Friday, December 18, 2009

The Spotlight to Shine on Quebec Goaltenders in 2010

This article was first published in the December 18th edition of Main Street Week, page 6, and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

The Spotlight to Shine on Quebec Goaltenders in 2010

As the countdown for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver continues the debate rages on as to who will represent Canada on the men's hockey team. On television, radio, newspapers and in the local coffee shops across our great nation, everyone has a different opinion as to who should make the team. While several players have already guaranteed themselves a roster spot, due to their history representing Canada or their strong play in the National Hockey League this season, there are several positions still open to debate.

Detroit Red Wings General Manager and Team Canada Assistant, Ken Holland, stated in a recent radio interview, his list has changed every ten days. With the official announcement coming from Steve Yzerman, Kevin Lowe, Doug Armstrong and Holland at the end of December, one thing is certain, Quebec will be well represented in the goaltending position - all three goalies could come from La Belle Province.

At the top of almost every list is Montreal, Quebec native and New Jersey Devil, Martin Brodeur. A gold medal winner at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, Brodeur brings a veteran presence to the team and a resume that includes almost every goaltending record in the NHL. After missing most of last season due to an elbow injury, many wondered how Brodeur would fare this season with the pressure of the Olympics on the horizon. Not expected to compete for the top spot in the Eastern Conference or the Stanley Cup this season, thanks to Brodeur, the Devils find themselves in the hunt for the top spot in their division, conference and the league. The three-time Stanley Cup Champion and four-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s best goaltender has a 20-8-1 win/loss record this season with a 2.14 goals against average and .920 save percentage.

Another name on everyone’s wish list and a sentimental favourite because the Olympics are in Vancouver, is Canucks net minder and another Montreal native, Roberto Luongo. His reputation as one of the best goaltenders in the world is well earned and he has represented Canada at the junior level and at the World Championships. While the Canucks have struggled this season, Luongo's numbers are as impressive as ever. His win/loss record is 14-10-0 with a 2.45 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. He will see some action at the Olympics but do not be surprised to see the Team Canada coaching staff name Brodeur their number one goaltender when the medal rounds begin.

The third goaltender on the depth chart is open to some debate but it will almost certainly be Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender and Sorel, Quebec native Marc-Andre Fleury. At 25-years of age, Fleury is already a Stanley Cup Champion and a two-time silver medal winner with Canada’s Junior team in 2003 and 2004. With two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in his young career, Fleury can handle the pressures of International play but this trip to the Olympics will be a learning experience, preparing him for the job of number one goaltender for Team Canada at future tournaments. His numbers with Pittsburgh this season are impressive as always; 18-8-1 win/loss record with a 2.44 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.

With 2009 coming to a close and 2010 right around the corner, I would like to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It has been an exciting year at The Voice of Sport, especially with the launch of Main Street Week in April and more great sports news is on the way. Look for more interviews in the New Year and starting January 4th, I am pleased to be joining Team Sports on Sirius channel 98 as a regular contributor - drop by my website for details. Have a great sports day everyone and a safe and happy holiday.

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