Norm Maracle (born 2 October 1974 in Belleville, Ontario) is a professional ice hockey goaltender who played in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers. Currently, he is playing with the Slovenian team HDD Olimpija Ljubljana in Austria's Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.
Maracle joined the WHL's Saskatoon Blades during the 1991–92 season and remained with them until the 1993–94 season. Maracle's level of play during the 1993–94 season would earn him the Del Wilson Trophy for best goaltender in the WHL. Prior to the 1993–94 seasons, the Detroit Red Wings drafted Maracle in the 5th Round, 126th overall, in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
Professional career in North AmericaEdit
For the start of the 1994–95 season, Maracle was signed by the Red Wings and reassigned to their AHL affiliate the Adirondack Red Wings, sharing goaltending duties with Kevin Hodson. For the 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons, Maracle would remain in the AHL, posting prolific winning records and a high save percentage each season, but didn't get called up to the NHL due to the Red Wings' overwhelming goaltending depth, being the fourth goaltender behind Mike Vernon, Chris Osgood and Hodson.
While Maracle would spend the 1997–98 season as the starting goaltender in Adirondack, he would eventually get the call up from the Red Wings and post a 2–0–1 record in four NHL appearances. He did not see any playoff action that season, where the Red Wings would go on to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship. He was included on the team picture, and awarded a Stanley Cup Ring. However, his name does not appear on the Stanley Cup, because he did not play enough games.
Maracle challenged Hodson for the backup spot for the 1998–99 season. Maracle put up solid numbers during the season and as a result, became Detroit's backup goaltender to Osgood. Maracle appeared in 16 regular season contests, posting a 6–5–2 record and a 91.8% save percentage. Hodson, however, was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the trade deadline so the Red Wings could acquire Bill Ranford as Detroit's third goaltender. Due to Ranford's strong showing towards the end of the regular season, the Red Wings kept Maracle on roster, but designated him as the third goaltender. After the Red Wings defeated the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the opening round of the playoffs, they went on to face the Colorado Avalanche in the Conference Semifinals. Osgood was injured prior to the first game, placing Ranford as the starting goaltender and having Maracle serve as his backup. Maracle played in two games against Colorado, relieving Ranford in both instances. By the time Osgood returned from being injured, the Red Wings couldn't solve the Avalanche and were eliminated in the playoffs. Not having lived up to expectations, Ranford was not re-signed at the end of the season. Maracle also fell under scrutiny because not only did he not perform as expected in the playoffs, but his conditioning was coming into question. Due to this, Maracle was unprotected in the Expansion Draft, resulting in the Atlanta Thrashers claiming Maracle 2nd overall in the 1999 NHL Expansion Draft on 25 June 1999.
Maracle earned the nickname "Miracle" due to the fact that despite being a borderline starting goaltender, Maracle would once in a while would have superb games (including three 50+ save performances), bailing his team out, i.e. only with a miracle in net could Detroit win.
With the 1999–2000 season in the NHL being the first for the Thrashers, there was some instability in the lineup. Maracle still managed to start in more games for the Thrashers than any of the other four goaltenders whom he played alongside with (being Damian Rhodes, Scott Fankhouser, Scott Langkow and Rick Tabaracci). However, with a shaky defense playing in front of him, Maracle finished the season with a 4–19–2 record and would have a save percentage under 90%. The team did not make the playoffs.
When Maracle reported for the 2000–01 training camp, his conditioning had become so poor that he was reassigned to the Orlando Solar Bears of the International Hockey League, Atlanta's minor league affiliate. In spite of this, Maracle worked hard to post an impressive 33–13–3 record at a minor level. His 33 wins and eight shutouts that season with Orlando were team records. As well, he helped backstop the Solar Bears to their first and only Turner Cup victory in the International Hockey League in the league's final year of operation. His strong minor league performance earned him 13 appearances for the Thrashers during that season. Though his record for the Thrashers was 2–8–3, his save percentage slightly improved.
Maracle would only appear in one NHL game for the 2001–02 season, being a 3–0 loss to the Washington Capitals on 10 November 2001. This would be his last NHL game to date. Maracle would spend the rest of the season with the Thrashers' new minor league affiliate, the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. Maracle was the starting goaltender with Pasi Nurminen backing him up.
For the 2002–03 Season, Maracle remained in the minors while Nurminen ascended the depth charts to become Atlanta's starting goaltender, with Milan Hnilicka, Byron Dafoe and Frédéric Cassivi supporting him. While Hnilicka and Cassivi would be assigned and recalled from their minor league affiliate, Maracle did not receive that same privilege. Having run out of options to leave the minors in the North American system, Maracle signed with Magnitogorsk Metallurg of the RHSL on 8 June 2003.
Professional career in EuropeEdit
Maracle, better conditioned and in a new system, would appear in 46 contests for Magnitogorsk Metallurg for the 2003–04 season.
Though he signed a contract with the Nurnburg Ice Tigers of the Deutsche Liga at the start of the 2004–05 season, he never appeared in a contest for them. Maracle ended up signing with the 2004 RHSL Champion Avangard Omsk on 5 November 2004. Maracle would go on to compete with Avangard for the European Cup Championship, which Avangard ended up winning.
Maracle established himself as the starting goaltender for Avangard for the 2005–06 season as well.
In the 2006–07 season, though Maracle served Avangard as their starting goaltender for their previous seasons, he supported Alexandre Fomichev as the team's backup goaltender. The team placed third overall in the league and went to the semi-finals of the Russian Super League Championships before losing to the eventual champions, Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
For the 2007–08 season, Maracle signed with the Iserlohn Roosters in Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Maracle has become a favorite amongst Roosters fans, especially for his on ice antics including break dancing.
Maracle joined HDD Olimpija Ljubljana who played in the Austrian League in the 2009–10 season and played than from January between April 2010 for the Kölner Haie.
|1990–91||Calgary North Stars||AMHL||29||1740||99||0||3.43|
|1994–95||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||39||12||15||2||1997||119||0||3.57||.896|
|1995–96||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||54||24||18||6||2949||135||2||2.75||.905|
|1996–97||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||68||34||22||9||3843||173||5||2.70||.916|
|1997–98||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||4||2||0||1||178||6||0||2.02||.905|
|1997–98||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||66||27||29||8||3709||190||1||3.07||.912|
|1998–99||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||6||3||3||0||359||18||0||3.01||.908|
|1998–99||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||16||6||5||2||821||31||0||2.27||.918|
|2000–01||Orlando Solar Bears||IHL||51||33||13||3||2963||100||8||2.02||.925|
|1995–96||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||1||0||1||30||4||0||8.11|
|1996–97||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||4||1||3||192||10||1||3.13|
|1997–98||Adirondack Red Wings||AHL||3||0||3||180||10||0||3.33|
|1998–99||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||2||0||0||58||3||0||3.10||.864|
|2000–01||Orlando Solar Bears||IHL||16||12||4||1003||37||1||2.21|