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BEHIND THE SCENES: After more than 2,100 days, Ken Appleby is back playing in the NHL

BayToday reporter Chris Dawson takes us behind the scenes

In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.

These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed. You can find more Behind the Scenes from reporter across Ontario here

Today's spotlight is on BayToday's Chris Dawson, whose story 'After more than 2,100 days, Ken Appleby is back playing in the NHL' was published on Jan. 15.

It was a night of celebration for Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc Andre Fleury as he moved into second place in all-time goaltender wins passing Patrick Roy as the Minnesota Wild dumped the New York Islanders 5-0 in Minnesota Monday night. 

But here in North Bay, the real historic story was on the other end of the ice as Ken Appleby was back in the National Hockey League. 

You see, you have to go back to late January of 2018 for the last time Ken Appleby played goal in a National Hockey League contest. 

Between then and now, Appleby has toiled in the minors in both the ECHL and AHL, trained in work boots and goalie pads in an East Ferris gymnasium during the summer of 2020 and has tried to keep a positive attitude that he would get another opportunity to play in the National Hockey League. 

That includes signing a two-year, two-way deal with the New York Islanders in the summer of 2022. 

It's been a mere 2181 days since Ken Appleby got into an NHL contest. 

"That's a long time," Appleby told BayToday via text.  

"I definitely don't take it for granted."  

Appleby, a New York Islanders prospect, has been called up to the Islanders to back up Ilya Sorokin. With the Isles down 3-0 in the third period to the Minnesota Wild, the Isles decided to put Appleby in goal to finish the game.  

See related: Appleby working hard to get another shot at the NHL 

See related: Appleby NHL shutout streak continues

The former Oshawa Generals Memorial Cup champion made 6 saves on 8 Wild shots as he allowed two late goals including a shorthanded tally by Joel Eriksson-Ek on a 2-on-1 and Sudbury's Marcus Foligno scored on a tip-in in the final minute of regulation as the Wild went on to a 5-0 win. 

Appleby's last outing in the National Hockey League was a loss in his only ever NHL start as the Devils fell 3-0 to the Nashville Predators on January 25, 2018. 

In fact, that span between NHL action puts in him the National Hockey League history books as the seventh longest break between NHL games for a goaltender. 

Appleby had no idea the break was that long or that historical. 

"That's pretty cool to know," said the 28-year-old.  

Longest spans between appearances by a goaltender, NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68):

  • 3,540 days – Bob Champoux (March 29, 1964–Dec. 7, 1973)
  • 3,223 days – Gerry McNamara (March 19, 1961 – Jan. 14, 1970)
  • 2,813 days – Mikko Koskinen (Feb. 13, 2011–Oct. 27, 2018)
  • 2,504 days – Roberto Romano (Feb. 25, 1987–Jan. 3, 1994)
  • 2,304 days – Troy Grosenick (Nov. 18, 2014–March 10, 2021)
  • 2,244 days – Ernie Wakely (Oct. 13, 1962–Dec. 4, 1968)
  • 2,181 days – Kenneth Appleby (Jan. 25, 2018–Jan. 15, 2024)