In the expansion draft that was held seven years ago, the Calgary Flames figured they might lose Giguere and get nothing in return, so they swapped him for a second-round draft pick. In retrospect, it was a spectacularly cheap acquisition for the Ducks.
Now, at age 30, Giguere is as technically strong a butterfly specialist as there is in the league, and his presence in the Anaheim crease is being viewed as an edge for the Ducks going into Game 1 of the championship series Monday night.
The 2003 playoff MVP from Montreal has a ton more big-game experience than has the Ottawa Senators’ Ray Emery, the 24-year-old native of Cayuga, Ont., who is fantastically athletic with sharp reflexes, but who sometimes leaves too many rebounds and who, remember, is in just his first season as a No. 1 big-league puck stopper.
Giguere has the superior stats during the playoffs this spring – 1.87 to Emery’s 1.95 in goals-against average, and a .931 save percentage compared to Emery’s .919.
The two have dissimilar goaltending styles and personalities. The fact Giguere wears 35 and Emery wears 1 is a coincidental, but apt reflection of the differences.
Giguere is not flashy. More often than not, he’s quiet around his teammates. He’s a straight-as-an-arrow family man, which was magnified on the eve of the playoffs when he briefly left the team to tend to his infant son Maxime, who was born April 4 with no sight in his right eye. Giguere himself has a rare physical condition where his body takes in too much air when drinking, which causes an advanced rate of dehydration. He takes his helmet off frequently to minimize sweating during stoppages in play.
Giguere hasn’t always received the recognition he deserves.
“That’s probably because he plays on the West Coast,” says teammate Andy McDonald. “Everyone in our locker room really appreciates what he does and is aware of his ability.
“He’s one of the elite goaltenders in this league and I just think that, in terms of (media) coverage, somebody on the West Coast isn’t going to get as much attention.”
Emery was drafted and developed by the Senators. He’s single. He is a charismatic figure who says that if he were not a pro athlete he’d be designing clothes or operating a clothing store. He ate a cockroach last season.
“The cockroach was in the dressing room in Carolina and the boys had some money up on who would eat the cockroach,” he recalled during an interview Sunday. “So I ate the cockroach.
How was it?
“It was alright,” said Emery.
It is impossible to imagine Giguere punching an opponent, but Emery has been in scraps during games. He set a record of sorts by getting two major fighting penalties in a game against the Buffalo Sabres last February. He had the audacity to have an image of notorious boxer Mike Tyson on his mask, although he’s changed to Canadian fight legend George Chuvalo now.
“I guess I’m a bit different,” he said. “I’m interested in a ton of different things.
“I tend to kind of leave the game at the rink just because that’s how I deal with things.”
Emery’s stock has risen dramatically in the last six months.
“This is kind of a coming-out party for him,” says teammate Wade Redden. “He’s just starting to show what he can do.”
Giguere, who played his last junior hockey seasons with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, has for his entire tenure with the Ducks worked closely with Francois Allaire, the Boisbriand, Que., goaltending guru who helped Patrick Roy become a star.
Emery, who played in the OHL for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, has been honing the technical aspects of his play with Ron Low, the former NHL goalie and coach from Birtle, Man., who joined the Senators’ staff just before last season.
With the Stanley Cup on the line, it’s Jiggy versus Sugar Ray in the creases.