When you’ve experienced the kind of nomadic existence that Comrie has had over the past two seasons, prospect isn’t hard to find.
He’s been a member of four different NHL organizations, been traded once and claimed waivers four times, but all roads eventually lead to Winnipeg and his emotional journey puts him on the verge of what he truly believes. to be the best chapter to date.
The one where he shows he can finally be the alternate Winnipeg Jets goalie behind workaholic and 2020 Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck.
“No matter how good you are, you always have to get results,” Comrie said. “At the end of the day, that’s the position we’re in. We are here to win games. They are going to put the guy who wins the games and I understand that.
“It’s still a try for me. It’s still competing for a job. It’s not like they’re saying, ‘Oh, congratulations. The job is yours. I am not Connor Hellebuyck, I guarantee the place of n ° 1. I’m coming to earn a place, I’m coming to play the best I can in these games, and that’s what I’m going to do.
Chosen by the Jets in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft, this is the first time Comrie has entered the camp as a favorite for the No.2 position, in part thanks to the departure of Laurent Brossoit to the Vegas Golden Knights .
“Personally, I don’t see it that way. I’m looking to take the same approach as any other camp, ”said Comrie, whose main contender for the job is fourth-year pro and 2016 sixth-round pick Mikhail Berdin. “It’s just about building every day, getting better and better. You can’t look too far into the future or else you stop worrying about your day and it goes off the rails from there.
“I’m going to trust my offseason, I’m going to trust what I’m doing, I’m going to believe in myself and I’m going to have fun. “
Limited to just five games last season – one with the New Jersey Devils and four more with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League – Comrie has hired a nutritionist and sports psychologist in addition to stepping up his training.
Comrie admitted he was guilty of trying too hard and thinking too much earlier in his career, which impacted his ability to make the jump into the NHL.
That’s part of the reason he’s spent so much time working on the mental side of the game.
“Honestly, I watched a lot of golf this summer and listened to these guys. Each of them has a sports psychologist. You don’t realize they all use someone, they have someone to talk to, they all use it during their pre-hit routine, ”Comrie said. “I know golf is very different from hockey, but you can see it the same way, in that it’s a mental game like the goalie. It won’t be perfect all the time, but if you can give yourself the best opportunity and get into that state of mind, you can get closer to that area.
“It’s fun because the goalie is part of the game where there are rebounds that you can’t control. But you can control some things, your work ethic, your attitude, the things you do before the game, and that’s something I’m proud of – controlling my controllable elements, and I go there before every game and Make sure I’m in control of my pre-game routine, make sure everything is checked and I’m in the right frame of mind to give my best.
Comrie was able to find success at every other level he played, although it didn’t happen overnight.
“Everywhere I’ve been I’ve been successful, I did the right things, it just takes a little getting used to,” Comrie said. “It’s almost, ‘Calm down and maybe don’t try so hard, per se. You go over there and it’s, ‘Oh, I have to be perfect. I have to be there and be perfect, right now, right away. You squeeze too hard and squeeze it a little too hard, and sometimes it doesn’t always work to your advantage.
Due to his age (26) and limited action in the NHL, Comrie was set to become an unrestricted free agent in the last offseason, but the Jets signed him for a year in a row. single for the league’s $ 750,000 minimum in July. 27.
Despite the twists and turns he made, Comrie saw no need to test the market or seek a fresh start in another organization.
“You don’t really know. It happened on the last day so I wasn’t really sure, ”said Comrie, when asked how he viewed the offseason before signing the deal. “It’s a special place for me and I’m very proud to be here. This is the place where I want to be and win. For my part, this is the place where I was drafted. I really feel like home and want to represent it the best that I can and be the best I can be for a city that I really love.
“I love being in Winnipeg. The people are really top notch. You walk around the city and see the community and how strong it is, and just being a part of it is special to me.
In a meeting with reporters earlier in the week, Hellebuyck himself lent his support to Comrie, saying he was among those who defended his promotion.
“I’ve always been a great defender of (Comrie) because he’s a great goalie, works hard and is a good time player,” said Hellebuyck. “He’ll cheer up and when the guys want a little more he’ll give that little extra over there.” I know he doesn’t have a ton of games in the NHL, but I believe in him and think we’re going to have fun watching him.
The evolution of the alternate goalie position has been an interesting study and at a time when many organizations are practicing some form of load management as a way to keep the starter fresh for the stretch race and the playoffs, the The importance of getting quality starts from the No. 2 guy has never been higher.
While Hellebuyck will always get the heavy lifting, Comrie will be relied on to provide 20-22 starts – many of which will be under less than optimal conditions.
“A lot of times the back-up goalie gets all the worst starts,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “He gets back to back and you come in at three in the morning and he walks in there, you’ve got a bunch of injuries or you have to rest your number one.” They all have bad starts, so they have a lot of challenges.
“I would tell you that one of the most important things for a substitute goalie is the belief of the people in front of him. If they like this guy, they’ll block shots for him and they’ll rally around the fact that it’s his first year in the NHL and his first chance (to see regular duty) because they love him. Eric won (this love).
It is easy to identify why Comrie is held in such high regard.
He is a quality person, a tireless worker and he is not someone who leaves anything to chance.
“I have seen the exact same thing every day since the first day I met him. So you get to know Eric and after a few hours you think it’s not real. It can’t be so real. And then after two or three years, I’m just incredibly impressed with everything he does, ”said Maurice. “The way he goes about everything – because he hasn’t given her anything.” He will have maximized his talent and preparation and will handle difficult situations in the right way. If you shoot for a guy who’s done everything to be successful, you shoot for that guy.
“He’s going to give himself the best chance and we believe in it. He looks good. But he has to stop the pucks. It is essential. He’s stopping the pucks now and he’s sort of starting this trip tomorrow to have a chance.
Comrie will start in goal on Sunday as the Jets play the first of six exhibition games.
It won’t serve as a referendum on whether or not he’s ready to take on the job, but it’s an opportunity for Comrie to start building a foundation he can carry into the regular season.