Jean-Sebastian Giguere Doing Everything to Save His Job Except Playing Well

S BCorrespondent INovember 11, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Jean-Sebastien Giguere #35 of the Anaheim Ducks defends against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Honda Center on October 24, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is upset about suddenly finding himself in a polygamous goalie situation, with he and Jonas Hiller competing for the starting job.

Giguere told the LA Daily News , "I'd rather retire than be a back-up goalie ."

The issue is the remaining $13 million on the final two years of his contract coupled with the emergence of Hiller as a starter.

The wild cards in the equation? Hiller is a free agent after this season and Giguere has a no-trade clause.

Giguere is playing a very sophisticated game. The Ducks know they can't afford two goalies. It's to their advantage to let Hiller and Giguere duke it out. If Giguere wins, they can let Hiller go in the offseason. If Hiller wins, they can trade Giguere and his mammoth salary, getting a nice short-term rental to help them in the playoffs. Perhaps that shut-down defenseman they lost when they traded away Chris Pronger.

By demanding the starting job, Giguere is trying to force Anaheim's hand a bit earlier. If the Ducks buckle, he'll get a solid shot to keep his job. If they don't give in, he might actually retire, and the Ducks lose him for nothing.

But would Giguere retire? Probably not, especially knowing he could start on any number of NHL clubs. Giguere knows if he wants to stay in Anaheim, this is probably his last and best chance to win back the starting job.

Giguere has always been a charmed goalie. The first-round pick of Hartford (13th overall) in 1995, he wound up being traded from Calgary to Anaheim in the summer of 2000 with Anaheim recognizing Giguere was ready to be an NHL-quality starter. And the Ducks were correct as Giguere eventually pushed Anaheim goalie Guy Hebert out of his starting spot.

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So Giguere might be more aware than most just how easy it is for a young, hot goalie to push out an established veteran. And Giguere isn't being unduly paranoid about his lack of job security. Hiller has been great for Anaheim, with a .919 save percentage and a 2.76 goals against average. And in 46 games last season, Hiller put up a 2.39 goals against and .919 save percentage. Giguere's numbers have been nowhere near as strong. In fact, they've been downright bloated.

Giguere's back is against the wall and he correctly sees that he's on the fast track to a back-up role. By announcing his dissatisfaction, he's trying to buy a few starts to prove he's still a top NHL goaltender. Since Anaheim probably would love to trade him, assuming he'll waive his no-trade, they might be open to spotlighting him for other teams. Giguere is probably hoping it won't come to that.

Goaltending is a tough job. They succeed and fail in a horribly public way. Giguere can't be blamed for trying to hold onto his starting role, but at this point, it seems like he's playing a very long shot. Plus, it's never a good sign when a goalie finds himself playing management and the media more than he's actually playing the puck.


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