With all due respect to quarterbacks, is there any question that hockey goaltender is the most important position in sports? With free agent signing period upon us, just think about the consequences of getting this position wrong.
Last year’s Flyers. Traded away Bobrovsky and went with Bryzgalov as their goaltender. Bob won the Vezina and almost got an offensively deficient Blue Jackets team into the playoffs single handedly. The Flyers didn’t make the playoffs and bought out Bryzgalov this week. They now either need to turn Steve Mason into the greatest reclamation project of all time, or find another goalie.
Not a good enough example, how about those Blue Jackets? So, so close to a playoff berth, which would only have been their second. The only year they had a playoff team, Steve Mason’s Calder winning rookie year. Every other year, even with a much more talented roster, poor goaltending kept them from being competitive at all.
Or, how about another goaltender who is being bought out this week, Rick Dipietro? He was an All Star goaltender and the face of the Isles franchise. He was all set to spend his career having the team built around him. Then he got hurt, then he got hurt again, and again, and again. More importantly than the long contract that seemed silly as the missed games piled up, the Isles fell apart without a decent solution in goal, for years. The high price of getting it wrong in goal.
Here’s hoping the promise shown by those same Islanders last season isn’t derailed by a poor choice in goaltending this year. It’s an open question going into the offseason, and getting it wrong will only set this team back once again.