Every now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I decided to throw my guess in the hat, too.
First, here is my guess for Ottawa.
Pascal Leclaire: He’s horrible and his looks make me laugh. So he’s a source of frustration and comedy.
For the Ottawa perspective, I tabbed my pal Ryan Classic. He has his own blog (irrationally titled The Classic Blog) and also is one of the great writers carrying the torch at my old blog, Cycle like the Sedins. Ryan is also quite the presence on Twitter. Oh yeah. there’s also his work at Silver Seven. Phew, that’s a lot of blogging.
Ryan Classic: As much as I want to say Alex Kovalev has been the most frustrating player, he’s come exactly as advertised. The book on Kovalev is that he’s streaky and often looks like he doesn’t care enough to put effort in, and that’s pretty much what we’ve gotten. At times he’s spectacular, scoring four goals in a game against Philadelphia in January. At other times he’s staggeringly ineffective, waiting until the last game in March to put up his first post-Olympics point. But that’s what we were told to set our expectations at, and he’s delivered.
Pascal Leclaire, meanwhile, has not.
More on the ever-frustrating Leclaire after the jump.
The Ottawa Senators have had a long history of goaltending problems, and Pascal Leclaire was sold to us as the saviour, the best goalie the team had ever had. He’d battled injuries while in Columbus, but we were told he would be healthy and ready to go to start the season. His one good season with the Blue Jackets was 2007-08, a year where he played 54 games and had 9 shutouts. The rest of his career stats were actually pretty terrible, but the media bought into the hype that the one great season was the real Pascal Leciaire. In retrospect, it was more of a red herring.
Want a rundown of how bad Leclaire’s stats are this year? He has a losing record on a team with 13 more wins than regulation losses. His goals against average is above 3.00 and his save percentage below .900. He has been pulled seven times in 29 starts. He’s been pulled four times in his last nine starts. Before his recent win against Florida, he didn’t have a win in 2010 and had a 4.05 GAA and .868 save percentage. Only twice in 2010 has he started a game and put up a save percentage above .900.
He’s been supplanted by his backup Brian Elliott, a former 9th-round pick with half a season of NHL experience. He’s been injured twice: a broken cheek from a deflected puck and a concussion after taking a shot to the head in practice, both off the stick of Mike Fisher. The Senators set a franchise record with an 11-game win streak, of which Leclaire earned no victories. A couple months later they went on a 6-game win streak, with Leclaire not seeing a single minute of action. Worst of all, when the Senators went into the tank after the Olympic break, rather than give Leclaire another chance, the fans wanted to call up AHLer Mike Brodeur and give him the reigns instead.
When large portions of your fan base would rather see a goalie who has more ECHL games under his belt than AHL games, you’ve earned yourself the title of Most Frustrating Player.