The Toronto Maple Leafs released former Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth from his professional tryout on Tuesday — two months to the day the Leafs announced the signing.
Over the summer, Neuvirth turned down several better NHL deals for the opportunity to play for his favorite team growing up.
“Me as a kid, I was always a fan of Toronto,” Neuvirth said. “When Kyle called me, I was following my heart with the decision. Toronto was always my favorite.”
Neuvirth believed he could beat out Michael Hutchinson in training camp for the backup job behind Frederik Andersen.
“He is apparently really optimistic,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported then. “From what I heard, Neuvirth had options elsewhere in the league on much more firm deals. He turned them down to take the PTO in Toronto.”
Now Neuvirth’s NHL career is at a crossroads as he plots his next move.
The @MapleLeafs have released Michal Neuvirth from his Professional Tryout.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) September 24, 2019
During his previous four seasons with the Flyers, Neuvirth saw the number of games he played in drop from 32 to 7. The Czech goalie has struggled with lower-body injuries, including a left knee ailment that ended his 2016 season in March of that year.
According to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, part of the reason why Neuvirth agreed to a tryout with the Maple Leafs was that the team granted him a series of free appointments with their doctors. “The best (doctors and trainers) I’ve seen,” Neuvirth said to Fox.
But Neuvirth missed several practices during Leafs Training Camp.
Down to two groups at #Leafs training camp now. Couple practices on deck for today.
Michal Neuvirth is not listed in either group, though. But remains on the training camp roster. Could be an injury update (or some kind of update) forthcoming there. pic.twitter.com/08gFfLbVQk
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) September 16, 2019
He made his eventual debut September 21 for Toronto and stopped 20 of 22 shots against the Buffalo Sabres during two periods of play. It was the first game he had played in since January 3.
“It was okay for the first game back,” Neuvirth said. “There’s still some mistakes I made, but I thought it was a solid effort.
“It was good to play two periods. Body felt good,” Neuvirth added. “Excited for another opportunity.”
Except, that will not come in Toronto.
Babcock says he wasn’t involved in decision to release Neuvirth: “I just know he’s not here today.”
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) September 24, 2019
Neuvirth played 134 games for the Capitals during six seasons in DC. He won back-to-back Calder Cup championships with the Hershey Bears in 2009 and 2010.
Headline photo: Toronto Maple Leafs
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