Over the past 20 years of Senators hockey, the most maligned area of the franchise has been the masked men between the pipes. To date, a total of 28 different goalies have donned the Senators jersey for at least one game. The early years saw a revolving door of castaways and second rate goalies such as Peter Sidorkiewicz, Don Beaupre and Craig Billington.
TUGGER AND DUSTY
Then came the Ron Tugnutt/Damian Rhodes era (1995-2000). The duo essentially flip flopped roles often and were 1 and 1A at any given time. Neither really established himself as the true number one, but in the Jacques Martin-coached era it worked. The pairing led the Senators to the playoff for the first time (1996) and started the string of 11 straight playoff apperances for the team.
While they made the playoffs and won a round in 1997, they couldn’t carry the Senators over the hump. That is why the Senators went out and traded Tugnutt and defenseman Janne Laukkanen to the Penguins for two time Stanley Cup champion Tom Barrasso at the trade deadline in 2000. Alas, the first “big name” goalie in Senators history was a flop, as the team was knocked out of the playoffs in 6 games by the rival Maple Leafs in the first round and Barrasso moved on.
MARVIN THE MARTIAN (aka Patrick Lalime)
After playing the 1999-2000 season as the backup to Tugnutt and then Barrasso, 2001 was the promotion of one of the most polarizing netminders in Sens history. Patrick Lalime inherited the starting job, and for about 4 seasons was either the best thing about the team or the worst. I remember listening to sports talk radio one week and this city was outraged when The Hockey News released a ranking of the goaltenders in the league and Lalime wasn’t in the top 5. He was charismatic, and could play the game. He also had some of the best lineups Ottawa had ever seen playing in front of him, as Daniel Alfredsson was approaching his prime and Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat were piling up points. After an inauspicious playoff debut (getting swept by the Leafs), Lalime helped the team win 3 playoff series over the next 3 years, getting to the first Conference Final in club history. Then a pair of nearly identical third period Joe Nieuwendyk goals in game 7 of the 2004 first round had a lynch mob after him and Lalime was unceremoniously dealt to St. Louis following the 2004 season. With 146 wins as a Senator, Lalime still has more than double the wins of any other Sens goalie.
THE DOMINATOR AND THE ADDUCTOR
After dispatching Lalime, Sens GM John Muckler made shockwaves around the league by signing Free Agent goalie Dominik Hasek to a one year contract. The six time Vezina Trophy winner and 2001 time Stanley Cup Champion brought credibility to the team. Although known for his quirkiness, and recent injury trouble, he was still a dominant goalie even at 39 years of age. However, the 2004-05 lockout cast a shadow over his signing and he didn’t suit up until the 2005-06 season. Even at 40, Hasek was dominant for the Senators, who had Spezza, Alfredsson and Heatley lighting it up, and the Senators were making waves and seemingly Stanley Cup Contenders. Then the Torino Olympics came and instead of resting his aging body for the anticipated Stanley Cup Playoff grind, Hasek answered the call for his home country Czech Republic team. Nine minutes into his Olympic quest, Hasek left the Olympics with a strained adductor muscle. Despite practicing and looking healthy, and despite pleas from teammates to try to play in the playoffs, Hasek wouldn’t suit up for another game as a Senator. He went back to Detroit and won another Stanley Cup in 2008.
CHECK BACK LATER FOR PART 2 FEATURING THE RECENT MEMORY OF SENATORS GOALENDING