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For Whom the Bell Tolls

Last week, I talked about how Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier made a huge mistake by re-signing defenseman Andrei Markov.  This week, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman gets the same critical treatment. 

Hindsight is always 20/20, and some would argue that it’s unfair to second guess a personnel decision this early in the season, but the horrid play of Dwayne Roloson has to make you wonder why the Lightning brought him back for what is seemingly his 37th year of pro hockey. 

Granted, Yzerman wasn’t goofy enough to sign Roloson to a multi-year deal, but the fact that he was unable to bring in a younger goaltender to backstop a club that is clearly built to win now is proving to be a colossal blunder.  Roloson has been absolutely brutal, sporting a goals against average above 5.00.  Anyone who’s watched Tampa in the early going knows that many of the 18 goals he’s allowed this year are of the shoddy variety.

Surely I’m not the only one who saw this coming.  Looking back, a very convincing argument can be made that the Lightning would’ve beaten Boston in the playoffs last year were it not for Roloson’s putrid goaltending.  He cost them Game 2, giving up six goals in two periods.  After a shoddy third game, Roloson was pulled after giving up three goals in Game 4.  After sitting out the pivotal fifth game, Roloson went on to have a pathetic Game 6.  Because his team had so much firepower, they were able to win a few of those contests despite Roloson’s poor performance. 

Many pundits point to Roloson’s heroic efforts in Game 7 as an indication that he’s still got what it takes to compete in this league on a nightly basis.  I would argue that by that point, it was too late.  Roloson had clearly lost the confidence of his team, which had dominated much of the play throughout the first six games of the series.  The Lightning were on their heels for the deciding game, and consequently, were unable to mount any kind of sustained attack, knowing full-well that they had a fragile netminder between the pipes. 

Dwayne Roloson is a terrific guy.  He’s well-liked by his teammates, and I’m sure every player in that Tampa dressing room wants to see him succeed.  But despite what they say in the press, you can’t tell me it’s not frustrating losing games 6-5 and 7-4, as the Lightning have done already this year.  Roloson has been horrible, and there’s no indication that his play is going to markedly improve as the season progresses.

Last year, when Guy Boucher elected to start Mike Smith in Game 5 against the Bruins, he said his intention was to give Dwayne Roloson a rest.  I still can’t figure out why Roloson was so tired, considering his team had almost two weeks off between Game 4 of their decisive sweep against Washington and the start of the Boston series.  It was a bad lie on Boucher’s part, as everyone knew Roloson was crumbling.  His early play this season shows even a full summer off wasn’t enough to help him re-charge his dead batteries.

At age 42, it’s clear Roloson has nothing left in the tank.  He’s had a serviceable and somewhat inspiring career, having worked his way through several stints in the minor leagues to become a full-time starter in the NHL.  But at some point, you just can’t play anymore.  Father time waits for no one.

The bell has tolled for Dwayne Roloson.

Filed in: | Tasca's Take | Permalink
  Tags: dwayne+roloson, lightning


w2j2's avatar

Yzerman knows how a goalie affects a team.
I remember how Manny Legace seemingly underperformed in a playoff series, (he certainly got blamed for the loss)  and there was no way in heck the Wings would ever sign him again. 
Yzerman was captain on of that team, and was involved in the decision making with Ken Holland.

Posted by w2j2 on 10/21/11 at 05:11 PM ET

petshark's avatar

I didn’t find it so strange that they re-signed Roloson, he gave them a boost when they needed it.  It was the choice of backup that confounded me.  As you said, why couldn’t they find a promising young goalie who could now be a legit number 1?  Sure, Roloson might have some good games left in him, but they might have been better off hanging on to Smith.  Maybe Yzerman is waiting to see if he can trade for Bob.  (I’m joking… but not really.)

Posted by petshark from Nor Cal, and on Twitter @petshark47 on 10/21/11 at 05:55 PM ET

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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.