BEST OF THE WORST: LA Kings & Edmonton Oilers Goalies

NOTE FROM The Royal Half: We are beyond excited to welcome KnickRickle to the pages of The Royal Half as one of the winners of North America’s Next Top Blogger™: Season 2! Knick is an accomplished hockey goalie and he’s poised to become the TRH Official Goaltending Expert™.

Let’s get to know Knick, shall we?

TRH: Besides 2 Stanley Cups in 3 Seasons, what is the greatest moment in LA Kings history?

KR: I am tempted to say something Robb Stauber-related being that I went to his goaltending schools as a kid, but for matters of making this the best application possible I will answer the #ReverseSweep because I despise every thing about San Jose.

If that is too connected to winning the Cup I will change my answer to Ryan Getzlaf going bald at the age of 30, because it gives us another reason to make fun of the Ducks.

But actually this video is pretty awesome so I might go with the Stauber answer.

TRH: What kind of posts would you like to do for the blog?

KR: I have been a goalie through youth, high school, junior and college hockey and could add some goaltending insight, but no one wants to hear from goalies anyway. Unless they just won the Conn Smythe and have drank their jersey number in beers.

I could do posts breaking down key goaltending matchups throughout the year (aka finding reasons why the other goalie sucks) or can offer an endless supply of self-deprication from being stuck in the midwest winter, which is sure to make all of you in California feel better about your current situations. 

It’s awesome having KnickRickle on #TeamTRH solely for the fact that when we play pick-up against rival hockey blogs, we finally have a goalie! We are proud to present his first contribution to The Royal Half! Take it away, Knick!!!

rickknickle

Tonight, as Los Angeles and Edmonton prepare to meet each other for the first of five times this season, Kings fans, players and staff alike are preparing to welcome back an old friend to Staples Center: Benjamin John Scrivens.

The Oilers goaltender, Ivy League graduate and all-around swell guy is set to make his first appearance back in front of the Kings faithful which systematically swooned over him during his brief stay a year ago.

ScrivensStats

These numbers weren’t too shabby either.

In honor of Scrivens’ wonderful time in the LA goal crease and his continued success in Edmonton, let us flip back the calendar pages a few years and take a cathartic glance at a time where the Kings and Oilers goaltending situations were enough to make their fans bash their heads against a brick wall.

But first, remember back in the late-80s and early-90s when things were great for the both the Kings and Oilers, at least as far as their netminders were concerned. Holding down the fort in the Forum were Kelly Hrudey and the incomparable Rick Knickle (ok so maybe just Kelly Hrudey).

But this mustache is actually incomparable…
Unless you are counting every 70s porn star than it is pretty typical.

Up to the north, a few of the game’s greats made their home between the Oiler pipes, with Andy Moog and Grant Fuhr forming a formidable tandem for the greater part of a decade before handing the reins to Bill Ranford.

As they say, however, all good things come to an end, and both teams soon found themselves in goaltending purgatory; a never-ending depression of quality backstops (which led to the depression of their fan bases). A depression that LA has only recently recovered from, and that Edmonton is hoping that Scrivens and Viktor Fasth can finally rescue them from.

It was a period pockmarked with the Fukufujis and the Drouin-Deslauriers of the world, when the goalie position for both Los Angeles and Edmonton looked like a revolving door of mediocrity than something they could build a team around.

Considering that the Kings and Oilers are both squads with a rich hockey history and a long-standing tradition of success at the highest level (long-standing meaning the last five years for Los Angeles), chance would have it that these two teams suffered through these trying times simultaneously.

Now sit down, get your anxiety medication ready, and enjoy a brief recollection of the best of what was the absolute worst.

Stephane Fiset – Los Angeles Kings – 1996-2001

fiset

The Kings acquired Fiset from Colorado at the start of the 96-97 season for something called Eric Lacroix and a first-round draft pick that turned out to be Martin Skoula. Sidenote: Have you seen Eric Lacroix lately?

One of these is a former professional hockey player and one is Eric Lacroix.

Fiset appeared in 40 or more games for the Kings from ‘97 to 2001, and carded two seasons with a winning record and made playoff appearances in ’98, ’00 and ’01.

So why is Fiset on this list? He went 0-5 in the playoffs and got shipped off to Montreal for future considerations in the spring of ’02. In case you didn’t know, “future considerations” is hockey-speak for a bag of pucks or a washing machine.

Tommy Salo – Edmonton Oilers – 1998-2004

If you take a look at the numbers that Salo turned in for the Oil in the five-plus seasons he spent in Alberta, you might be confused as to why he’s on this list. Salo recorded 25 or more wins in four of his five full seasons with Edmonton, and took his team to the playoffs four times as well. But Salo did finish with a 5-16 playoff record and being a good goalie is all about performing when the lights are at their brightest.

Like at the Olympics, where Salo lost to Belarus. While he was a representative of the Edmonton Oilers.

 

Ty Conklin – Edmonton Oilers – 2001-2006

Speaking of performing well in playoffs, remember this?

Sorry about bringing that up, at least things ended up working well for these two.

As for Conklin’s legacy in Edmonton, I’d say this about sums it up.

 

Dan Cloutier – Los Angeles Kings – 2006-2008

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It is not to say that Cloutier’s tenure in Los Angeles was rough, but it made fans harken back to the good ol’ days when the dynamic duo of Roman Cechmanek and Cristobal Huet ran the show.

In his two years of sharing the net with Mathieu Garon, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Erik Ersberg, Jean-Sebastien Aubin and Danny Taylor among others (the Kings were so deep in the nets at this time that a grand total of 11 goalies saw playing time in two seasons), Cloutier carded GAAs of 3.98 and 3.44.

In fact, when you run a search on Google Image for Cloutier, three of the first five results contain a Photoshopped beach ball in the net behind him.

Thanks a lot Vancouver.

He also had an ugly incident with then-Nashville Predator and soon-to-be Kings trade-deadline pickup Scott Hartnell that really gave his reputation a black eye.

Such an outburst was so uncharacteristic of Cloutier, but thankfully it was only a one-time thing and did not in any way define his career.

Wait, never mind.

(Dis)Honorable Mentions:

Los Angeles: Frederic Chabot (1997-08), Steve Passmore (2000-01), Milan Hnilicka (2003-04), Adam Hauser (2005-06), Jason Labarbera (2008-09)

Edmonton: Mikhail Shtalenkov (1998-99), Steve Passmore (1998-99), Dominic Roussel (2000-01), Mike Morrison (2005-06), Jason Labarbera (2013-14)

Now if this glimpse back into the history books gave you a series of nightmarish flashbacks, take a step back and breathe, because the times are much better now. The past is in the past and you can rest assured that your team is in the hands of not only capable goaltenders, but some of the league’s best (offer may not apply in Edmonton).

But as the 2014-15 Kings and Oilers renew their rivalry tonight, let fans of both teams get together and mutually agree on one thing: At least it isn’t 2005 anymore.

Knick Rickle was a former junior and college goaltender and is a current aspiring journalist and mediocre adult league goaltender. While growing up in Minneapolis, he learned how to play by attending Robb Stauber's goalie school, which unbeknownst to him at the time was the first step in becoming a Kings fan. The rest of the steps came when became probably the first person ever to move to California from Minnesota to play hockey. He currently is unemployed, holds an English degree, while contributing to #TeamTRH, so you be the judge how his hockey career turned out. You can follow KnickRickle on Twitter @KnickRickle.
  • Braidonh

    Mike “king of the shootout until he lost one and vanished forever” Morrison