Since coming to the Colorado Avalanche in 2011, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been a stabilizing force for the team. He came in at the same time that Colorado acquired Semyon Varlamov, as it had been apparent the previous season that the team needed to push the reset button on their goaltending.
Giguere has filled two major roles in his time with the Avalanche. He has been a much more than competent backup, but just as importantly, a mentor for Varlamov, who has been groomed into a franchise goaltender. Giguere had plenty to do with the turnaround Colorado enjoyed this past year, because of both his play and his leadership. But now it seems likely that Giguere's part in the reconstruction of the Avalanche may be over.
No official announcements have been made as to what Giguere's intentions are for the next season, although based on the language that was used around the team throughout the last year, it would be surprising if he doesn't decide to call it a career. The emotional ceremony at the end of the regular season when Giguere and his close friend and former teammate Teemu Selane skated around the rink together also strongly implies that Giguere is ready to hang up his skates.
The Avalanche have been preparing for this. With an expectation that Giguere will not be back, the team made a move at the trade deadline to acquire Swiss netminder Reto Berra, who is currently representing his country at the IIHF World Championships. According to the team's television personalities, Berra is somebody that the Avalanche brass have liked and had their eye on for a while. Though he is clearly in need of some experience and development, apparently the belief of the team is that he has the ability to be a solid goaltender. It is not yet certain, but right now Berra is the frontrunner to become Varlamov's backup moving forward.
As for Giguere, his efforts and commitment to the Colorado Avalanche in the final years of his career have been crucial to the team getting back on track. It will be sad to see him go, whether it is this year as expected or later. Lest anyone think that a backup goaltender isn't important, Giguere's contributions to the Avalanche have proven otherwise.Tags: Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, NHL, Reto Berra, Semyon Varlamov