OTTAWA - Fred Brathwaite just wants one final shot.
In the twilight of his career, the 39-year-old goalie is hoping to get a free-agent tryout with an NHL team this fall. He’s held off on returning to Europe just in case the right opportunity comes along.
“I just want to live the dream one more time,” Brathwaite said after an informal workout with local pros Tuesday in Kanata. “I just want one more opportunity. If that’s it, then that’s it. I understand that.”
The Ottawa native has spent the last four years with Mannheim in the Deutsch Elite League. Brathwaite hasn’t been in the NHL since he was in Columbus in 2004, but wanted to take another chance before hanging up his skates.
No one can give him one now because there aren’t any guarantees training camp will open on time with no CBA in place.
“I’d love to get a tryout ... just one more chance for myself to play in the NHL. That’s all I really want,” he said. “Having this lockout is going to kind of roll back to someone like me.
“I had a couple of offers in Europe. Some that were okay, but nothing I really wanted to jump on. Right now, I’ve been skating with these guys and just trying to get myself ready in case there is a camp and an opportunity.”
Brathwaite, who has spoken to three teams about a tryout in camp, said he may have to decide to take an offer in Europe soon if the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association don’t strike a deal to end the labour uncertainty.
“Guys like Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop are going to want to play in Europe if the season doesn’t start over here. If that happens, they’re going to be taking away jobs from guys like myself,” said Brathwaite, who likely will have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.
“If nothing worked out (with a tryout), there was still wiggle room for me to go back to Europe. People are always getting hurt over there and people are never satisfied with their goaltending. Even just a tryout on my resume here would have opened up more doors for me in Europe.”
Brathwaite, who has started a company called Sweet Seat (an iphone app that allows you to order food and merchandise to your seat at sports and entertainment venues), said the fallout from a lockout will be felt at every level — not just to those NHLers not playing.
“It has an effect all the way to the guys in Europe,” Brathwaite said. “These guys are going to go over take those jobs. It’s just going to have an effect all the way down. I’m just trying to get a tryout from anyone who will give me a chance. That’s all I want.”