Tuesday, December 13, 2005

From the penthouse, to the doghouse, to the outhouse!

It’s been a rather long road for Patrick Lalime and with Tuesday’s demotion to the AHL, its a road that now leads out of the NHL for the time being.

Lalime was released yesterday by the Blues and put on waivers, with a salary at over 2 million dollars there wasn’t much in the way of interest and now he finds himself waived out of the league and onto the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL.

Lalime was the starting goaltender for the Ottawa Senators the last time they played in a playoff game, as he and his Sens bowed out to the New Jersey Devils. It would be his final appearance in a Sens uniform, as the house cleaning in Ottawa began under John Muckler in the off season before the strike. As history records, Domenic Hasek eventually would be the man between the pipes in Ottawa and Lalime was off to St. Louis.

His arrival in the city with the arch, has coincided with a free fall of the Blues franchise which continues on unchecked and resembles a train wreck happening in slow motion. With the owners hoping to unload the team soon, the aura of success is hard to come by in St. Louis these days, Lalime got caught up in all of that and had a very rough start in the St. Louis net.

Playing behind the league’s worst team, Lalime has acquired the leagues worst record with 3 wins, 11 losses and four ties prior to his departure from the NHL. His Goals Against is a rather high 3.97, which is part testimony to the disorganization of the Blues defence and his poor play through the early season.

His last game for St. Louis came Saturday night, when he gave up a horrible goal late in the game, giving the Rangers a 5-4 victory. Blues coach Mike Kitchen, felt that not only was the last goal a bad one, but the three previous to it were rather soft as well. Deciding that Lalimes work ethic had cost the team a win Kitchen decided it should also cost him his job.

Curtis Sanford will take over the duties in the St. Louis net, untested but financially frugal; he will carry the load while the Blues sort out their immediate future. Sanford takes home a salary of about 500,000 dollars a year, quite a bit less than Lalimes. A cynic might observe that the departure of Lalime may have had more to do with a salary dump, than a position improvement. That 2.4 million however, may be more of an anchor on him in the short haul as each NHL team tries to figure out its place in the world of the salary cap. Though Kitchen and GM Larry Pleau, insist that it was purely a hockey decision to be made to try and wake his team up and take care of a problem position.

Lalime is hoping to stay positive, refusing to comment on the troubles of St Louis, instead he plans on reporting to the minors and working his way back up to the NHL. It’s a safe bet he may yet get another shot at NHL glory; after all it wasn’t too long ago that he was only a few short games away from the Stanley Cup finals. It’s going to take a bit of time no doubt, but he’s hoping to get back into a spot where that can happen one more time.

As for Sanford, the new era of goaltending in St. Louis got off to a pretty good start as the new number one faced 20 shots and backstopped his team to a 3 -0 shutout over the Pittsburgh Penguins, making Sanford a favoured Son for one night anyways !

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