One of the keys to the upcoming Boston College hockey season is the recovery of Thatcher Demko. Demko, who has been playing through hip pain and has been in need of surgery for the past two seasons, finally went under the knife this summer and is expected to be able to move better and play pain free this season.
At yesterday's Hockey East Media Day, however, coach Jerry York revealed that Demko is not 100% yet, and may miss the beginning of the season. WEEI's Scott McLaughlin reported that York said he'd definitely be ready to go by the end of October or early November, but couldn't say for sure if he'd be able to play on opening night. The Boston College Hockey Blog noted that Demko was present and looked good at the team's practice session yesterday, though obviously practice is much different from game pace.
You may recall that similar questions were raised about whether or not John Muse would be ready for opening day in 2009 after undergoing a similar procedure that summer. Muse ultimately did play from the very beginning of the season and wound up backstopping the team to a national title.
Should Demko have to miss the beginning of the regular season, BC has the luxury of not starting the conference slate until November 3. The Eagles' first five games are also against opponents who struggled to some degree last season in Army, RPI, Wisconsin and Colorado College (x2).
If Demko misses any games, it's likely that freshman Chris Birdsall will be the starter. Birdsall had a solid season in the USHL last year, amassing a .914 save percentage and 2.46 goals against average in 29 starts for the Youngstown Phantoms. It was an important season for Birdsall, who struggled in his first two years in the USHL, posting sub.900 save percentages in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.
While Jerry York will likely not reveal too much to the press in the coming weeks, we should get a good sense of Thatcher Demko's availability a week from Saturday, when the Eagles take the ice for an exhibition game at Conte Forum against the University of New Brunswick.