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. Oilers goaltender, Ivy League graduate and all-around swell guy Ben Scrivens 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.
These numbers weren’t too shabby either
In honor of Scrivens’ wonderful time in the LA goalcrease 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).
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.
The Kings acquired Fiset from Colorado at the start of the 96-97 season for something called Erik Lacroix and a first-round draft pick that turned out to be Martin Skoula. 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.
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. Enough to earn him a spot in this article.
Speaking of performing well in playoffs, remember this?
Sorry about bringing that up, at least things ended up working for these two.
As for Conklin’s legacy in Edmonton, I’d say this about sums it up.
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.
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 to one thing.
At least it isn’t 2005 anymore.