Goldman delves further into the Mason/Garon situation in Columbus
Ken Hitchcock met with Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason together on Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after the team suffered a self-induced early implosion against the Colorado Avalanche. To summarize what the conversation entailed, Hitchcock had this choice quote for Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
“Win and you’re in,” Hitchcock said. “That’s where we’re at now. If a guy wins, he keeps on playing.” (Source)
You should know by now that I absolutely despise, nay, loathe the phrase "goalie controversy". But I can say with 100% certainty that, with this decision, Hitchcock has set things up for a downfall.
First of all, when you have two No.1 goalies (for argument's sake), why would you ever give them this message at the same time, after the original starter was pulled in the most recent game?! There are so many better times to have this conversation. I understand the validity making a change after the worst showing of the season and with the purpose of igniting Mason (and Garon) to "wake up" and show some consistency, but that's no reason for drastic measures. I would have expected better timing from a veteran head coach with a Stanley Cup ring.
How much consistency can you expect from Garon, who has only started eight games all season long? He's a rhythm goalie, and he probably would snap into rhythm if he started more than two games in a row. Oh wait…that hasn't happened yet either. Garon has played more than 100 consecutive minutes only once this season, which is more proof of what I've been saying for two years now – that Garon has been getting shafted with his minutes played. Had he started the number of games Mason has this year, you better believe the team's GAA would be much lower.
Think about this meeting from Mason's perspective. Here's a young goalie with very little confidence, dazed by the glory that came from his Calder Trophy winning rookie season. What's the underlying message he's getting from this pep talk? Does he read between the lines and take it as motivation, or does he feel it's somewhat of a punishment?
Hitchcock might as well say, "Hey Mase, you played absolutely terrible in Colorado – now you're benched. Thanks in part to your inability to make the early save, we're now in a new 'bench-the-loser' mode. Garon starts on Monday."
I think a smarter approach would have been to speak to both goalies and tell them both the same exact thing, but not until both of them just had a solid outi