January 31 was an exciting day for Leafs Nation. Not only did they acquire their new captain Dion Phaneuf, they also acquired what they thought to be their No. 1 goalie in J.S. Giguere.
Giguere was dealt from the Ducks for two players who never lived up to expectations (Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala). Both were brought to Toronto under expensive circumstances, Blake got a huge five-year, $20 million deal and Toskala was brought in for three draft picks (first and second in 2007, and a fourth in 2009).
So when Brian Burke managed to trade those expensive busts for a proven winner in Giguere, it seemed like his quick rebuild was coming together nicely. Giguere wasn't exactly a cheap acquisition, coming in with a $6 million cap hit but his deal is done after the 2011 season.
Giguere was getting a chance to play in Toronto and it rubbed off on the players. Not only does the team score more goals on average with him in net, they seem a lot calmer in front of him. Additionally, his presence calmed down Jonas Gustavsson and Jonas' play improved as the season wore on.
While Gustavsson appears to be the goalie of the future, he's not ready to carry the workload now. So coming in to the 2010-11 season (a contract year for him), Giguere would get every chance to impress.
However things haven't quite worked out as planned. Giguere's play has been great when he's been healthy, but his nagging groin injuries never seem to disappear.
Saturday, Toronto will be without their No. 1 goalie again, as Giguere's groin is too sore. Gustavsson should be able to carry the team until his return, so hopefully Wilson let's him rest it so they can sort it out.
If he does need surgery, it still works out for Toronto. They can see what Gustavsson can do with an increased workload (and maybe Reimer can show what he can do in the NHL), and Rynnas can show what he's capable of with an increased workload in the AHL.
Surgery would not work out well for Giguere however. It's still early enough for him to return and play some hockey, but it might be too late to show other teams that he's still got it. Even Toronto might pass on bringing him back for a cheaper deal to back-up Gustavsson.
These events will also show what the team is capable of. Playing harder despite not having their No. 1 goalie is one way to go. Packing in the season and showing they have no confidence in themselves or Gustavsson is the other way to go.
So after this season is done, will Giguere call it quits? Or will he keep fighting and show us he still has a few years left? Time will tell, but it should be interesting to see how both sides handle the situation.
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