Monster’s Second Chance


    "Find Your Inner Monster"

    Given the limited amount of hockey articles lately I’ve decided to write one. So,  no Mashup today, but hopefully you’ll like the article more than the links.

    Born on October 24th, 1984. Jonas Gustavsson stands at 6-3 (191 cm) and weighs 192 lb (87kg). Dimensions of a monster, sure. But has he played like one? Well no, not yet.

    How can that be when the monster was clearly advertised as, well, a monster of a goalie that averaged a .932 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average during the 08-09 regular season with Färjestads BK, plus having an otherworldly playoff run with a GAA of 1.03 with a SV% of .961, 5 shutouts in 13 games for that club. Sure enough, but what became painfully clear is that the NHL is a different animal, one with a very short temper when it comes to mistakes and adjustment periods. Heart problems aside, winning is everything.

    Yes, winning might be the most important thing in sports, but when a learning curve is harshly interrupted by personal problems I wouldn’t wish on any soul, let alone a talented, ultra competitive goalie I think he deserves a chance to prove he is/isn’t an NHL caliber goalie before we start labeling him a failure. People talk about the highly impressive character traits of James Reimer. Count me into that group. Reimer is probably the future of the franchise, most experts agree. Guys at THN recently wrote:

    “I know it’s not the most tangible thing in the world, but I really like Reimer’s attitude. He’s focused, hard-working and, though he’s not the most extroverted guy, very competitive. I think his even manner gives him a great shot at handling the Toronto glare.”

    Indeed. However, if we put Gustavsson and character in the same sentence, we have to remember that we’re talking about a guy who endured three heart surgeries and a family tragedy in a span of two years and seemingly handled the whole situation much better than many of us (including me) would. Upon his arrival in Toronto he outplayed Toskala and took the starting job. So, it’s Toskala you say. But listen, here we had a guy who was in his 7th NHL season, 3rd in Toronto. He knew the city, language and teammates etc.

    I think character is the secondary topic when it comes to our goaltending tandem, because as pointed out above, neither one of the two is lacking in that department. The thing to look at is development. Sure, Gustavsson is 26, 3 years older than Reimer, but we still have to remember that this was only his third NHL season. His heart problems might have shown us his character but they also stalled his development to a point of him having to prove himself in the AHL. There, he played some good hockey but his rebound control is still questionable to say the least as is his composure after letting in a bad goal. Confidence wise, I do think it delivered a mighty blow.

    Because winning is what it is, and because Reimer already proved how good he can be for this team any further chance Gustavsson gets will likely be put under an even bigger microscope. But I also think he doesn’t have a problem with that, as long as he gets that second chance. In the end, most of us deserve them.