My first thought when I read that the Sabres had re-signed Patrick Lalime to back up Ryan Miller: "I'm fine with it."
Then, as I thought more about Lalime's Sabres tenure, I realized how odd that sounded. I recalled specific failures such as his inability to keep the Sabres in the playoff hunt when Miller got hurt late in 2008-09. I remembered cursing his inability to even make it out of the first period during West Coast road trips against LA and Anaheim, at times when Miller desperately needed rest. I remembered that just three months ago, the notion that Lalime would be a Sabre in 2010-11 was patently absurd.
But let's face it: the notion of the Sabres paying a backup goaltender big money is pretty silly. That's just not how they roll. Aside from the oddity in 2006-07 when Biron made $2 million-plus to ride the pine after Miller stole his job, the Sabres have never been interested in expensive backup options. Turco and Nabokov were certainly never considered; heck, neither were Ellis or Niittymaki. Biron made sense for the price, but the Rangers cheated and signed him five nanoseconds after free agency began.
So the very first thing I realized when I heard the news is that Lalime had to have been cheap. I was the opposite of shocked when I learned it was a one year deal for $600,000.
The other thing I immediately thought about: what about Lindy Ruff's confidence level in Lalime? That's the common complaint amongst Sabre fans when discussing the backup goalie. But why would Regier re-sign Lalime if that was in fact an issue? That tells me the confidence issue is only in our heads as fans. And maybe that's exactly what Miller was trying to point out with his public shout-out to Lalime at the NHL awards.
Besides, should we really be paying $2 million or more for a guy who will play 20 games at most? Seems like a waste of money. Teams without elite goaltenders do that.
Guess it wasn't worth worrying about who the backup would be after all.
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