Friday, August 07, 2009

Is Pascale in Le-Clear?

While the summer months are normally slow with hockey talk, we typically find ourselves digging deep to discuss anything and everything worth an ounce of interest - but not this year. Our once beloved 50 goal man has managed to give us a real scoop! A huge news story with buckets of speculation. It's made us confused, angry, potentially violent, but overall very interested. So, we talk and talk and talk about it. Then we have lunch. Then we talk about it some more.

And so, as we head into another weekend with #15 on our roster, I'm desperate to change the focus a tad.

While Dominant Dany has dominated our chatter, there's another news story that has flown under our radar. Mind you, this is a story of significantly less drama and intrigue. On second thought, it might not even be a story, but consider this...

Much like our recent coaching history, we have had bad luck, or just poor talent, between the pipes. No this is not a story or anything close to news. Hasek was pushing, what, 50? Gerber was Gerber. Emery was sleeping in. Auld was, and will always be, a back up. Elliot, bless him, was (is) young and unproven. Year after year, we end up disappointed with one goalie or another. And much like recent years, we welcome a freshly painted mask to man our net. Welcome Pascale Leclaire.

Given the above mentioned recent history, you'd expect us to put a lot of focus on Leclaire. Not only is he our new tender, but he comes in with a not-so-proven past. Shaky, injury prone and, well, not handsome - Pascale poses a lot of question marks. And while these concerns were being discussed upon his signing, they were quickly overshadowed by the saga to end the decade.

So let's talk about it.

Personally, I like this signing. I have faith in Leclaire. He's a first round draft pick, he had early success on an awful team, and he's still young. I believe he can solve our perennial goalie woes. That said, and I've said this over and over again, Leclaire will be the backbone to our success. If he's as good as I hope he is, he will propel us into spring hockey. But on the flip side, we will be hard done by without a reliable tender.

This should be a lot of pressure! But, thanks to Heatley, nobody's talking about this. And the longer the saga sags on, nobody will be talking about it. And this, my friends, I think is a good thing. To be honest, I don't know enough about Leclaire to know how he handles pressure. But in any case, being out of the spotlight in a new town with new fans who will be demanding success is likely ok for any goalie. And while the hot lights will no doubt shed some focus on Leclaire at the beginning of the season, it will not be the intense pressure as it could have, or should have been.

So, we can thank Heatley for two things at the moment: 1) He's given us loads to talk about, and 2) He's taken some pressure off our new goalie who lacks any enduring success in the show.

How's that for a change of subject? What do you think? Is the saga a good thing for Leclaire? Does it take any pressure off him? Or have I just rambled on for no good reason on a quiet Friday night?


Canucnik said...

Pascal will be fine...he's proved it, coming from a very good defencive team.

The question is can any goalie, including George V├ęzina, cary our American League DEFENCE?

The answer is keep Heatley and play the whole fkn game in their end. If they get 5, we score 6!

duff said...

Hey Nikm Hasn't Pascal just proven himself in one season and then got a big raise? Doesn't that sound a lot like Gerbage having one solid regular season in Raleigh and then having Mucks throw $11.1M his way (at the urging of Murray, of course). Leclaire still has a long way to go to prove he is a top ten goalie in the league. Right now, he isn't sniffing that list.

The thing that he has going for him is that he grew up in QC and knows what he's getting into here. Gerbage came from a non-hockey country and played in a non-hockey city. Ottawa was too much to handle. I think Leclaire can handle the pressure, I just hope he can stay healthy and keep a few pucks out.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can say Switzerland is a non-hockey country, certainly not within the last 20 years. I have been there, and my brother has played there at a pro level. The fans like it. granted, it is still not anywhere close to Canada/US, or Sweden, or even Russia.

Soccer still comes first, but that is true of most European countries.

I think it is fair to say, now, that LeClaire is the best goalie talent wise that Ottawa has ever had, nothwithstanding Hasek.

We'll see how he does, but if Ottawa can get back to allowing between 20 and 30 shots a game, Leclaire's GAA is going to look real good. If we allow 30+ shots, well, it could be a long season again.


Canucnik said...

"Haute cuisine" and good French wine in Ottawa is identical to La belle province.

The man is home...chez lui.

He's got game...and like Ray and many other big goalies is not afraid to protect his crease.

His toughest games, of course, will be on the road with our defence...we don't exactly clear the front of the net like an NHL squad is supposed to.

Brian will push him...wait till Elliott show him the trapper in the drills @ practice. Pascal will start to cary the two tennis balls again...this is good, keeps everyone sharp.

duff said...

Kj, I'm not saying Switzerland doesn't have hockey, but I am saying that it doesn't carry the national pressure of a Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, etc. I don't think Gerber was suited for pressure of a hockey market. I know it probably isn't fair to paint all Swiss hockey players with the same brush, but I don't think the Swiss have global hockey expectations compared to all the other national programs around Europe

Canucnik said...

Largest (per capita) standing DEFENCIVE army in the world (quickest to deploy) and they want them to play foot ball (soccer) and ride their bike to stay in shape.

Won the Bronze in the 1948 Olympics and let the program go it was military. Someone forsaw that Gerbs would be their goalie in the next melinium.

Grinder said...

Someone who watched Leclaire play many times told me that he was most certainly the real deal. In fact, he was widely expected to be an all-star, before the tweaks started... ouch! this hurts... and Ow! that hurts...

Sounds like Havlat - tons of potential, but never healthy enough to make a run at greatness.

Anyway, I think he will be fine with whatever pressure he might find in Ottawa, as long as he can stay healthy for a while. Any setback will place the spotlight squarely on him.

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