times and I had great conversations. I thought they were going to draft me, to be honest. It comes full circle. It’s kind of great.”
Under former general manager Mike Gillis, the Canucks did not have a pick until the fourth round of the 2010 draft and eventually chose goalie Jonathan Iilahti in the sixth. Domingue went in the fifth round to the Arizona Coyotes, for whom he played 39 games in 2015-16, and 31 the following season.
Domingue looked like a Canuck on Tuesday, wearing his old blue Lightning gear to match Vancouver colours after asking his dad to bring pads to the rink from the goalie’s house in Montreal. He grew up just east of the city in Saint-Hyacinthe.
“He’s a really good goalie,” Canucks winger J.T. Miller, who played in Tampa last season, said of Domingue. “Last year, every time we needed him to play, we typically got a win out of him. He stepped up big for us. I’m excited to have him. I don’t know what’s going on with Marky myself, but he’s definitely a good guy to have come in.”
Markstrom is having his injured knee re-assessed in Vancouver. There are reports he will be out 3-4 weeks. After missing the playoffs the last four seasons, the Canucks are third in the Pacific Division, three points clear of the playoff cut line with 21 games remaining.
“It’s tough because he’s been so good for us all year,” veteran defenceman Chris Tanev said of Markstrom. “Day in and day out, he’s probably been our best player, so obviously it’s tough. I’m not sure how long he’s going to be out for, but … Thatcher has been good for us all year and he’s going to get the chance to play a lot of games. I think he’s ready for the challenge.”
The Canucks do not make their starting goalie available to the media the morning of game days.
Demko, 24, is 10-6-2 for the Canucks with a .905 save percentage.
“We’ll deal with it as we go, like we have all year,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “(Domingue) has experience. He’s been in the league a while. He’s at that age where he can handle different situations. He’s played different types of games, so he’s a good addition.”
But Markstrom has been one of the best goalies in the NHL this season.
His injury could become a tipping point for the Canucks.
“I’m not worried about that at all,” Green said. “In the media and the public eye, when you’re sitting on the outside, there’s lots of time to talk, lots of time to analyze it. The guys in the room, they just play. As much as they love Marky, and love how he’s played and know how valuable he is to the group, they still just worry about playing their best hockey. And they’ve also got a lot of faith in Demmer as well.”
The Canucks visit the Ottawa Senators on Thursday before back-to-back games this weekend in Toronto and Columbus, which could give Domingue his first start for Vancouver.