Jean-Sebastien Giguere is looking to avenge his rejection by his previous employer, only it is shortly before his current employer may also say goodbye.
“I see it but I don’t know what management wants,” Giguere said of his chances of keeping a role with the Toronto Maple Leafs a few hours before he was to start in goal against the Anaheim Ducks. “I’m really just taking things one day at a time.
“My concern is to put some games together and stay healthy.”
The end of the month will mark one year since Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke traded goaltender Vesa Toskala and forward Jason Blake to the Ducks for Giguere. Unlike the blockbuster Dion Phauef trade, which was made the same day, the merits of this one are beyond debate. It was an unqualified success for the Leafs, although Giguere, 33, could well be traded by the Feb. 28 NHL trade deadline if Burke can find any takers for the final few months of his $7-million (all currency U.S.) salary.
Beyond that, it appears the only way Giguere would stay with the Leafs after he becomes a free agent this summer is if he agrees to a huge pay cut and a secondary role behind one of the youngsters – Jonas Gustavsson, James Reimer or Jussi Rynnas.
Giguere has a no-trade clause in his contract but said he would consider waiving it if approached by Burke. He waived the clause a year ago when he was given the chance to join Burke, his old boss with the Ducks. He also said he is willing to discuss a new contract.
“If Burkie comes to see me, I would owe him the responsibility to think about it and talk to my family about it,” Giguere said. “I haven’t talked to him at all [about a trade].”
Burke said via e-mail that he will not comment until he meets with Giguere to discuss his future. But the feeling around the organization is that if another NHL team makes an attractive offer of young players or draft picks Giguere will be approached.
In the meantime, Giguere is hoping his first game against his former team is also the start of a stretch free of the groin injury that nagged him this season. It is one reason his numbers are modest – an 8-7-3 record in 20 games with a 2.73 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.
“It will be pretty emotional,” he said. “It’s nice to play against your old team and I’m going to be very excited.”
The chances of Giguere exacting revenge on the Ducks, who sat fifth in the NHL’s Western Conference with a 26-19-4 record before the game, are slim. The youthful Leafs are in another bad stretch and will have to fight off the fatigue and bad karma from losing 7-0 on the road to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
“We need to forget about last night,” Giguere said.
Giguere is far from forgotten by his former team even though he was dumped for a younger goaltender in Jonas Hiller, who will start against him Thursday night. Giguere did not complain about his lesser role and offered his support to Hiller.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle noted Giguere led his team to the 2007 Stanley Cup at the same time as his newborn son was found to have a serious eye problem. The problem was treated successfully but Giguere spent a lot of uncertain days and nights during the 2007 playoffs.
“He had tragedy in his life and he was able to overcome it and win us a Stanley Cup,” Carlyle said. “You don’t forget that.
“When a young goalie comes along like Jonas Hiller you face a tough decision. In a salary-cap world, you couldn’t keep them all. But you couldn’t ask for a better role model [than Giguere].”