A Brief History of Goalie Controversies

Not pictured: Former third-string goaltender Anton Volchenkov

As is the near-annual tradition in the city of Ottawa and its surrounding suburbs, the Senators are headed for a goalie controversy.

It's nearly impossible to go a single season in Ottawa without some sort of goalie controversy. Listen to any call-in show and you are guaranteed to hear demands that goalie X be supplanted by goalie Y. And after a strong week by currently-a-backup Robin Lehner, we're on target for yet another goalie controversy. And so, we present a brief history of Ottawa Senators goalie controversies. Let's relive history, shall we?

Season Controversy Description
1992-93 None Peter Sidorkiewicz plays 64 of 84 games, makes the All-Star team for some reason.
1993-94 None Craig Billington plays 63 of 84 games even though Darrin Madeley's statistics are better (4.36 GAA, .868 SV%).
1994-95 None Don Beaupre comes in and becomes the starter because Craig Billington was terrible. Billington is eventually jettisoned at the trade deadline.
1995-96 None The genesis of the controversy era begins here when Don Beaupre is traded to Toronto for Damian Rhodes, who cries (presumably in joy) at the news.
1996-97 Tugnutt v. Rhodes: Round 1 Newcomer Ron Tugnutt defeats Mike Bales for backup job, then takes on Damian Rhodes. Tugnutt plays fewer regular season games, then ends up the playoff starter. So begins the era of Tugnutt v. Rhodes.
1997-98 Tugnutt v. Rhodes: Round 2 Damian Rhodes ends up the season's playoff starter and wins the team's first ever playoff series. As a reward, Ron Tugnutt starts the following round against Washington because he had a better regular season record. He is terrible and by game 3 Rhodes is starting again.
1998-99 Tugnutt v. Rhodes: Round 3 Ron Tugnutt puts up team record statistics, still plays slightly fewer games than Rhodes. Coach Jacques Martin, ever torn between his two goalies, gives each two games in the playoffs, none of which are wins.
1999-00 Tugnutt v. Lalime Newcomer Patrick Lalime comes in and puts Ron Tugnutt in an unfamiliar position of sharing time in the crease. Tugnutt plays more games, but is traded for Tom Barrasso . Barrasso, famously, shared duties with his posts.
2000-01 Lalime v. Hurme: Round 1 Definitive starting goaltender Patrick Lalime struggles briefly, opening the door for Jani Hurme to play better for a small stretch. Radio call-in show listeners express a lack of trust in Lalime.
2001-02 Lalime v. Hurme: Round 2 See 2000-01. Lalime silences his critics for about a week (not an exaggeration) when he allows two goals in his first six playoff games.
2002-03 Lalime v. Prusek: Round 1 Martin Prusek is hailed as the potential second coming of Dominik Hasek (seriously). A brief period where Lalime struggles gives Prusek an opportunity to win a few games in a row and disrupt the balance. Prusek's 12-2-1 record helps his cause.
2003-04 Lalime v. Prusek: Round 2 Dominik-Hasek-in-waiting Martin Prusek goes 16-6-3 compared to Lalime's 25-23-7. Is he the better goaltender? Fans think yes. Meanwhile, a young Ray Emery lies in waiting in the AHL.
2005-06 None Patrick Lalime is traded. Dominik Hasek 2.0 is replaced with Dominik Hasek, the new uncontested starter. During the Olympics, Hasek is injured and quits on the team. Ray Emery comes in and becomes the newer uncontested starter.
2006-07 Gerber v. Emery: Round 1 Despite leading them to the second round, the Senators show no faith in Ray Emery and sign Martin Gerber during the offseason. Emery outplays Gerber and leads the team to the Stanley Cup Final.
2007-08 Gerber v. Emery: Round 2 Martin Gerber quietly demands a trade after Ray Emery takes his job the previous season, leading to the famous plain black mask. Emery starts the season injured, allowing Gerber to dominate and transition to Darth Gerber. After leading the team to the Stanley Cup Final, Emery is given some rope upon return, leaving fans to wonder who should carry the team going forward. Gerber starts in the playoffs. Meanwhile, a young Brian Elliot lies in waiting in the AHL.
2008-09 Gerber v. Auld v. Elliott Ray Emery is exiled to Russia, where he plays one season for Atlant Mytishchi. Martin Gerber enters the season as the starter and plays so poorly he is sent down to the AHL. Backup Alex Auld fights for the starter role with rookie Brian Elliott, who ends the season with the only winning record on the team. Gerber is hilariously picked up off waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs. With no faith in either remaining goaltender, the Senators trade for Pascal Leclaire. Auld is not re-signed.
2009-10 Leclaire v. Elliott v. Brodeur: Round 1 Pascal Leclaire struggles with injuries and poor play, allowing Brian Elliott to take his job. Elliott is part of an 11-game win streak, although two wins are accumulated by AHL veteran Mike Brodeur. Brodeur's 3-0 record with a 1.00 GAA and .966 SV% leads Don Cherry to demand Brodeur be named the starting goaltender. Many fans agree. Elliott struggles in the playoffs, leaving the door open for Pascal Leclaire to play his best hockey as a Senator. Meanwhile in Russia, Atlant Mytischi replaces Ray Emery with Martin Gerber.
2010-11 Leclaire v. Elliott v. Brodeur: Round 2 Pascal Leclaire begins the season strongly as the starter before predictably falling apart, playing his last NHL game in mid-December. Brian Elliott struggles to replicate past successes, leading fans to demand Mike Brodeur return to the NHL. He does, and does not last long before the previous season was revealed as a fluke. Elliott is traded for Craig Anderson. Meanwhile, a young Robin Lehner lies waiting in the AHL.
2011-12 None Alex Auld returns before being replaced by Ben Bishop, but Craig Anderson is the starting goaltender from season beginning to season end. Has an excellent playoff run despite it lasting only one round.
2012-13 Anderson v. Bishop v. Lehner Craig Anderson's status as the number one goalie on the team is controversial at first, although not contested after his strong start. Anderson's injury leads to the second controversy of the season: who should start in his place. Ultimately it was a tie between Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner. The third controversy lay in who, if any of the three, should be traded. It ended up being Bishop.
2013-14 Anderson v. Lehner An average start of the season for Craig Anderson gives Robin Lehner an opportunity to show his skills. Lehner puts up back-to-back 40+ save performances, yet doesn't win. Anderson sustains an injury, allowing Lehner to come in and be even more dominant. Anderson returns healthy, and the controversy begins anew.

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