Monday, October 10, 2011

Theodore Knows Pressure

From the by Harvey Fialkov (Harvey said this was a sneak peek, so tomorrow there might be more to this piece. If so, I'll edit.)

PITTSBURGH When you grow up in hockey-crazed Montreal and you follow legendary Patrick Roy as the No. 1 goalie for the Canadiens at 24, then following in the footsteps of Tomas Vokoun for the Florida Panthers isn’t exactly a pressure-packed task.

Still, Jose Theodore knows at 35, he has something to prove, more to himself than media or playoff-starved fans, after a so-so season for the Minnesota Wild in which he played just 32 games (15-11-3), his fewest appearances since the 1999-2000 season.

“In Montreal the only thing you talk about is the Canadiens,’’ said Theodore, the only goalie (of 22) to start his Panthers’ career with a shutout after Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Islanders.

“You have no choice to bounce back because if you make a mistake it’ll be all over the media so it pushed me to play well under pressure. … Last year was a little step back, but I’ve got to show my teammates that I still play well at 35.’’

Panthers GM Dale Tallon snatched Theodore when free agency began after Vokoun spurned their final offer, a far more lucrative deal that he ended up taking with the Capitals (one year at $1.5 million).

It seems as if the careers of Vokoun and Theodore are forever intertwined. Both were drafted by the Canadiens in 1994, Theodore in the second round and Vokoun in the ninth. Both were 21 and vying for the No. 1 job, but Canadiens GM Serge Savard chose to protect Theodore and Jocelyn Thibault in the expansion draft, thus allowing Nashville to take Vokoun in 1998.

Theodore has 261 victories to Vokoun’s 262. However, Theodore is 19-28 in the playoffs with four semifinal berths, while Vokoun is just 3-8 without ever getting out of the first round.

“I played with Theo when we were the eighth seed and upset the top-seeded Bruins and he won the Calder [MVP] and Vezina, one of three goalies in history to do so,’’ said Panthers TV analyst Billy Lindsay.

“Going into the season he’s the question mark, an area with doubts that’s not going to be solved by Theo alone. But he’s the best goalie I ever played with and I have high esteem for what [John Vanbiesbrouck] accomplished here.’’

From 2008-2010, Theodore won 30 or more games in consecutive seasons with Washington, only to be yanked early in both first rounds by Caps coach Bruce Boudreau.

“It’s a stinger and obviously I didn’t agree with his decision and still don’t,’’ Theodore said. “They didn’t win last year so it wasn’t the goalies, and now Tomas has some shoes to fill.’’

Just before his second season in Washington, Theodore had to try to win his job back after his 2-month-old son, Chace, died of respiratory complications.

“No one is prepared to deal with it, you just try to do the best you can,’’ Theodore said softly. “I took pride in my record that season, but it makes you realize that with all the sick kids in the world, that yes, you want to win every game, but still it’s a game.’’

Theodore knows pressure.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Spam comments are not approved.