Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Insert Legace/y Pun Here

I needed something to cheer me up, after trade deadline day dragged me through the ringer. I whined a little over Marty Biron, I yelled a little over Todd Bertuzzi (...seriously WHAT?), I giggled a bit over Ty Conklin, I held my tongue over Yanic Perrault and figured I'd wait to see how that panned out. And then they dropped the Ryan Smyth bomb and my day went to hell. It's already been mentioned here, so I'll refrain from going on about it (and I already did at my own blog anyway), but after the daze I wandered around in all afternoon after hearing it, something had to be done to make today better.

And then I noticed the weekly question and realized hey, an excuse to ramble on about my goalie! And what better way to make life suck less. So bear with me while I go on about about something that probably could have been summed up in a quick sentence - I think I need it right now.

So anyway, a player I cheer for even when he's playing my team? Easy. Manny Legace.

Manny was with the Wings from 1999-2006. He was relegated to backup behind CuJo, Hasek, pretty much anyone you could imagine, and yet he stayed there, he took it, and he kept on trying. And then, last year, the guy finally got a break. Along with Chris Osgood he led the team through a ridiculous season in which he ended up 37-8-3. Every time the Wings were mentioned you heard his name - I can't even remember how many dumb "Legace" puns were made (and I still don't understand "October may be over but Manny Legace is a month you never forget"). He was the hero of Hockeytown. He and Martin Brodeur were the only goalies to place in the top ten of every goaltending stat category.

And then we hit the playoffs. And the Edmonton Oilers tossed us on our asses in round one, Manny opened his mouth and (with some admittedly horrible timing) said something to the extent of knowing he was done for because he lost the playoffs for us, followed by "I feel like going out and hanging myself." Maybe not the best attitude - but can you blame him? He knew the fans would demand something be fixed, and he knew goaltending was the easiest thing to change to appease them. And it was.

Ken Holland opted to dump him that summer, and no one wanted him. He was criticized right and left for the way he played the playoffs last year, told he only came up with the record he had because of the Wings amazingly proficient defense, informed yet again that he was too short, not fast enough, hardly an athlete. And he hung on and waited a worrisome amount of time before finally getting an offer from the last place St. Louis Blues. I cried. I couldn't believe Manny, my Manny, was going to a team that was the polar opposite of where he'd come from. Where he'd get stomped on and crushed and never be able to prove that he wasn't what everyone said.

And it started out that way - until the coaching change, and until Manny got nailed in the head. Now, he's got five shutouts on the season, his record has been near impeccable lately, and he just resigned a deal with the Blues for two years. And the most important part is that he's happy. He has the chance to help turn this franchise around, to become one of their cornerstone players and more importantly, to show everyone that he is very much the goalie he proved he could be last year.

He's faced so much adversity - this article does a great job showing exactly why I love him so much. So yeah, I cheer for Manny, I cheer for him to beat us especially. Call me spiteful, but every single time Manny stops a puck a Red Wing shoots in my brain it is a specific message to Ken Holland - I told you so. When it was the Blues who ended our 176 game shutout streak I coudln't do anything but be happy for Manny.

At least one player I love is staying where he (now) belongs and with someone who deserves him - and I'll still be cheering for him against the Wings every time. I am so sorry I rambled so much - but hey, I do feel a little less awful!

1 comment:

Brit said...

Don't forget Kipper! He was in the top 10 for all goalie stats last year. He's my favorite player not on the Lightning. :)