SUNRISE — Florida Panthers goalie Alex Lyon admits when he was younger that he did not handle being sent down to the minors very well.
It is a common occurrence among young players trying to make it to the NHL and, until attitudes change, it rarely works out well.
Pouting does no one any good.
Now 30, Lyon says his demeanor has changed and he is able to handle the ups-and-downs of life as a professional hockey player much better than in the past.
“I came to terms with my hockey reality long ago,’’ Lyon said. “That is not saying I do not have a desire to be an NHL goalie. But there were times in my life where I would get real high when I was called up and then there would be a crash.
“I just try to view things differently. I think I have carved out a role in this league as a third guy. If an opportunity arises, I am going to take full advantage. But for right now, I am staying in the moment.”
Lyon, who grew up in Baudette, Minnesota, was not drafted.
After playing two seasons in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers, he went to Yale University where he found great success with the Bulldogs. In three Ivy League seasons, Lyon rewrote that program’s record book.
Lyon still owns the top two seasons at Yale in goals-against average (1.62 in 2014-15 and 1.64 in 2015-16) and has the record for career-save percentage, GAA and wins.
Now in his seventh professional season, Lyon has spent most of his time in the AHL — almost all of it with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Of Lyon’s 24 NHL games, 22 came with the Flyers.
Early in his career with the Flyers, he spent a lot of time going back and forth between Lehigh Valley and the big club and it was not easy on him.
“I struggled early on in my career with the emotional ups-and-downs,’’ he said. “You get in the headspace of ‘I deserve this, I worked hard for this.’ It is not a healthy way of being. Now, whether I am up here or down there, I try and bring the same product every day. I try to be consistent and work hard for the team in any capacity they need me.”
Lyon spent last season with the Carolina Hurricanes, getting into two NHL games — including one against the Panthers — while helping lead the Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup.
It was the first championship Lyon won and he treasures that moment.
In the offseason, he signed on with the Panthers seeing an opportunity to backstop the Charlotte Checkers and try and repeat as an AHL champion.
“I have been through situations like in Philly where we were rotating through eight goalies and that is not an enjoyable way to spend your season,” Lyon said at the end of training camp.
”The two guys here are extremely good. I have found myself learning a lot just being around them. That has elevated my game in some capacity. … But I just want a good solid situation.
“And winning the Calder last year, I invested a lot into the American League team and it paid off. I enjoyed that. Winning championships is a a little like (a drug): You want to win again. I have high hopes for the team down there and we’ll see how that goes.”
He has played well in Charlotte this season and, with Knight out at least until Tuesday, he has come to Florida to help out where he can.
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start today in Buffalo and could again Tuesday in Toronto. With Knight thought to be returning Tuesday, Lyon could be headed back to Charlotte from Buffalo.
Lyon is 9-8-1 with the Checkers with a 2.05/.909.
“It is great to be back and I appreciate any time in the NHL,” Lyon said on Saturday. “I try to take pride in the role I fill and just try not to get too high nor too low. I feel like after the season, you appreciate the times but right now, you have to stay in the moment. I am here to try and help the Florida Panthers win hockey games.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT BUFFALO SABRES
- When: Monday, 1 p.m.
- Where: KeyBank Arena, Buffalo
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4, Sabres 3 (Oct. 15)
- Last season: Florida won 3-0
- All-time regular season series: Buffalo leads 52-47-5, 4 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday at Toronto, 7 p.m.