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KK Members Blog

Giguere's Presence Paying Immediate Dividends

08/30/2010 at 10:42pm EDT

After enduring a devastating 5-3 comeback loss to the Vancouver Canucks on January 30th last season, Brian Burke took action by accentuating the Leafs lack of accountability within the organization. Burke wowed the hockey world by orchestrating separate trades to acquire former Calder and Norris Trophy nominee Dion Phaneuf and former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup Champion Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Burke also managed to unload the ugly contracts of Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake in exchange for former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup Champion Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Most of the talk during the fallout of the trade were focused around the acquisition of Phaneuf and the unloading of Toskala and Blake, but the addition of Giguere was perhaps the largest gain to further the betterment of the franchise. He has only been with the Leafs for a few short months, but his impact to the Maple Leafs organization has paid immediate dividends.

Giguere is coming off a disappointing season in which he began as the backup in Anaheim behind Jonas Hiller. He only began to regain his status as a bonifide starting goaltender after being reunited with Brian Burke and godly goaltending coach Francois Allaire in Toronto. Giguere posted only 4 wins, along with a bloated 3.14 goals against average and 0.900 save percentage in 20 games with the Ducks. His numbers drastically improved upon arriving in Toronto, where he managed back-to-back shutout in his first two starts with the Leafs. His 6 wins in 15 games with the blue and white wasn’t overly impressive, but showed that he is still capable of carrying a team.

J.S. is expected to start for the Leafs on opening night against the Montreal Canadiens, but will merely compete with Jonas Gustavsson throughout the season in order to secure the number one reins. The competitive nature and leadership that Giguere has brought with him outweigh his other attributes because not only can he be relied on to win games for a team, he can also help lay the foundation for future success by mentoring other goaltenders in the organization. Fully evidenced by the instrumental job he played in assisting Ilya Bryzgalov, who played in 69 games for the Phoenix Coyotes last season, posting 42 wins, along with finishing top ten in the NHL in shots against, saves, save percentage, goals-against-average, shutouts and minutes played. Bryzgalov led the Coyotes to a surprising 4th place finish in the Western Conference and finished as a nominee for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the NHL’s best goaltender. Not to mention the work Giguere did with current Duck Jonas Hiller, who at 28 years old coming off a successful 30-win season, is just entering the prime of his career.

Leafs management brought Giguere in to fufill the same responsibility. He impact has already been felt throughout the organization and will hold the Leafs goaltending in good stead for years to come. The organization is fledging their hope for Jonas Gustavsson to follow in the footsteps of Bryzgalov and Hiller by raising his game among the NHL’s elite.

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