Jimmy Howard: Hang Up The Boxing Gloves

It is tough to be critical of netminder Jimmy Howard these days. The 27 year old is near or at the top of almost every goalie statistic including a league leading 30 wins through the first half of the NHL season. Beyond the numbers, Howard has been superb. He’s made big save after big save when needed, often at crucial points in the game.

But I will challenge the old adage of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”  today and do just that. Although the fans love it, Jimmy Howard needs to cool it with the tough guy antics he’s displayed over the past few seasons.

I believe it all started with a late game scrum in March of 2010. After Penguins Center (crier) Sidney Crosby attacked Henrik Zetterberg in the final seconds of a 3-1 Wings victory, Howard jumped to his teammates aid, throwing Crosby in a headlock and earning praise from the Hockeytown masses.

As you can see from the video, Bertuzzi was right there to protect Zetterberg. But I get it, a heated rival, the play right in front of him. Howard made a decsion and gave the Penguins Captain a facewash for the ages.

Since then, I feel like Jimmy is looking to do this every game. We’ve see it in Vancouver:

And San Jose

And St. Louis

And now St. Louis again

I’m probably alone here. I realize in all these clips he’s either sprayed, or bumped or whatever. But Howard’s job is to stop the puck. As he continues to act like this, teams will realize they can get under his skin and will crash the net agressively.

The scary thing is that we have seen this story before. Ron Hextall broke onto the NHL scene in 1987 winning the Calder (Rookie of the year), Vezina (NHLs best goalie) and Conn Smythe (MVP of playoffs) Trophies despite losing to the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals in 7 games. Hextall was known throughout the league for his revolutionary puck handling ability, as well as his short temper.

As teams learned how to rattle the young goaltender, he got further and futher away from the form that made him an All Star talent upon entering the league. Canadiens coach Jaques Demers famously remarked after beating the Flyers out of the playoffs, “he didn’t reach the level of a Grant Fuhr or a Martin Brodeur [because] he lost his cool if you got in his face.”

Believe me, I love a fight as much as anyone. Probably more than most. But Jimmy needs to keep focused on what he is payed to do. The life of a fighting goalie is sure fun to watch. The fans loved young scrappy Hextall in Philly just as they cheered “Razor” Ray Emery in Ottawa. We know all too well about how Patrick Roy’s agressiveness got the best of him in some playoff series with Detroit.

Howard’s been great. I’d like to see him stay great. Keep the gloves down, let your defenceman take care of you and stop the puck. That’s the recipe to a long and productive NHL career.

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Posted on January 24, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I respect where you’re coming from with this, I really do. There is a fine line between becoming a goalie that is known for having a short temper and getting that respect as a goalie you don’t get close to but that’s not what’s happening with Jimmy.

    Yes, I am a Wings fan and I was at the game last night but there is no way that Jimmy acted out of reason. The atmosphere at the Joe was amazing and the crowd was really into the game. With less then 2 seconds left, a victory secured and Blues players rushing the crease I would expect that Jimmy act the way he did. That’s part of who he is as a player and he is only getting better. Plus do you really think that Mike Babcock is going to let Jimmy get out of hand?

    The ethos in the NHL is that you protect your goalie at all costs but it speaks to the tightness of the Wings brotherhood mentality that no one gets taken a run at without retribution, goalie or not (Except Helm, who was absolutely mugged last night). As a team not particularly known for their physicality, it’s nice to see the goalie mix it up and it makes it interesting for the fans. You would be pretty hard pressed to find someone in Detroit who doesn’t feel the same way.

    One of the fans featured on the big screen last night had a copy of the Detroit Free Press from when Ozzie got his 400th win and hoped to see the day that Jimmy met that landmark and so do I. Until Jimmy stops playing the way he is, it will be hard to believe otherwise.

  2. Thanks Logan, I respect your take on this, especially being that you were at the game. I agree it is tough to blame Jimmy for reacting the way he did last night. However, in my opinion, that reaction will only further entice teams to continue to storm the net.

    When you look at the personnel that was on the ice last night, Howard was pretty fortunate he or one of his teammates were not caught in a mismatch. The linesmen did a good job protecting the Red Wings against a much tougher 5 man Blues unit.

    While I love Jimmy’s aggressiveness. and his passion which seems to be driving him, a broken hand will surely end the Red Wings postseason dreams this season. He just needs to pick his spots better in my eyes. Otherwise we’re going to see this from other teams every game.

    Thanks and Go Wings!

  3. At first I was like “what?? That’s ridiculous I love when he shows that fire and that he isn’t going to deal with that bullshit”…….but the more I read and with the Hextall example the more I actually started to change my opinion. Now I think Hextall is the extreme and I don’t think you would see Howard two handing guys that come 5 feet within of his crease…but still great example of a goalie getting distracted by the “antics”.

    At the end of the day this is why I think it would be great for the Wings to go out and get a Tim Gleason or someone like that. I’m not saying they’re not tough enough but I like the idea of adding another big, tough, defensive defenceman.

  4. Well they certainly have the cap room to make a move like that at the deadline. Thanks for sharing!

  1. Pingback: Red Wings vs Canucks Preview 2/2/12 « BloggedShots

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