Conklin clears waivers and will be sent to Grand Rapids

DETROIT – Ty Conklin has cleared waivers and the Wings will assign him to Grand Rapids.

The Wings placed the backup goal on waivers Monday at noon and he had until noon today for any team to claim him or he would be sent to the minors.

Conklin lost is backup role to Jimmy Howard to Joey MacDonald.

MacDonald, 32, has been an incredible story since being recalled from Grand Rapids and relieving Conklin after one period in Edmonton on Feb. 4. He’s gone 6-1-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.

“Obviously, Joey has been a great story for us,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said Monday. “I still think Ty has some good hockey in him and still has some good games left in him. He hasn’t played a lot and hasn’t had a really good chance to get it going. It opened a crack and Joey MacDonald grabbed it.”

“It feels great getting an opportunity to stay,” said MacDonald, who signed a two-year deal this offseason to remain with the organization. “Last year I spent most of the year here and you don’t want to leave. I started the season down there and was kind of disappointed after training camp a little bit. You’ve just got to go down, work hard and be patient and wait for your opportunity.”

Howard, who has been out since fracturing his right index finger on Feb. 2, will start tonight in Chicago.

“I think Ty Conklin needs to play,” Holland said. “He hasn’t really got it going. His starts have been sporadic and I think his play has probably been sporadic. He’s played some good games and played some games not so good.

“We’re running a risk he’ll get claimed on waivers,” Holland added. “We’re prepared to take that risk. Jimmy Howard’s finger, we believe he’s ready to roll, but we don’t know until he gets at it.”

Conklin had his chance to solidify himself as the backup in Edmonton but gave up three goals on nine shots and never saw the ice again.

Detroit signed Conklin, 35, this offseason to a one-year deal worth $750,000 hoping he could recapture the magic between the pipes he had when he went 25-11-2 in the 2008-09 season as Chris Osgood’s backup. That wasn’t the case as he went 3-5-0 with a 3.40 GAA and a .878 save percentage.

With Howard back, MacDonald will be back on the bench backing up for the time being.

“It’s tough when you’re sitting on the bench for a while and you get thrown in, but that’s kind of the backup role for a goaltender,” MacDonald said. “You’ve got to be ready at all times and it’s a lot easier once you know you’re going to be playing night after night to get into a rhythm.”

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