Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
Nobody starts a professional hockey career with the intentions of becoming a minor league hall of famer.
So when it does happen, the honor comes as a surprise, which describes former Las Vegas Wrangers goalie Marc Magliarditi when he was told he was going to be inducted into ECHL Hall of Fame.
“It wasn’t on my radar,” said Magliarditi, 36.
Magliarditi is the second goalie to enter the ECHL Hall of Fame. He will be formally inducted during a luncheon Jan. 23 at the ECHL All-Star Game weekend in Loveland, Colo.
Magliarditi is part of a four-member class, joined by Dave Craievich, Steve Poapst and Darren Schwartz.
“All four played a significant role in the growth and development of the ECHL,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna in a press release.
Magliarditi’s career was spent entirely in the minor leagues, including 10 seasons in the ECHL (four with the Wranglers). Magliarditi is the league’s all-time leader in shutouts (25) and is second in wins (217). He was named to the ECHL all-decade team (2000-09).
“It puts a mark on all of those years of dedication,” Magliarditi said. “If you didn’t play in the NHL, you have something to look back on.”
When Magliarditi was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round of the 1995 NHL Draft, his goal — like many others' — was to play in the NHL.
He got close a few times. He played in the American Hockey League and the now-defunct International Hockey League, but the call to the big time never came.
Magliarditi contributed most of it to timing. Most teams carry two goalies, meaning there are only 60-plus spots available for the countless number of goalies who share similar aspirations.
Five years removed from playing his final game, he doesn’t waste time overanalyzing why he didn’t make it. However, the thought has crossed his mind.
“I’d be lying if I say I didn’t think and analyze it,” he said. “I’ve been pretty darn close several times. ... It’s about being at the right place at the right time.”
Former Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan said Magliarditi had the ability to play in the NHL and agreed that timing wasn’t in Magliarditi’s favor.
“The clock ticks fast for goalies,” said Gulutzan, now the Dallas Stars' head coach. “Sometimes you need a break, and (Marc) never received one.”
Magliarditi began to put his dreams of playing in the NHL behind him after the 2002-03 season. He was 26 and hadn’t played a full season in the AHL.
“After you hit 25 and you’re not getting a full season at the Triple-A level, you realize the door starts to close,” Magliarditi said.
Magliarditi shifted his priorities from playing anywhere in hopes of breaking into the NHL to playing to support his growing family and finding a place where he could settle down when his career ended.
So when it was announced that Las Vegas was going to have an ECHL team, Magliarditi’s interest was piqued. He had immediate family in Las Vegas and wanted a chance to, as he said, “plant my roots.”
Luckily for Magliarditi, the feeling was mutual, as Gulutzan had Magliarditi in mind.
“Marc was probably the first player I recruited,” said Gulutzan, who left Las Vegas in 2009 to coach the AHL’s Texas Stars. “He had ties to Las Vegas, and when you’re starting a new team, goaltender is on the forefront of your mind.”
Magliarditi said signing with Las Vegas caused him to strictly focus on having fun, knowing that it was in all likelihood his final stop. In turn, it allowed him to play well, as evidenced by his 83-45-14 record with Las Vegas.
“It rejuvenated my career being in a stable environment and living in the same place,” Magliarditi said.
It also allowed his family to see him play for the first time in a while.
“I think my mom missed only half a dozen games,” Magliarditi said.
Magliarditi retired in 2007, playing in only five games that year. The reason why he retired at 32 was simple: He was forcing himself to get mentally into games.
“That was the first time in my entire career,” Magliarditi said. “That’s when I knew it must be time.”
After retiring, Magliarditi opened a restaurant before entering the real-estate business.
He still is involved with hockey, helping his children Arianna and Easton develop their abilities.
Magliarditi has been to a few Wranglers games, mostly to see his children play between periods. He estimates the family goes to six to 10 home games a year.
“It’s a time thing,” Magliarditi said of not following the sport closely. “I go to games, but probably not as much as I like.”
When he does attend games, the diehard fans don’t miss an opportunity to say hello. Some wear his jersey.
“The fans love seeing him around,” said Wranglers President Billy Johnson, who said a celebration to honor Magliarditi would take place at a yet-to-be-determined date. “When Marc came to the Wranglers, he was the player grabbing flies out of the sky with chopsticks.”
“He was a great face (of the team),” Gulutzan said. “It helped put the Wranglers on the map.”