Dear Calvin Pickard,
I didn’t think it’d be this hard. I figured losing the back-up goalie who had a 2.98 goals against average and a .904 save percentage would be an easy pill to swallow. Yet, here we are. Less than 24 hours removed from Las Vegas announcing you as their #1 overall expansion pick. And, I’m sad.
I’m sad because none of this was your fault.
You were tasked with the impossible. Semyon Varlamov, right on schedule, got hurt, and you were thrown into the fire. You had to play behind an offense that averaged 2.01 goals per game and a defense that included Francois Beauchemin playing 20+ minutes a night.
Could you have been better? Probably. But everyone on the team could have been better. It wasn’t your fault that you failed to be the one guy who rose from the depths of hockey hell.
In some ways, you were the scapegoat for the poor season. Joe Sakic could have easily protected you over Varlamov. George McPhee wasn’t going to take Varlamov and his contract having once traded the Russian goalie and already talked into taking Marc-Andre Fleury. But this would have meant potentially losing Mark Barberio or Mikhail Grigorenko (who they also could have protected instead of Blake Comeau).
Sakic decided to give Varlamov a vote of confidence, or something, by protecting him. Because when you have a chance to give your $5.9 million often injured starter a vote of confidence instead of making the best decision for the team, you have to do it.
You ended up being the most enticing option for Las Vegas. A 25-year-old goalie with starter’s experience, on a good contract, and, by all accounts, a good teammate and guy to have in the locker room. Having already tabbed Fleury as their starter, you were the best option to be his back-up.
I don’t know how well you’ll play in Las Vegas. You were great in the World Championships behind an All-Star team, but now you’re behind a team that might be worse than the Avs. That’s ok, though. No one expects much from Vegas. And hey, you’re a professional athlete living in Las Vegas. I suspect life won’t be that bad for you.
This letter is to say thank you for your time in Denver. Thanks for providing us with awesome celebrations. Thanks for taking more criticism than you probably deserved last season. Thanks for not complaining about having to face 50 shots a game. Thanks for having the name Calvin Pickard.
P.S. Could you please pass this letter to Matt Duchene, Tyson Barrie, and Gabriel Landeskog next week? Just change the names. It would save me a lot of time. Thanks.