by PuckStopsHere on 11/09/11 at 01:51 PM ET
In the early part of the season I picked Jaroslav Halak of the St Louis Blues as the worst player so far in the season. He was off to a poor start. He seems to be moving in the right direction with a shutout last night versus the Chicago Blackhawks. While Halak is still not off to a good start things are getting better.
My new pick for the worst player so far this season is another struggling goalie. I pick Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is posting a .869 saves percentage and a 3.70 GAA. He is struggling as the Columbus Blue Jackets struggle. The Blue Jackets are in last place in the NHL with only two wins in fourteen games. One part of the struggle is the poor goaltending that Mason has provided.
Columbus has little choice other than play Mason because of a lack of healthy proven alternatives. Mark Dekanich was the team’s expected backup. He sprained his ankle in training camp and hasn’t played yet this year. Curtis Sanford was the next backup goalie tried. He suffered a groin injury after facing three NHL shots this season. This leaves Allen York as the backup. He is a 2007 sixth round draft pick who graduated from the NCAA last season and has only six games of experience in the AHL. Thus Mason is the only logical choice to play regularly for the Blue Jackets, at least until the Blue Jackets acquire a new goalie. The injured backup goalies are likely not the solution. None of them have proven themselves as solid NHL players.
Mason was the 2009 Calder Trophy winner. Since then he has struggled to live up to expectation. This season so far is the lowest level of NHL performance he has provided so far. If things do not turn around, he may be playing himself out of the NHL. It is entirely possible that Columbus has no goalies in their system who will be NHL starting goalies beyond the short term.
Jaroslav Halak’s run as the worst player in the league is a reason that Davis Payne was fired as the St Louis Blues coach. It looks like Steve Mason’s run will lead to Scott Arniel being fired as the Columbus head coach. A starting goalie is a significant part of a hockey team and when he struggles on the level of these players, changes are made. Firing coaches is an easy change for most struggling teams to make.
Steve Mason has played very poorly so far this season. He is one significant reason why the Columbus Blue Jackets are mired in last place. I think he has been the worst player in the league so far this season.
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