Saturday, October 16, 2010

Leclaire has made himself expendable

It's hard to imagine a scenario where the Ottawa Senators would consider re-signing Pascal Leclaire at the end of this season. It seemed the gods conspired to make our oft-injured netminder a footnote in the Sens (not exceptional) goaltending records.

I found myself aggressively agreeing with Don Brennan's column from Friday's Ottawa Sun (and it pains me to type that). Despite his stellar play so far this season, Leclaire just can't be trusted to be the Senators' number one goalie. It seems that if the Sens invested any faith in Leclaire, he would simply throw it away with another momentum-draining injury.

I'm not one to throw away goaltenders quickly. I still think Patrick Lalime doesn't get the credit he deserves for his time in Ottawa, and I'm still waiting for someone to tell me in simple language why Ray Emery was sent away, but Leclaire has been given a dozen opportunities in the past season (and three weeks) to play constantly and consistently and he's never taken full advantage.

I'm also not one to jump on a bandwagon for promoting a rookie goalie and betting the Senators' season on an unproven commodity; Robin Lehner is 19 years old and Mike Brodeur has three big-league wins.

I've stated before that this Sens' success this season depends on Brian Elliott. I just didn't think I would be so right, so soon. In that article, I said that Elliott would start between 25 and 40 games this season. With Leclaire officially continuing his injury strike, I think I'm going to bump that up to 40 or more.

So I think it's time to formalize what the universe already seems to have planned. Name Elliott the default starter for the remainder of the season, make Leclaire sit on the bench (with his freaking mask ON this time) and give the Senators the stability that the name I wanted to nickname "The Answer" is, unfortunately, unable to provide.
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