We all know goalies are fragile creatures, a.k.a. complete head cases, so it should come as no surprise that they’d want to avoid situations in which their focus would be challenged by outside factors.
So it shouldn’t be too surprising that Jaroslav Halak asked Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates not to play him against his former team, the St. Louis Blues, on Tuesday night. According to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post, Halak told Oates he wasn’t comfortable facing his former teammates, so the Capitals will instead start Braden Holtby with their playoff lives on the line.
And yet here’s the Capitals’ big deadline acquisition, the veteran goalie that would be able to handle the pressure of a playoff race and a postseason run, and he’s admitting that he’d harm the Capitals’ chances of winning this game if he started.
For a player whose mental toughness was already at issue, this is damning from a reputation standpoint.
On Monday, he admitted he had mixed emotions about heading back to St. Louis.
“It’s still fresh. I play there for four years. I know these guys,” Halak told the Washington Post. “We’ll see whether I play or not, but obviously I’m looking forward to go back there.”
Turns out, he won’t play.
Now, it must be said that Blues goalie Ryan Miller had a similar situation after the trade deadline, and did not play against the Buffalo Sabres when they visited St. Louis. “This year it's pretty fresh leaving that situation, so maybe it's just a full break, get [Brian Elliott] in there,” said Miller.
Let’s just say he isn’t facing the same backlash as Halak.