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6:09 PM ET, 5/10/06
Theodore is no savior
Posted by Michael Farber
There was ice on the windshields in Denver this morning, a day that dawned as bleak as the chances of the Colorado Avalanche advancing to the Western Conference final. Yes, it has been done before. You know them by now -- the 1942 Leafs, the 1975 Islanders, they came back from 3-0 deficits in the playoffs. Maybe we should throw in the 2004 Boston Red Sox as well, but their matinee idol was Johnny Damon and the Avalanche's is, unfortunately, Jose Theodore.
Theodore was supposed to be Patrick Roy redux in Colorado, a repeat of the 1995 trade with Montreal that wound up bringing three Stanley Cups to Colorado. Maybe some day general manager Pierre Lacroix's bold deal that swallowed some $11 million in salary will look just that good. But you have to wonder.
Three of the four Anaheim (by which we mean Joffrey Lupul) goals on Tuesday night beat Theodore high glove, his most glaring weakness. The overtime winner was deflected through Theodore's wickets, another problem area. For whatever reason Theodore, when he drops into his butterfly, sometimes doesn't get his stick down to the ice, leaving the five-hole unprotected.
He didn't play badly against the Mighty Ducks in Game 3, just well enough to lose in that felicitous phrase. If Colorado can't extend the series, Theodore will be remembered in his debut Avalanche season for the sterling performance that closed out Dallas in the first round and little else. Clearly he is a shadow of the 2002 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner who carried a mediocre Canadiens team into the second round. He has to stop taking a victory lap and rebuild his game. Fortunately, assistant coach Jacques Cloutier, a former goalie, might be just the man to help Theodore do it.
OK, rewind the clock two months. Think of the March 9 trading deadline (or as Canada likes to call it, a national holiday). There was the customary slew of deals, all designed to bolster playoff hopes. Now, still relatively early in the second round, what's happened? Did defenseman Willie Mitchell put the Stars over the top? Did defenseman Brendan Witt make Nashville a contender? Did Theodore (acquired before the deadline) become a playoff saviour?
The answer is no, no and no. As of this moment, only a few deadline acquisitions seem to have given any team a quantifiable boost: Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson and left winger Sergei Samsonov, both of whom were among the key figures in Edmonton's first round upset of Detroit, and perhaps Mark Recchi, who really has yet to fit in well with Carolina.
So print this out and forward it to your favorite GM next March before he does something rash.