After Monday night’s comeback win, I think the case for Niemi is stronger, and has more backing from the fans, than ever before.
I have attended each of the first two home games this year, and the reaction to Cristobal Huet during player introductions has been mixed at best. He’s earning less than a mixed reaction.
Huet’s top shelf is so wide open it’s painful. He would have the worst glove in Chicago if the Cubs could trade Alfonso Soriano, and he drops to his knees faster than an intern in Bill Clinton’s White House. There are so many holes in Huet’s game you’d think he was Swiss, not French.
But then again, with Huet being French, it’s too easy to refer to his five hole as the “Arc de Failure.”
Niemi might not be the long-term answer, but he’s certainly better than what Huet’s doing for the team right now. He shut out a Florida team that got pretty much whatever it wanted just the day before against Huet in Helsinki, and then was more than adequate after a rough first few moments in the Blackhawks' stunning 6-5 victory on Monday.
Huet allowed three goals on five shots Monday. After the first two, less than five minutes into a crucial early season game against a playoff competitor, coach Joel Quenneville even burned the team’s only timeout to slow Calgary’s momentum. Less than a minute later, the puck was in the net behind Huet, and Quenneville was making the switch.
After the game, Quenneville was (obviously) asked about the goalie situation moving forward. His answers to the questions were as telling as the final score was; there was zero commitment to Huet moving forward.
Indeed, there have been whispers from the Blackhawks' organization that the early season boos are taking a toll on an apparently fragile Huet’s self-esteem.
Good. I hope his inner child is looking for a second box of Kleenex. It’s time for Niemi to be the Hawks' primary goalie until Huet can cowboy-up and play like his $5.6 million salary would indicate he’s able. This team is too good to wait any longer for decent goaltending.