Friday, October 1, 2010

Leclaire Needs To Play

Is it conceivable that goalie Pascal Leclaire could be shunted aside for Brian Elliott yet again, all because of a so-so training camp?
If Cory Clouston's quote is any indication, then, regrettably, yes.

“I’m going to reiterate: Whichever goaltender steps up, we’ll go with. They both, at times last year, did it, but not consistently enough to start at camp and say, ‘This guy is our go-to-guy’ right off the bat.
- Ottawa Sun

It's a bland, blanket statement because almost any coach would say the same thing. You can't bury Elliott because he's here to play some games as well and you want fierce competition between your goalies.

But privately, when Clouston is shooting the breeze with GM Bryan Murray, if he's really considering just handing the reins to whomever is playing better at any moment, or even the old classic "win and you're in" model so disastrously used by the team just a few seasons ago, then the Senators will be headed for another uneven nerve-shattering season where goaltending dominates the discussion.

Leclaire needs to play. A lot of games. He needs to be thrown right back into the net after a tough loss even if he looked like Martin Gerber out there. If Clouston is even having a dream about hockey, Leclaire needs to be in the nets. Leclaire needs to be told he's going to be given some time, some rope, and some patience to become the goalie most believe he can be. He needs a couple of months to sort out his game with his new/old goalie coach in Rick Walmsley.

Clouston is a stubborn guy, and seems to have an affinity for Brian Elliott, a player he had some success with in Binghamton. Fair enough. Elliott has been good at times, but mostly just serviceable. It's hard to believe he has the ability to reach the highs that a healthy and confident Leclaire can. Fans were given a hint in the late stages of the first round last season against the Penguins when Leclaire rose to the occasion and became the team's MVP for a short period of time.

Not that I'm advocating keeping Leclaire on the ice while the Titanic sinks. If Leclaire can't get it together after a certain period of time, then Elliott deserves the shot. If that fails, bring in the kid, Robin Lehner. That's the natural order of things.

But privately, away from the microphones, you have to hope that Clouston is still intent on giving Leclaire the chance to run with it for awhile in the early going.

Or else it's going to be "deja-vu all over again", as Yogi Berra once put it.


Anonymous said...

If the ship starts sinking, I'm worried that that's the type of environment that could ruin a young prospect like Lehner.

Throwing a 19 year old into the fire, and expecting him to be a saviour, is the type situation that never turns out well.

Canucnik said...


You're right!

Win or lose Pascal and Rick get their 20 games...not five...not 10 but twenty was Toe Blake's theory and it worked!

Anonymous said...

Clearly another priority for Coach Clouston in 2011: improved decision making (re: September 4, 2010 Top 4 Priorities For Coach Clouston in 2011)

Maximize the use of team assets (Leclaire, Z. Smith) vs. loyalties toward the Binghamton connections (Elliott, Shannon).

Peter Raaymakers said...

To be honest, I think Clouston's been a lot better than, for instance, Paddock was at managing the goaltenders. He's been reasonable enough to give guys second chances after bad losses. It might not be a bad idea to give a few 'second chances' so that a guy can really get on a roll, but I haven't been too upset with Clouston's goaltending management--yet.

Then again, last year was a bit of an aberration because Leclaire's injury gave Elliott a huge opportunity to get a bunch of games in. If Leclaire and Elliott are both able to stay healthy this year, then we'll see. As for what might happen if the ship starts sinking, I think we'd see Brodeur before Lehner, for the reasons anon@10:04 identified.