Well, time to move on to Part 3 of this All-Time Team exercise for the Ducks. You can still chime in on who gets to play #1 center and the #5 and #6 defensemen, though. I'm accepting input on all of these up to the moment of unveiling Sleek's Anaheim Sometimes-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Today's theme: Back-Up Goalie.
To start, I should ask a bit of a pseudo-philosophical question: Ideally, when constructing an All-Time Team, what makes for the better choice for back-up goalie -- the second-best starting goalie in franchise history or the best backup goalie in franchise history? The answer to the first angle is easy for the Ducks, but the second option is a little more convoluted.
Obviously my starter's role is going to J.S. Giguere -- I don't expect a lot of debate there, but who shall play doormaster at the player's bench? I've got five candidates for consideration, as always in chronological order:
Guy Hebert (1993-94 to 2000-01)
441 gp, 173-202-52, 2.75 GAA, .911 sv%, 27 shutouts
If the Ducks didn't have such a rich history of colorful backup goalies, Hebert would be a shoo-in for this #2 slot (and who knows? he might still be). He was really the first goaltending face of the franchise, and for a lot of years was probably the only identifiable player besides Kariya, Selanne, and Rucchin. I was a big fan of Guy Hebert, and probably an even bigger fan of saying "Guy Hebert". If you're pro-North America (ahem, Brian Burke), you should probably vote Hebert. Everyone else on this list is either Russian or Swiss.
Mikhael Shtalenkov (1993-94 to 1997-98)
122 gp, 34-53-11, 3.14 GAA, .897 sv%, 3 shutouts
Shtalenkov's goaltending numbers don't look very impressive, but he was the longest-serving backup in Anaheim's history, and the first backup to step into a playoff series in '97 when Hebert went down with injury. He didn't win a playoff game against the Red Wings that spring, but he battled valiantly against the soon-to-be cup champs, sporting a much more impressive .938 sv% during the postseason. Shtalenkov's main asset in this quest for all-time backup is nostalgia; I remember the guy very fondly, and even though he wouldn't put up great numbers over long stretches, he was capable of short-term brilliance, which I think is a pretty good asset for a backup to have.
Martin Gerber (2002-03 to 2003-04)
54 gp, 17-23-7, 2.13 GAA, .923 sv%, 3 shutouts
"Gerber Bell" (that nickname has a side story for another day) put up some really good numbers in his time in Anaheim, but I included Gerber not for his spectacular numbers, but rather Giguere's. After all, perhaps the criteria for this backup slot should involve the question: "which backup will elicit the best performance from the starting goalie?" And Gerber's got that category cornered. In 2003, he backed Giguere to the cup finals and a Conn Smythe trophy. In 2006, he backed up Cam Ward to the cup finals and a Conn Smythe trophy. Then in 2007 he backed up Ray Emery to the cup finals, though some bearded dude took the Smythe home that year. I know that we're only considering achievements done in an Anaheim uniform, but in 2003 Gerber Bell sat on the bench while Giguere put on the postseason performance of a lifetime. Does that karmic boost give Gerber a spot on the All-Time Team?
Ilya Bryzgalov (2001-02 to 2007-08)
69 gp, 26-23-8, 2.48 GAA, .909 sv%, 2 shutouts
While I'm listing four historical backups in this exercise, I suspect that we'll boil down quickly to Hebert vs. Breezy, because Bryzgalov was the first back-up to really have success when Giguere went lame. Two years in a row J.S. Giguere was a surprise non-starter for the first game of the postseason, and two years in a row Breezy stepped in and was phenomenal. The Ducks have won six playoff series since the lockout, and more or less Breezy has won three of them. He has a better postseason GAA and Sv% than Giguere has, if you can believe it, and even trumped Jiggy's 217-minute postseason shutout streak. And while there's plenty of on-ice accolades for the crazy Russian, I must point out how awesome it is every time Breezy steps in front of a microphone. The guy is nuts, and I love it.
Jonas Hiller (2007-08 to current)
23 gp, 10-7-1, 2.06 GAA, .927 sv%, 0 shutouts
The last and current backup for the Ducks, Jonas Hiller, probably won't get a lot of consideration in this All-Time exercise -- Hiller's the only one on this list to never play a postseason minute in a Ducks uniform. Still, I throw him on the list primarily for one reason -- he did have a fantastic first year backing up Giguere. Behind the Net's Gabe Desjardins authored a post several months ago that broke down shot quality that goaltenders faced, and assigned each goalie an "expected GAA" and an "expected save percentage". In terms of goalies who had the best actual GAA compared to their expected GAA, Hiller ranked fourth in the league, behind Wade Dubielewicz, Henrik Lunqvist, and Giguere. I don't think it's enough to get him on the All-Time team, but I'm definitely excited that Hiller stayed on board with the Ducks; he's got a promising future for sure.
So that's the five I've listed, though as always you are free to write in Dominic Roussel or Steve Shields or some nonsense like that. Who should get the backup spot on Anaheim's All-Time Team?
I'm not quite sure how debatable this topic will be, so I'll also throw a few side questions on top of it.
1. Who should coach this All-Time Team? Randy Carlyle, Mike Babcock, or (I'll even accept) Ron Wilson?
2. Who should GM this All-Time Team? Brian Burke or Bryan Murray? (Bear in mind this team will feature quite a few Europeans, which might make Burkie uneasy.)
And make sure to stay tuned for the fourth and final installment of the All-Time Team ask-the-audience segment (oh, sometime next week), where we'll build ourselves some fourth-line energy shifts. Can't wait.