Jean Sebastian-Giguere was expected to start for the Avalanche versus the Dallas Stars, for what one assumes are obvious reasons, but on Friday morning, we learned that Semyon Varlamov would be in net instead.
It's a curious decision and it goes without saying that the optics don't look great, especially in light of the allegations against Varlamov. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy explained his decision, however, to the Denver Post:
"Why wait?" Avs coach Patrick Roy said after the team's morning skate, when it was announced Varlamov will start less than 48 hours after being arrested on charges of domestic violence and kidnapping against his girlfriend. "We're all aware of what happened, but we just feel that he's our guy. We have confidence in him and feel that it's good for him to play tonight."
Roy said he had a handful of conversations with Varlamov on Thursday, and said he and the team are in "full support" of him. Varlamov's attorney and agent both have strongly denied the allegations against him. Varlamov, unavailable for comment Friday morning — which is standard procedure for a goalie playing that night — will address the media for the first time after the game.
Lucky break for Varlamov. Starting lets him put off speaking to the media until after the game, at which point there will be a game to talk about, and he can dodge the questions everybody really wants to ask.
As for Roy, I'll be honest -- this is probably a poor time to answer with a rhetorical question. Why wait? I think we know why.
Still, you can understand the temptation (to which Roy has given in) to start Varlamov. His numbers so far this season are spectacular, and probably the largest reason the Avalanche have 10 wins in their first 11 games. He's with the team, and he's a tough weapon to leave on the bench.
This is going to be an interesting situation to watch. The Avalanche's team save percentage has been unsustainably high through the first month of the season. The club is due for some iffy goaltending. But if it begins tonight, I don't think anyone will be pointing to the laws of regression as the root cause of it. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, Varlamov's allegations are going to hang over them for quite awhile.
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