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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Anaheim's All-Time Team: Let's Back Up Giguere

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.

Go Ducks.


Joe said...

I demand a link to the Bryzgalov duck-mask youtube!

I'd give the all time back-up job to Bryzgalov. Frankly, he's better than Hebert, he's actually come up with some big wins in the postseason, while Hebert was just Wing-fodder.

Babcock coaches. Carlyle is a good coach, but I think the best mark of a good coach is getting more of out of your team than anyone could reasonably expect. What Babcock was able to get out of that 2003 Ducks team cements him as the best coach in Ducks history, I'd say.

Brian Burke GM's the all-time team, cause I don't put much stock into either of the Murray brothers.

Earl Sleek said...

I demand a link to the Bryzgalov duck-mask youtube!


Here's the link to Ilya's interview about his mask (roughly halfway through, after Giguere has his say), and as a bonus here's a link to his interview talking about Pronger's Edmonton defection.

If there are better ones, feel free to add 'em. That dude is insane.

Anonymous said...

I guess Hebert should be a shoo-in, as the Ducks goaltending history pretty much comes down to him and Giguere, and he had a couple of awesome seasons in his own right.

I agree that the rich backup history raises some questions, and Bryzgalov just might be the better goalie. Plus he's crazy. And Shtalenkov had awesome hair, a pretty cool name and he made it to the Olympic Final as the starter which, despite having nothing to do with the Ducks per se, makes me grin uncontrollably whenever I happen to remember it. I mean, Hasek's Czech Republic beat Roy's Canada in the semifinal, thus advancing to the final against Shtalenkov's Russia. Right.

Because of the reasons stated in the first paragraph, I'll say Hebert though.

Tom said...

How can anyone vote against Guy Hebert? C'mon, that's like voting against Ron Tugnutt for the BJs.

Earl Sleek said...

C'mon, that's like voting against Ron Tugnutt for the BJs.

Wasn't Tugnutt the one that jokingly ran for Ohio governor or something silly like that?

He'd get my vote just for that stunt.

Anonymous said...

2nd runner-up: Shtalenkov, for the 70 saves I watched him make when Detroit swept the Ducks in '97.

1st runner-up: Hebert, for signing my shirt as I drunkenly accosted him while wandering the club level at the Pond some years ago.

Winner: Bryz, because Edmonton in November months is a minus tirty two. Could you imagine?

Anonymous said...

If we are thinking about the guy that's more able to back up Jiggy, then Guy is not the guy (couldn't resist, sorry). Bryzgalov is the backup goaltender to have, the one that jumps on the ice when needed and does a great job, like a legit #1.
And do not mock Shields! Burke would have loved to have that guy on the Ducks team: a goalie that fights and wears a stitches mask.
Coach: Babcock is the best one. Carlyle is good but, like he himself said, when you have guys like S.Niedermayer and Pronger on your team...
GM: I like Burke but I think Murray did a good work and drafted well, helping on Burke's current success. Then again, Burke was the one that won the Stanley Cup...

Earl Sleek said...

And do not mock Shields!

Ha! I knew there were some Shieldheads out there.

Shields is the team's water boy.

Wooster11 said...

I think it needs to go to Bryz... He really was the most talented backup that the Ducks have had, but definitely nostalgia plays a part and Hebert has a small place in my heart. He definitely was a big part of the team through it's history. But just like Kariya, he won't have his jersey retired by the Ducks because of the lack of actually ever doing anything for them.

And regarding the GM choice... how can you forget Pierre Gauthier? Wasn't he the one who always brought in the Europeans? He pretty much is responsible for the top line you're going to put together (that is if Rucchin gets the nod at center). He did trade Selanne though...
And what about McNab as GM (even though he's never been). He is, after all, the guy that brought in all those undrafted college free agents for the Ducks.

Earl Sleek said...

Dave McNab definitely gets to keep his job (I'm not even sure what to call it -- king of scouts? gem-finder?), because yeah, it's stunning how many players never got drafted but played for the Ducks.

