Louis Domingue had the kind of season anyone could hope for as he aimed to re-establish himself in the NHL. Yet he finds himself on the way back to the minors instead.
Domingue, 27, was assigned to the AHL after clearing waivers on Saturday, along with fellow goalie Mike Condon.
For months, Domingue’s departure from the Lightning has been looming. General manager Julien BriseBois signed Curtis McElhinney on July 1 and named him the team’s backup, saying he hoped to find a new organization for Domingue.
Before the signing was even announced officially, Domingue acknowledged his unenviable situation on Twitter. He posted a gif from of Forrest Gump being told “seat’s taken.”
BriseBois made the move looking ahead to next offseason, when the Lightning will be in an even tighter salary cap crunch than this year and unlikely to afford Domingue.
Without a roster limit in the AHL, the Lightning could send Domingue, Condon (who the Lightning received from Ottawa in return for Ryan Callahan’s contract) and Scott Wedgewood to Syracuse.
Domingue revived his career with the Lightning, after fearing it was over in 2017. He was sent home by Arizona and forced to rent his own ice to stay in shape while he hoped for another team, before being traded to the Lightning.
A stretch of 13 games while Andrei Vasilevskiy was out gave Domingue the chance to prove himself a strong NHL backup last season. With a save percentage of .908 and a goals-against average of 2.88, his stats weren’t flashy, but he came up with big saves when needed to win games.
Now, Domingue has a new seat. But it’s one he likely thought he had outgrown.
He had earned a spot in Arizona, only to see that evaporate out from under him. When Domingue joined the Lightning organization in November 2017, he reported to Syracuse with a positive outlook.
The Lightning figured Domingue was a good insurance policy and he made management look good when he seized each opportunity, first as the No. 3 and then as the backup. Domingue stepped up and went 11-2 during the month Vasilevskiy was hurt last season. That seemed to have cemented Domingue’s role.
BriseBois praised Domingue for having revitalized his career multiple times between the end of last season and the start of this one. He pointed to Domingue as an example when signing Kevin Shattenkirk, who is in a similar but less drastic position after having his contract bought out by the Rangers.
But, there is not room for Domingue in the Lightning’s plans.