All summer long I touted Mathieu Garon as the “surprise goalie of the year” because I truly felt he had all the elusive pieces in place. He not only has great positioning and the flexibility of a jellyfish, but he also got a big boost of confidence thanks to last year’s strong finish. Touted as the starter after training camp, it really was a picture-perfect setting for Garon to take charge as Edmonton’s go-to guy.
Three games into the season and three straight wins – the puzzle was complete, right? Not so much. Things went south in a slow and torturous manner, as Garon struggled to a 6-8-0 record and 3.17 goals against average. Sure enough, Garon was a fallen victim of the dreaded three-headed goalie monster. No team ever benefits from having three goalies in the lineup, so it was just a matter of when…and who.
It took a bunch of sputtering streaks by Dwayne Roloson and Jeff Deslauriers for the goalie situation to reach the point where it was totally out of control. It was so absurd that Deslauriers was finally sent down to the minors on a two-week conditioning stint and Garon was ultimately traded, just one day after he made 37 saves in a 3-2 win over the Avalanche on Friday.
Wait…you mean to tell me that Deslauriers just returned from a conditioning assignment, Roloson allowed five goals on 22 shots in a loss to the Wild, Garon puts up a huge win with 37 saves against Colorado and Garon is the one getting traded? That has to make you wonder just what really went wrong.
Part of me says Edmonton’s coaching staff brutally mismanaged Garon’s role in the rotation. Part of me blames Garon for lacking the focus needed to compete this season and for losing out in the work ethic department to Dwayne Roloson. And the last part of me says that none of it really matters anymore because another trade was exactly what Garon needed.
But honestly, how can you expect consistent goaltending on a team where one of three goalies doesn’t even get a net for a full practice? A hard workout in practice is one of the most important aspects of a goalie’s rhythm and development, so removing that from a goalie’s routine is not a good idea. Working with a goalie coach every day is a necessary part of the daily grind – without it a goalie will struggle.
You also have to look at the fact that Garon didn’t get an opportunity to play more than a few games in a row. Even after he strung together three straight wins in the team’s first four games, Garon only started consecutive games two more times, in late-October and then early-December. Garon only played two games in all of November, one in which he was pulled and the other coming in relief for Roloson.
So regardless of how good or bad Garon played, it seemed like the Oilers couldn’t say no to Roloson. Both goalies were heading into the final season of their contract, which could actually be seen as a major motivational factor for both goalies (see Jose Theodore). But does their age play a role in the trade?