Suffice to say, this was not a good year between the pipes in Carolina.
Cam Ward and Eddie Lack combined to post the NHL’s fourth-worst combined save percentage. Lack missed extensive time with concussion problems — forcing the 33-year-old Ward into a heavy workload — and upon returning, the lanky Swede was lambasted by head coach Bill Peters in a now-infamous rant.
Today, the ‘Canes made the first in what could be a series of moves to improve their goaltending.
GM Ron Francis announced the team was cutting ties with goalie coach David Marcoux. Marcoux had been with the club for the past three seasons, having joined the Carolina organization after a six-year stint in Calgary.
There have been rumblings that Lack and Marcoux never gelled, something that was emphasized when Lack spoke to The Province last season.
“It’s been an adjustment,” Lack explained. “At times, it’s been really hard. Sometimes I catch myself in games looking down to see where I am in the crease because I have no idea where I am.”
Changes in Carolina sound like they’ll go beyond the Marcoux dismissal, however.
Both Lack and Ward are heading into the final years of their respective contracts. Ward will earn $3.3 million, Lack $2.75M, and both are eligible to be exposed in the upcoming expansion draft.
Francis said the tandem didn’t work out this season, in large part because Lack’s injury issue forced the club to “lean extremely heavily” on Ward — too much, Francis said.
The GM also didn’t sound very enthusiastic about Carolina’s prospect pool. He said the club has “throw a lot of darts at the board over the last few years,” to try and find a good young goalie, but the results have been negligible. Francis added he couldn’t honestly say if they have a future No. 1 in the organization.
Luckily for the ‘Canes, this is a good summer to be goalie shopping. The UFA market could feature the likes of Ben Bishop, Ryan Miller, Brian Elliott, Steve Mason, Jonathan Bernier and Scott Darling.
Francis said the club will be in a good financial position to add players this offseason, through trades or free agency. As such, he may be given the green light to snag a goalie and deal with the ramifications later — under this scenario, he’d have until early October to figure out a potential three-headed goalie monster.