Friday, October 2, 2009

Tracking The Results Of the Big Decision Of the 2008 Summer ... Signing Theodore vs. Huet

Call me a guy who won't let some things go ... I know you're right and it's true. But hey, when I as part of a fan base, indeed a city's metropolitan area embrace a guy and he spurns us when our team's management gives him basically what he originally said he wanted, yes I'm a little bitter. So when that drives us to a choice and an alternative presents itself, wants to come play for "our team" and then shows up and basically delivers, yet the fan base continues to wonder if we made the right choice; I feel a need to present the facts at hand, and ensure the record is straight on the matter.

Last year, through the regular season here's how Jose Theodore did:

He finished the regular season with a record of: 32 Wins, 17 Losses and 5 Overtime Losses. He appeared in 57 games, had a GAA of 2.87 and a Save Percentage of 0.900. Throughout his 15 year career in professional hockey, Theodore has played in 501 games through last season. His overall record is 215 wins, 214 losses, 30 ties and 15 Overtimes with a GAA of 2.67 and a save percentage of 0.908. In the season prior to the Caps signing him Theodore played in 53 games, went 28-21-3, and had a GAA of 2.44 with a Save Percentage of 0.910. If you look at Jose Theodore's play since the lockout ended you'll see his Save Percentage hadn't been over 0.900 except for the 2007 - 2008 season before the Caps signed him. So if you compare what he did last year to his career stats, etc.; you'd have to say that Theodore had to have delivered on what the management that signed him should have expected. In face he may well have exceeded those expectations. From my perspective I like the guy, thought it was a good signing then and still do. Here's why - the Caps management didn't go for Huet because they didn't want to lock in their goaltending to him for three years. The fact that Theodore was a million dollars a year cheaper didn't seem to mean a lot to most of us during the summer of 2009 but is sure does now. eh? Further take a look at what we would have gotten. Sure, Gabby opted to stay with phenom Semeyon Varlamov once he pulled Theo in the playoffs, but that was indeed a coach sticking with a hot handed goaltender. In the end Theo was forced to replace Varly for in the final game of the Ranger's series to no avail anyhow.

Last season here's what the Chicago Blackhawks got for the $5.5M they paid Christobel Huet. Huet played in 41 games last regular season and went 20-15-4 in the regular season; his GAA was 2.53 and his save percentage was 0.909. Overall in his career Huet has played in 224 NHL games in his 8 year career prior to this season; he has an overall GAA of 2.45 and a a Save Percentage of 0.916. In the four post lockout seasons prior to signing with the Blackhawks, Huet's save percentage had ranged between 0.916 and 0.936; during those four seasons. Yet last season, after signing a three year deal for $5.5M/season, his GAA and Save Percentage fell off. Huet also didn't play much in the post season appearing in just three fgames and going 1 -2 while the goaltended the Blackhawks had when they acquired Huet, Nickolai Khabibuhin, appeared in 15 playoff games and went 8 - 6. So it would seem that Huet probably under-delivered last season, perhaps that's why the Blackhawks team active roster still shows three goaltenders?

Now what about this season's opening night performances you might ask. Well lets start with the obvious, Theodore and the Capitals notched a Win while the Balckhawks with Huet in the net played the Florida Panthers to a shootout in front of a Chicago home crowd before loosing the shootout two goals to one when Huet failed to stop either of of the two Panthers - Center Steven Reinprecht or Defenseman Ville Koistinen while Panthers Goatender Tomas Vokoun stopped 2 of the 3 Blackhawks whiz kids. Jose Theodore faced 20 shots from the Boston Bruins, a team that many pick to return to the playoffs this year, and stopped 19 of them for a SV% of 0.950 and a GAA of 1.00. Christobel Huet stopped 24 of 27 shots and finished the night with a Save percentage of 0.875 with a GAA of 2.77. So basically, Huet is starting this season off just the way he finished last season, while Theo showed signs that he will do as well or better than last season and he wants to be the netminder who takes the Capitals to the promised land in the playoffs.

I don't think Theodore is the greatest goaltender that ever lived. I do think he is good and can be very, very good. I also think the above set of facts on the record since June 2009 show two things though, and they show them clearly. First, Caps management clearly made the right choice when they were confronted with it in June 2008. Second, there is no reason to get down on Jose Theodore, in fact, we should get firmly behind him, he's basically done what's been asked of him all the time and he's played at a level consistent with both his career average and within tolerance of his performance with the Colorado Avalanche the last season before he came to Washington.

I can't wait for tomorrow night's home opener to Rock the Red. What about you?


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