Auld gets fresh start

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Alex Auld 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 and youngsters David LeNeveu and Josh Tordjman.

"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."

Auld said playing with Carman product Ed Belfour in Florida was a good learning experience.

"You learn a lot about preparation, having to compete and being intense," said Auld. "Now I'm looking at a fresh start here and sometimes that's the best thing."

Being back in the city where he spent parts of four seasons brought back a flood of memories for Auld.

"I had a great experience here and it's a great grooming ground for the NHL," he said. "It was pretty neat to be part of the first team that played here (in the MTS Centre) because this building means a lot to the city. It's a special place. We had a great playoff run and we sold out the building opening night. It was a lot of fun."

Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky says Auld is having a strong training camp.

"He's stopping pucks," said Gretzky. "I leave goaltenders alone. They're a special breed, like pitchers in baseball. As I tell them, 'I don't care what you do, as long as you stop the puck.' "


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