“I figured something would happen, but I didn’t know how, when, where, why, who,” LaBarbera said on Friday. “I had no idea. I knew something was going to happen. I just didn’t know how it was going to play out.
“I’ve never seen this many goalies get hurt before. It’s been interesting. Every day you’re like, ‘Oh, man, maybe I’ll go here, maybe I’ll go there, maybe I’ll go here. I don’t know.’ It can be stressful at times, but it’s all part of the gig. You got to pretty much wait to see what happens and figure it out from there.”
LaBarbera finally got the news on Dec. 14 that he was heading from the last-place Oilers to the first-place Chicago Blackhawks. He was sent to the AHL after the trade, but he was recalled on Thursday and joined the team for a morning skate on Friday.
“To go from one extreme to another, it’s exciting for sure to come to an organization like this and a room like this with this group of people,” LaBarbera said.
Joining the Blackhawks marks LaBarbera’s sixth different team in the league. He’s played for the Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers. He spent four seasons with the Coyotes, but has otherwise bounced around.
LaBarbera’s role with the Blackhawks will be to back up rookie goaltender Antti Raanta. It’s uncertain whether LaBarbera will get any starts himself. Corey Crawford is expected to return to practice in the next few weeks.
“I think he gives some us some experiences and he’s played in the league and some depth in the position there,” Quenneville said of LaBarbera on Friday. “With Antti being new and a couple young kids down in Rockford, our organization got a little thin with both [Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin] being out that. That’s what he brings us. We’ll see along the way when we can get him in.”