The tap on the shoulder Ty Conklin was expecting came yesterday in the Edmonton Oilers' dressing room after the morning skate when coach Craig MacTavish summoned Conklin to his office and told him he'd been placed on waivers.
Conklin will know by 10 a.m. today if he's cleared waivers - if he clears he won't be assigned to the minors immediately but can be demoted within 30 days or 10 games - or if he's been claimed by another team.
After a season of struggling and three weeks as the odd-man out in an awkward goaltending triangle with Jussi Markkanen and Mike Morrison, Conklin says he's hoping for the latter - a fresh start elsewhere.
"I hope so," said Conklin after talking things over with Denver-based agent Kurt Overhardt. "Any opportunity, I look at as a positive.
"Things haven't gone well for me here this year. Maybe this will give me a chance to go somewhere else and get that opportunity. That's how I'm looking at it."
Conklin, 29, who hasn't played since Jan. 14 when he allowed four goals on 16 shots in a 5-3 loss to Ottawa, met with MacTavish and assistant GM Scott Howson after practice and was given the news.
"It's been pretty difficult, especially the last couple of weeks," said Conklin, who began the season with two years left on his contract and pegged as MacTavish's starter.
"It's not like, you know, it's surprising. Something had to give eventually, but it's not something I was sitting around thinking about until the last couple of weeks. I guess the writing was on the wall that something was going to happen."
Markkanen, who started against Anaheim last night, and Morrison, who'll get the call against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver tonight, have split the workload in the 10 games since Conklin's last appearance.
"We've only got 12 forwards, so if we need the roster spot, we can send him down right away," Howson said of the timing of the move. "He won't have to clear again within the 30 days or 10 games."
Conklin is 5-5-0 with a 3.12 goals-against average and a saves percentage of .872 in 13 appearances this season and is 24-19-4-3 with a 2.53 GAA and a .905 percentage in 55 NHL games since the Oilers signed him as a free agent in April 2001.
"It's also a chance to see if anybody else is interested in him," Howson said. "He's had a very good attitude here and worked hard. It doesn't look like he's going to be back in the net anytime soon."
Conklin's first trip to the minors this season was a three-game conditioning assignment with Hamilton in the AHL before he aggravated the groin strain that landed him there in the first place.
The second, also a conditioning stint, was with the Hartford Wolfpack. He started two games with the New York Rangers AHL affiliate, going 1-0-1, before rejoining the Oilers Dec. 12.
"It's not an ideal situation for them either with three goalies," said Conklin. "To say that we went in and said, 'Trade me now,' that's never happened.
"I haven't played great this year. I would never be one to say I have.
"I can't lie. I felt like I'd played alright since I got back from Hartford, but I've been giving up a goal-too-many a game. I just want to get comfortable playing again. That's the most important thing for me now."