Goaltender Jimmy Howard has been a fixture in the Detroit Red Wings crease on and off since he wrestled the starter’s job away from veteran Chris Osgood during the 2009-10 season. Since being drafted by the team in 2003, the Winged Wheel has been the only NHL jersey he’s ever worn.
But he knows that he likely won’t have a choice as to whether or not he’ll be able to continue to do so whenever the next regular season commences.
“I love this state, this city, and this city is home to us now. I would want to finish my career a Red Wing,” Howard said. “But at the same time, I’ve been around this game long enough to realize there comes a time when you have to separate ties. If that’s the way it’ll have to go, I’ve mentally prepared for that. My wife and I have talked about it a little bit, and if that’s going to be the case, it’ll have to be the case. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Honestly, there’s so much up in the air.”
It doesn’t look like Howard is intent on calling it a career, either. He believes he can still play in the NHL, and would like a chance to prove it.
“I want to keep playing,” he said. “This year left such a bitter taste in my mouth. I want to go out there and show people I can still play in this league – I know I’m capable.”
Though Howard built a reputation for being a solid and reliable goaltender over the years, he unfortunately suffered through the worst statistical season of his professional career in 2019-20. He won a total of two games out of 27 starts with a 4.22 goals-against-average and .822 save percentage.
Naturally for a proud veteran such as Howard, the ordeal certainly weighed on his mind.
“You go home shaking your head a lot of times,” he said. “I spent a lot sleepless nights constantly thinking about things. That’s not good. Normally I do a great job of separating things, but as the season kept going it got tougher.”
The team in front of him didn’t fare much better, having clinched the League’s worst record several weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak caused the stoppage of all gameplay in March.
The Red Wings are expected to move on with Jonathan Bernier manning the crease, and are rumored to be looking to free-agency to fill the remaining position alongside Bernier.
– – Quotes via Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News Link – –