RALEIGH, N.C. – It was a long time coming, but Spencer Machacek got another chance.
The Thrashers prospect returned to the NHL on Sunday, nearly 22 months after he made his debut. Machacek was re-called from AHL Chicago by the Thrashers, along with Tim Stapleton, after injuries and a suspension have left the team short of forwards. The right wing appeared in two games for the Thrashers March 16-17, 2009. He spent all of last season at Chicago.
“I tried to stay positive down there and work on the things I needed to work on to get up here,” the 22-year old said before Sunday’s game against Carolina. “It’s nice to be back up. It kind of feels like the first time again.”
The Thrashers needed to recall two forwards as Evander Kane (mid-body), Jim Slater (concussion), Fredrik Modin (mid-body) and Ben Eager (suspension) did not make the road trip to North Carolina. The moves give the Thrashers 12 forwards.
“I’m just going to keep it simple and play my game,” Machacek said. “Get pucks in deep, finish my checks, be a hard working guy and get all the pucks along the walls. That’s what I’ve been know for, my work ethic, and I have to bring that here.”
Machacek has played 39 games for the Wolves this season with 33 points (14 goals and 19 assists) and a plus-14 rating. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has 130 points (57 goals, 73 assists) in 195 career AHL games with Chicago (2008-09 to 2010-11).
Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay gave Machacek a baptism by fire.
“As much as I can, I like to throw the kids in and let them play,” Ramsay said. “One of the hardest things for a kid coming up is to sit on the bench and then suddenly get tossed out [on the ice]. We want to get him in quickly and feeling like he’s a part of our hockey club. Let him go out there and play. We are not going to babysit you. If he struggles, then we have to make adjustments.”
Stapleton made his third appearance with the Thrashers since signing as an unrestricted free agent on Nov. 30. He has appeared in 10 games without a point. He did score a shootout goal in a victory over Boston.
Kane on IR
To make room on the roster for Machacek and Stapleton, the Thrashers placed Kane on injured reserve Sunday. The move is retroactive to Jan. 5.
Kane has missed two straight games with the injury. He was originally hurt Dec. 28 in Boston after being checked into the boards. He missed the following game and returned to play three more games. However, he has not played or practiced since the Jan. 5 game at Florida.
Kane, tied for third on the team with 13 goals, has played 40 games this season with 26 points.