21 September 2007

Lehtonen v Hedberg

Bob Hartley reported to the AJC yesterday that Atlanta is not currently in possession of a clear-cut #1 goaltender. "We're fighting for that first regular-season game now," Lehtonen told the paper. "Whoever plays well in the pre-season is going to ..." Pausing for a moment, Lehtonen then continued: "We're all on the same line now, and we'll see how things go."

Hey, here's a thought, Hartley. You broke this goaltender. You broke him by flipping him back and forth with Moose in the playoffs, and you broke him by leaving him in to get lit up for 7 with no defence and no offence. For all intents and purposes, Lehts was the only Thrasher who left the bench to play that game against the Rangers. You fractured his confidence not only in himself, but as well in the team in front of him, and possibly his confidence in you and your coaching staff. Now, instead of remedying the situation, and coddling your young goaltender, as you should be, you're fracturing that fragile confidence even further.

Lehtonen has the capability to come out the top goaltender. He has the experience, the skill, and the determination. Whether he'll put 110% into it remains to be seen. It's hard to be all you can be when your own coach is showing the world he isn't sure he still believes in you.

Hartley reiterated the stance that Lehtonen is the goalie of the future, as he has been for a few years. But that future might not be as clear as it once was.

"At the same time," Hartley points out, "we have Pavelec."
There's the argument, though, that the less Lehts plays, the better he plays. However, that will remain to be seen. He's a full season removed from the groin injury, and at 23, he's far from an old man. I'm not making a case to keep Moose on the bench except in emergencies, however, give Kari the reins and let him run. Provide him the needed support to rebuild his confidence, and allow him to return to the trajectory of becoming the goalie everyone knows he can be.

Our Bad
Originally we posted this, asking if anyone knew why Lehts was wearing different pads. The photo on the left is indeed Lehtonen, with new pads (since last season anyway), but the goalie on the right, by process of elimination, is Dan Turple. Apologies all around for that mix-up!

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