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Today in Goalies Who Screwed the Leafs: J.S. Giguere

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Post-lockout, when 51-year-old Ed Belfour was inexplicably signed to play goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs, I wished for him to just, you know, go away. After what we all knew to be true was confirmed: that Belfour could no longer play the position, that the Eagle was grounded. I wished upon Eddie — God love him, a great goalie who absolutely owned Ottawa in the playoffs — a bender, the likes of which he’d never seen. The bender I knew he had it in him to go on. It broke my heart to watch a once-proud goalie, who had 10 bloody shutouts in 2003/2004 (for the Leafs!), go out the way Belfour was. It was obvious: he was done.

Mikael Tellqvist and J.S. Aubin were never good enough to truly care about. I do remember when the Leafs faced Tellqvist, though, back on December 4, 2008 in Phoenix. He was awful, and played only 40 minutes after allowing three goals on nine shots. Vesa Toskala, Toronto’s goalie, was worse, allowing six goals on 26 shots. Toronto lost, the final 6-3 Coyotes. With Andrew Raycroft backing up Toskala, effectively leaving Toronto without a back-up goalie, the Leafs had no choice but to go down with the leaky ship.

(In his dreams, Toskala owns a boat: The Vesina.)

We’ve watched some awful goaltending in Toronto over the past few years. I mean really fucking awful. And it’s led to some serious personal bitterness. When Toronto faced Raycroft in Colorado in late January 2009, I wanted nothing more than for the Leafs to light him up. Payback. It was a game that I’d have circled on my Leafs calendar, if I had one of those Leafs calendars, you know, from Shoppers Drug Mart, the ones we all had as kids. Actually, physically circled, in red, on the calendar, along with, I don’t know, something subtle like “DEATH TO RAYCROFT.” The Leafs scored on Raycroft that cold, awesome January night, and scored on him often. It was fantastic. Seven Toronto goals on 30 shots. It was fun.

That’s what being a Leafs fan of late had been reduced to: revenge. I won’t lie: I wanted some very bad things to happen to Vesa Toskala. I’m still a little bit bitter over the fact he bolted for some Finnish beer league, where I have no doubt he’s one of the shittier goalies, before the Leafs, and Phil Kessel, got to him.

Tonight, in a few hours, J.S. Giguere makes his not so triumphant return to Toronto. Looking back at his 2010/2011 numbers — 11 wins, 11 losses, and a .900 save percentage — Giguere was better than I thought. Which is fucking sad, because those numbers aren’t very good. They’re average brutal. And that’s how I’d describe Giguere’s time in Toronto: so very average brutal, even though it seemed worse. But I don’t care. About Giguere, I mean. I could care less whether the Leafs light him up. I’d like for them to beat Giguere, and Colorado, obviously, so we can all enjoy another “Four-and-Oh!!!1″ parade, but in the grand scheme of things, Giguere doesn’t matter. (Although I’m still a little pissed off with Ron Wilson and the fact he started Giguere on March 17 in Florida, last season, against the Panthers, a 4-0 shutout loss. Giguere had no business playing that game, it being Reim Time and all, the Leafs still on life support in their valiant and very honorable quest for eighth place in the East. But, whatever.)

Finally, I feel indifference towards a former Leafs goalie, and this pleases me. Because I could hate Giguere. I could want the Leafs to absolutely destroy him, and his groin, the one that’s keeping his career alive, albeit barely, because it made absolutely zero bloody sense for Giguere to not have surgery, and play most of last season injured. But to blame Giguere for that would mean I’d have to blame the Leafs, the management, the fucking franchise, because certainly part of the blame for that bonehead decision — to keep playing the ancient and injured Giguere — falls on the Leafs’ shoulders. And, well, I think all of us supporters of the Leafs are past blaming the team. Really, what’s the point? The shit list’s way too long. It’s much easier to breed contempt for players who don’t perform, instead of the geniuses bringing them in in the first place.

The point is: I no longer need to concern myself with the long list of goalies who have, over the years, absolutely screwed Toronto. Because the Maple Leafs actually — finally! — have a goddamn goalie. If Giguere shuts the Maple Leafs out tonight, which he very well might, he isn’t J.S. Giguere the former terrible Leafs goalie who of course shut them out. No, instead, he’s just another terrible goalie who shut out the Maple Leafs. Period.

I wasn’t so sure this day would come. I probably didn’t think it would be today, and I definitely didn’t think the goalie to lead me away from the bitterness would be James Reimer. But today’s the day, and Reimer’s the goalie, and, for a little while at least, everything is perfect. No, literally. The Leafs haven’t lost yet.

UPDATE:

Leafs lose, Avs win, I hate Giguere.

Image via this isn’t happiness.

Written by Navin Vaswani

October 17th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

6 Responses to 'Today in Goalies Who Screwed the Leafs: J.S. Giguere'

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  1. Perhaps you are being too hard on the goalies. The link that binds them all over the years has been a bad defense.

    Fullmer Fan

    17 Oct 11 at 5:24 pm

  2. Yes the Leafs D is so bad that everywhere we send players they thrive. Kubina and McCabe were successful after leaving. Stralman, Kaberle, White, Colaiacovo. All useful pieces.

    Meanwhile Toskala got cut from an SEL team the year after we dumped him. Andrew Raycroft is a crummy backup. Tellqvist, Aubin and others have never found NHL success.

    It’s probably the defense though, you’re right.

    Chemmy

    17 Oct 11 at 5:33 pm

  3. Of course those players looked better in other organizations. They moved into places with more talent and better coached systems.

    Scapegoating the goalies is not the answer here.

    Fullmer Fan

    17 Oct 11 at 5:41 pm

  4. I think everyone deserves a share of the blame: personnel, coaching, systems, and even though it falls under both coaching and systems, a special shout out to special teams. I mean, for fuck’s sake, kill a penalty.

    That being said, scapegoating goalies is definitely a reasonable decision, on my part. In my defense: all the goalies save for Reimer post-lockout have been fucking awful. No ifs ands or buts about it.

    Navin Vaswani

    17 Oct 11 at 5:44 pm

  5. If all of our old defenders can contribute positively, and none of our old goalies can contribute positively, then maybe the simple analysis that suggests goaltending is at fault is correct.

    Maybe instead of the coaching being bad and the systems being wrong and all six of the d-men being bad maybe it was just the goalie.

    Chemmy

    17 Oct 11 at 6:57 pm

  6. Your theory would make sense if the majority of those goalies didn’t have prior success with other teams. But they did.

    It goes both ways.

    Fullmer Fan

    17 Oct 11 at 7:24 pm

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