Thursday, February 28, 2008
Looking at this move from both a GM standpoint and a hockey fan standpoint, bringing Huet in for a song was absolutely the right thing to do. You get a proven number one goalie with experience but also with lots of good years left, someone who can bridge the gap between the old guard and the new - and all for a second round pick in two years. You also shore up a position that, while solid recently, has had peaks and valleys this season and could be a weak spot heading into the postseason.
And, if they can work it right, this move gives the Caps a lot of options. If one guys falters there's someone else to pick up the slack, and if that guy falters there's still someone else in the wings to come in and clean up. It's a luxury a lot of teams don't have - actually it's one that no teams have, and you have to think that it will push all three goalies to play at their best. We've already seen how Olie responded on Tuesday, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a stellar performance that coupled with Laich's offensive explosion gave the Caps a huge two points. If that's how he responds the rest of the way, things could be very promising for this team down the stretch.
But while both Olie and Johnny remain just as classy as ever, there are rumblings. Johnson is frustrated (and understandably so), coming in just at the end of practice today for a bit of ice time and conceivably manning the stands for at least the near future. Kolzig's agent is reportedly unhappy that the Caps brought in another number one goalie. The coach doesn't seem to be completely on board with the idea of a three-man rotation, although like the others he's being professional in airing his concern.
It is confusing why McPhee would choose not to move one of the other two guys, particularly Johnson. If he's not going to play here there had to be another team in need of a solid backup who is having his best season in quite a few years - and keeping him here isn't going to do Johnson any favors. He's not going to get to play much if at all, no matter how much McPhee and others may assure fans and the media that three goalies is a workable situation.
There's no question that Kolzig and Johnson will both handle this with professionalism. Neither is going to snub Huet; after all, it's not his fault he's here and that's not their way even if it was. Neither is going to pout and complain. Olie has said he would do everything he could to make Huet comfortable and Johnson made a point of saying that he would continue to be a positive presence in the locker room.
But what about the psychological impact, the confidence level? Whether the Caps were looking for a new number one goalie or not (and I don't believe they were), you have to think that both Johnson and Kolzig are feeling like the team has no confidence in them to take this team to the next level. It's something the team, the coaches and the management will have to work with down the stretch to avoid this becoming a poisonous situation.