What is the message exactly that we are sending to backup goaltender Patrick Lalime? The message before this season should have been a very confident, pack your bags – your playing days are over.
But as an organization, they have valued the bottom line and the chemistry in the locker room more than the winning that needs to take place on the ice. So were were forced to watch Lalime suit up night after night, and realistically act as nothing more than an overly dressed winter togue model for the Sabres store. With as many winter hats as he has had to have collected over this season, he should be well stocked in the event he gets a contract to play in the KHL or the Alaskan travel league next year.
Lindy Ruff has over used his goaltender this season, allowing Ryan Miller to return from injury and coast to a 31 game playing streak that will come to an end to night as Jhonas Enroth will start against the Montreal Canadiens tonight, so that Miller can return focused against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Im not against the move, frankly I would rather have Portland Pirates goaltender and Western New York native David Leggio start in goal tonight over Patrick Lalime, but why play the call up game? The Buffalo Sabres are famous for relying too much on a star goaltender, and maybe having Dominik Hasek for so many years burned that ability into the managements minds – but how many decent goaltenders have the Sabres lost because they relied too much on Miller? Dwayne Roloson went on to better things since leaving Buffalo. Marty Biron may have had his career ruined by being overshot by Ryan Miller. That last statement is a long shot, but who knows how is career would have panned out if he were to have stayed in Buffalo and played the role of the starter. But those are the breaks in this league.
While Enroth looks like one of the kids that gets to play during the intermission sometimes – he was drafted for a reason and I can only expect that the same thing is going to happen to him that has happened to every other Buffalo Sabres backup goaltender or goalie of the future that has played in a blue and gold (or black and red) sweater since Dominik Hasek started here. We are going to sign him to an entry level deal next year, he is going to prove some sort of worth, and then he is either going to demand to be traded somewhere that he can get ice time, or he will walk in free agency to a team that needs a starting goaltender, or a more reliable backup.
Long gone are the days of goaltenders that can play almost seventy games a season. Teams in the league don’t need that anymore. A more reliable system is a tandem of goaltenders that are able to step in and win on a moments notice. Take Philadelphia last year. Look at the Pittsburgh Penguins. So they won a cup with Fleury. What has he done for them since. Martin Brodeur will be remember as the last goaltender that a team needed in order to carry them in the playoffs.
So, what message are we sending to Patrick Lalime and future backup goaltenders in Buffalo? Thanks for wearing our uniform, but we would rather trust the guy behind you or one of our defensement to don the pads and pick us up two points. And we wonder why it is so hard to attract free agents to Buffalo. To be a fly on the wall in the off season when Darcy was calling available goaltenders:
UFA Goalie: Hey Darcy, thanks for calling. Yeah, I would be interested in coming to Buffalo. How many games do you think I would be seeing, ten, twenty?
Darcy: Four, maybe six.
Darcy: Hello? Hello? Are you there? We must have a bad connection. Call me back.
Its not all negative about Pat Lalime, he is probably a damn fine good individual. He’s probably real swell to carry in the locker room. He would probably win more games if he was able to see the crease more than four times in an eighty-two game schedule. Another victim of the management team here in Buffalo.
Someone sent me an email today that ended with, here’s to hoping the Pegula era is a great one. I think those sentiments go without saying, all around Buffalo.