Suicide Kings

Justin Goldman




Is there a team more desperate for competent goaltending other than the Los Angeles Kings? Is there a worse situation for future star Ondrej Pavelec than what he’s going through in Atlanta? Has there ever been another Stanley Cup winning goalie that has been forced to deal with waivers besides Nikolai Khabibulin? Is there really a goalie controversy in Ottawa after just two measly games?


The season is only three days old and there’s already a ton of issues surrounding NHL goaltenders. For many teams, it’s a situation that leaves GM’s and their goalies feeling like they were dealt a pair of suicide kings in a crazy game of poker. What seems like a great winning hand at first quickly become an ominous sign of the future. All of a sudden, you’re all in – and all out of money.

Let’s start with a closer look at the hand the Los Angeles Kings are currently holding. Bullets of sweat are dripping from the organization’s collective forehead as they try looking confident as they bluff with Jason LaBarbera and Erik Ersberg in goal. Be assured that no matter how good GM Dean Lombardi makes this hand look to the other teams, the Kings will once again be in the Western Conference cellar if they stick with the young tandem.

LaBarbera’s game is still a mess – his positioning and lateral movement needs a ton of work. On top of that mountain to climb, he just doesn’t possess the kind of quickness or agility that top NHL goalies possess. Ersberg has no real experience as a starter and although he has plenty of potential, there’s no point in throwing him into a situation where he will struggle thanks to a lack of defensive support. If he was playing in Detroit or Montreal, that’s one thing, but one of the worst defensive teams in the league is quite another.

What evil did Atlanta GM Don Waddell pull on Ondrej Pavelec that made the future superstar make such a drastic decision as to not report to the Chicago Wolves’ training camp? Oh, that’s right, he guaranteed Pavelec an opportunity in a market that has no real guarantee. Now Ondrej feels pushed aside and unworthy, and for good reason. If there was a guarantee and it was not fulfilled, that is means for Pavelec’s outrage. But what the netminder fails to realize is that it won’t get him any closer to being a starter in the NHL. What GM would want a goalie that is already being tagged as a Ray Emery clone? With this crazy poker hand dealt his way, Pavelec needs to suck it up and part with his ante by folding…and fast. It’s th