By Ken Wiebe
The Winnipeg Sun
Alex Auld, who began his professional career in the ECHL, has gone back in time.
It had been three years since Auld last set foot in the MTS Centre, as a member of the Manitoba Moose.
The following season, Auld took advantage of an injury to Dan Cloutier to appear in a career-high 67 games for the Vancouver Canucks and posted a solid record of 33-26-6 with a 2.94 goals against average.
Then came the blockbuster deal that brought Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek to the Canucks and sent Auld, Bryan Allen and Todd Bertuzzi to the Florida Panthers.
What looked like a prime opportunity turned into disappointment as Auld played only 27 games and sat out the final 22 contests with a knee injury.
When the Panthers decided not to tender a qualifying offer to Auld this summer, the Thunder Bay product became an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Auld eventually signed a two-way deal with the Phoenix Coyotes and is battling for crease time with Mikael Tellqvist, David Aebischer, who played in the ECHL as a rookie, and youngsters David LeNeveu and Josh Tordjman, who played for the Phoenix RoadRunners in 2006-07.
“To be honest, it was a tough summer for goalies and there weren’t a lot of positions (open),” said Auld, who made 29 saves as the Coyotes lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night before a crowd of 13,417 at the MTS Centre during an NHL pre-season game. “This is the one spot where there was potentially a starting job open. It’s an up-and-coming team and I’m still relatively young (26), so I thought if I could get in here, it would be good to be part of a good building experience. I’m looking forward to compete for a spot.”