CHARLOTTE — James Wisniewski may have set a Carolina Hurricanes franchise record for shortest tenure by a skater: 47 seconds.
“And that’s not one of the records you like to have,” he said Thursday, smiling.
The veteran defenseman was in the Canes’ lineup for opening night in the 2015-16 season, only to suffer an ACL tear early in the game against the Nashville Predators. Wisniewski was lost for the season, then had his contract bought out by the Canes after the season.
Wisniewski, 33, has been on the move this season. He played for Admiral Vladivostok in the KHL. He played in Switzerland. He’s now with the Chicago Wolves, signing an American Hockey League contract with the St. Louis Blues affiliate.
The guy they call the “Wiz” and the Wolves opened their playoff series Thursday against the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles Coliseum. He’s one of the 30-plus players the Wolves — including Ty Rattie, another former Canes short-timer — brought on the two-game trip to begin the best-of-five Calder Cup series.
Asked Thursday about the season, Wisniewski quickly said, “It’s been awful, to be honest. To be away from the family. To be in three different countries, playing hockey.
“I’m just doing what I’ve got to do to get back to the NHL. It’s been a tough road for me the last couple of years. I’ll keep grinding away.”
The Canes traded for Wisniewski during the 2015 NHL Draft, sending goalie Anton Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks in the deal. Wisniewski, with his right-handed shot, was to help with the power play and on opening night and was paired with John-Michael Liles, giving the Canes two experienced old heads together on the blue line.
Forty-seven seconds later, that all changed.
“It’s crazy,” Wisniewski said. “That’s why I try to tell people that in our sport, it’s a job and you never know when it’s over. It’s not like a team is going to just give you an opportunity. When they’re done with you, they’re done with you. You’re somewhat expendable.”
Wisniewski, who has 552 games of NHL experience, didn’t get any nibbles in free agency last July. He said playing in the KHL was “fine,” despite the horror stories often told on this side of the Atlantic about the Russian league.
“It was a big cultural change but it is what it is,” he said. “Long travel, a lot of skating on that (larger) Olympic ice. It was just tough being away from everybody for 10 weeks. That’s a lot of FaceTime and I probably saw every Netflix show humanly possible.”
Rattie had a cameo of sorts with the Canes this season and put in what he called “hands-down the weirdest game I’ve ever played.”
Rattie, 24, was claimed off waivers Jan. 4 by Carolina from the St. Louis Blues and in the lineup the next night — against the Blues in St. Louis. The Canes won 4-2, and Rattie had an assist the next game in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Rattie played five games for Carolina before being placed back on waivers — and reclaimed by the Blues.
“It’s been been a wild year,” Rattie said. “Going to Carolina I enjoyed my time a lot. I was playing well I thought but unfortunately the team went into a little bit of a struggle and they had to make a change. I was one of the changes.”
Rattie had no complaints about how he was used, saying, “It’s the NHL. They put the players in who they think will win the game. I played five games and obviously I would have liked to have played more. Who wouldn’t? That’s the team’s decision, part of the business.
“But it was a cool experience and a fun one.”