According to various sources, Buffalo Sabres goalie Patrick Lalime is primed to retire after playing 444 regular season games and earning 200 wins. Lalime also had 21 wins in 41 career playoff contests, making for a solid career considering the fact that he was a sixth round pick (156th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
Lalime began his career on fire. He set an NHL record with a 16-game unbeaten streak, going 14-0-2 to begin his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1996-97 season. That run helped him earn the top goalie spot on the All-Rookie team. Things went south for him after that, though, as he finished that season with a 21-12-2 record and was unable to earn NHL-level playing time with either the Penguins or Anaheim Ducks.
It wasn’t until he became a member of the Ottawa Senators in 1999-2000 that his career blossomed once again. Lalime went 146-100-30 and appeared in 283 regular games during that five-year span with the Senators, certainly marking the high point of his career. He became an All-Star in 2002-03 and earned 39 wins that season, the second most in the NHL.
Things fell apart once he left Ottawa, though. He had a lousy season with the St. Louis Blues, struggled but at least sustained his career during a couple seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and then finished his career with three seasons with the Sabres. The 2010-11 season gave obvious evidence to his waning relevance as an NHL backup; he went 0-5-0 in seven games played and gave way to Jhonas Enroth when the team was charging toward a playoff berth despite an injury to Ryan Miller. To many, he was basically a glorified goalie coach during the second half of the season.
Some might look at his playoff days with Ottawa as a set of letdowns (especially those who watch Jeff Friesen’s big goal against him during the 2003 Eastern Conference finals in an endless loop), but his overall postseason numbers are fantastic. His 21-20 record doesn’t do his individual output justice; his .926 save percentage and 1.77 GAA are absolutely sparkling.
If those reports of his retirement are indeed true – and it would be surprising to see him in the NHL again – then he should be remembered as an overachiever who helped Ottawa become a contender. He was one of the most well-liked goalies of his time, so chances are, if he wants to stay in the game in some capacity (as a coach or commentator) then he’ll probably find a place. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up being better than anyone expected in that role, either; overachieving seems to be what Lalime is best at.