June 1, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Bruin: Jim Carey

By Jesse Connolly

Bruins beat writer Jesse Connolly takes a look back at one Bruin from years past every Friday, shining the spotlight on a former member of the Black and Gold that most fans have likely forgotten ever existed.

Today, he's traveling back to the mid '90s, a time when the Bruins thought that Jim Carey could be their savior between the pipes.

Tom Cruise's Irish accent in "Far and Away" was pretty pitiful, but he came out with "A Few Good Men" later that year, so we'll give him a break.

It was June 20, 1992. The world had just been served its second film featuring the dynamic duo of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, “Far and Away” – a rather forgettable tale in which two Irish people come to America and Cruise becomes an undersized boxing juggernaut at local pubs throughout Boston. Then they end up running around a big field claiming land with flags and stuff and, if my memory serves me right, Greg from “Dharma and Greg” ends up shooting Cruise.

[Spoiler: Cruise lives]

Getting back on track, a Boston native – Dorchester, to be precise – by the name of Jim Carey had himself a pretty eventful afternoon on that date. No, no, not back in the 1800s when “Far and Away” takes place, but on the day of the 1992 NHL Draft.

The Islanders traded the 8th (Brandon Convery) and 32nd (Carey) overall picks to Toronto for the No. 5 overall pick (Darius Kasparaitis). The Leafs then flipped the 32nd pick, a third rounder (Stefan Ustorf) and a fourth rounder (identity unknown, apparently) to Washington for their first-round selection (23rd, Grant Marshall) and fourth-round pick (Mark Raiter).

I know, I know. You’re so dizzy that you feel like vomiting.

Washington made Carey the highest goalie selected at the draft. He spent the next two seasons at the University of Wisconsin telling Brian Rafalski it was okay he didn’t get drafted and that the d-man would go on to have a way better NHL career than Carey actually would.

Jim Carey played in just 29 games for the Bruins. (Getty Images)

But no one on Earth would’ve guessed that after the way Carey started off as a pro. After winning the Baz Bastien Memorial Award and the Red Garrett Memorial Award – the AHL’s equivalent of the Vezina and Calder trophies, respectively – the Bay State native went on to win the actual Vezina Trophy the following season, just one month after his 22nd birthday.

The Capitals had themselves a legend in the making. Well, until they saw just how badly Carey flopped in the postseason. A year prior, he went 2-4 as a rookie in the playoffs with an unsightly .834 save percentage. In the spring of ’96, he played a grand total of 97 minutes and still managed to give up 10 – yes, ten – goals, good for an oh-my-god-you-have-to-be-****ing-kidding-me goals-against average of 6.19… from the guy who won the award given to the league’s best goalie during the regular season.

Ten months later, with Carey playing sub-par for Washington during the 1996-97 campaign (17-18-3, 2.75 GAA), Harry Sinden came calling. In a blockbuster trade, the Bruins sent star center Adam Oates, Rick Tocchet and goalie Bill Ranford to the Caps for Carey, a round three pick in ’97 and two youngsters who had yet to prove themselves at the NHL level in Jason Allison and Anson Carter.

Thank the lord for those throw-ins!

The “Net Detective” stunk up the joint down the stretch for the B’s, going 5-13-0 after the trade. He then split 1997-98 between Boston and Providence (where he had a 3.97 goals-against average, I might add).

After appearing in 30 games for the P-Bruins in 1998-99, the B’s gave Carey his walking papers. He caught on with the St. Louis Blues and appeared in four games, while also appearing in two IHL games that season for the good old Cincinnati Cyclones.

"Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" star Jim Carrey (not to be confused with the reheheheheeeally beatable goalie who played for the Bruins for a few seasons)

According to Wikipedia, Carey is currently CEO/President of OptiMED Billing Solutions, Inc., a medical billing company, based out of Sarasota, Fla. and Boston, Mass. A Washington Times article regarding his whereabouts (published in 2000) included quotes from his agent, Brian Lawton, who said Carey invested his earnings well and was working on his business degree at the University of Tampa.

It’s astonishing to consider all that Carey accomplished in such a short time before a serious ear infection in his final season spelled the end for the once-promising netminder. Ironically, every player that was part of the three trades Carey was included in lasted longer in professional hockey – well, except for that mysterious fourth-round pick we/Hockey DB doesn’t know the name of.

Carey’s arrival in Boston had all the ingredients to be a great tale. The local kid who tasted early success hit a rough patch, but could’ve come home to be the franchise goaltender for the Bruins, the team he undoubtedly grew up rooting for.

Instead, Carey’s tenure with the Black and Gold didn’t pan out, making him – dare I say – far and away one of the biggest disappointments in recent Bruins’ history.  

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.