And Francois Allaire can keep his goalie-training duties.

As for Pierre Gauthier, though, feel free to cast a vote that way, but I sort of assumed Ducks fans would probably just want to stick to the coaches and GMs around the two cup runs. I never remembered Gauthier that fondly, to tell the truth, but it's probably because he was GMing before I really knew what a GM did.

Wooster11 said...

I'm not seriously voting for Gauthier... he was terrible...

Just was thinking about how you mentioned there was going to be a lot of Europeans on your all time team.

Burkie definitely gets the nod because he won a cup, although Murray did put most of that team together and he does have that lisp...

Miss. Scarlett said...

"Gerber Bell"

Ah, the good old days. I'm pretty sure that bell is buried somewhere covered in dust and cobwebs.

Earl Sleek said...

although Murray did put most of that team together and he does have that lisp...


I'm pretty sure that bell is buried somewhere covered in dust and cobwebs.

Or probably they put it back where they got it from: around the neck of some loud-necked swiss cow.

Anonymous said...

David McNab is the Ducks Assistant GM and has been since 95. Fran├žois Allaire's job is called goaltending consultant (!) and is with the team since 96.

Earl Sleek said...

Thanks, anonymous. But with all that job title and start date knowledge, no vote on this All-Time Team?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, anonymous. But with all that job title and start date knowledge, no vote on this All-Time Team?
I don't want to give a vote here, glad I'm not on your shoes. Same dilemma as with the defensemen; can't decide between G. Hebert & I.Bryzgalov, but no doubt that Giguere, although not my favourite goalie deserves, definitely deserves to be the starter. Hebert should get the backup spot for the history part and winning the cup with the Mighty Ducks... in my SNES NHL94 multiple playoff runs, of course. Then again, I can only see him as a starter not as a backup... which leads me to Ilya; Bryzgalov is a very good goaltender, starting goalie material although known to us mostly as a backup, that always stepped up when needed, that spent enough time with the organization and like folks said before, INSANE when close to a mic.
Of the other three, just a note that Hiller can become a young top goalie (a swiss Lundqvist) if he continues to develop the way he has.
For coaching I would go with Mike Babcock Jr.; he did a good job all the way from Cincinnati to the big team.
GM... might as well go with Jack Ferreira, the first all the way up to 98, although he stayed in the organization for a while longer as VP; Ferreira drafted Kariya and Rucchin and traded for Selanne and so being the one responsible for best Ducks first line in the 90s. And he is of Portuguese ancestry, always a plus.

Earl Sleek said...

in my SNES NHL94 multiple playoff runs, of course.

TNG, your vote now counts double for this NHL 94 shoutout -- that was, in fact, the game that got me into this sport in the first place.

Of course, had you said Sega Genesis I would have multiplied your vote by 1/2. :)

So now Jack Ferreira has two votes.

And, saying all that, I'm not going on pure vote count anyways, but I have been convinced by good comments throughout. Keep it up!

Bryan said...

Bryzgalov, since he is the only goalie on the list who could possibly be the starter over Giguere.

Anonymous said...

TNG, your vote now counts double for this NHL 94 shoutout

best hockey videogame ever! it actually did the opposite to me: opened up the world of videogames (along with LucasArts adventure games).

when is the final list coming out by the way? I'm curious to hear your reasons for the picks

Earl Sleek said...

when is the final list coming out by the way? I'm curious to hear your reasons for the picks

Yeah, sorry about that delay. I really had some momentum going, but I've been swamped with side previews for other blogs (Pensblog, MYFO, Fanhouse).

Here's my plan, though. One more Q&A post late this week, then I'll present my final team next week for sure. It's my one week off between AOL previews.

best hockey videogame ever! it actually did the opposite to me: opened up the world of videogames (along with LucasArts adventure games).

I just got NHL 09 last night. It so far is incredible. But it's still no 94.