The Clay Man

Justin Goldman


 Andrew Raycroft


The History
   Once upon a time, Andrew Raycroft was chosen over Vesa Toskala to start against the Ottawa Senators on Opening Night, thanks to a weak decision by Paul Maurice. Things didn’t go as planned, the Leafs were shut out 4-0 at home and the season’s dismal start was etched in history forever.
   Just two measly wins all year long and no hope for a better tomorrow, Raycroft was left to wallow in his many blunders. That was until Toronto bought him out and along came Colorado, licking their chops and feasting their eyes on Raycroft, ready to do what they do best – give goalies another chance. As it was with Patrick Roy and Jose Theodore, is now with Raycroft, and ever shall be, forever and ever.


The Process
   Yet under the surface of every questionable acquisition in goal these days, you’ll find that it all boils down to potential. In Raycroft’s case, Colorado sees a ton of it, sitting there like a mound of clay. The horrible season, the downward spiral of focus in games and the inability to make the easy save; none of that outweighed the potential of what could become. The move was not just a testament of faith, nor was it born out of desperation. It was a chance to create a winner by molding a piece of clay.

   For you see, the answer lies in Colorado’s goalie coach, Jeff Hackett, and his incredible work ethic. That’s exactly what Theodore lacked when he came to Colorado two seasons ago. Not anymore. Not after working with Hackett. For Raycroft, he picks up a much-needed catalyst, a reason for competing at the highest level once again. He gets that in Hackett, who was a former teammate at some point early on in both Theodore and Raycroft’s careers, with the Canadiens and Bruins respectively.

   I’m not saying that lightning will strike twice and Raycroft is automatically destined to become the same player he was when he won the Calder, but hey, Hackett did it with Theodore, why he can’t do it with Raycroft? In fact, Hackett probably has MORE to work with, as Theodore was, in my opinion, much more competitive when he came to Colorado than Raycroft is right now. Raycroft doesn’t lack talent, he lacks confidence. There are probably a few small things in Raycroft’s game that will be worked out, making him consistent, confident and a potential leader once again.

The Analysis
   So for $800,000 Raycroft looks more like a piece of clay than a big useless gold statue (which many Toronto fans would say fits the description perfectly). The bo