Only sixty goalies get to play in the NHL at any given time and as a result, those who play the position are constantly on thin ice (unless they happen to be named Brodeur). Goalies can appear from nowhere to establish themselves as Vezina contenders before disappearing just as fast the next season. Selected in the 8th Round, 188th overall, of the 1993 Draft by the Hartford Whalers, Manny Legace wasn’t expected to break into the NHL anytime soon.
And then he didn’t. He bounced between the AHL, the ECHL and the IHL for five years before finally getting his first start as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. He had finally made it to the big time, and the big time responded by sending him back to the IHL after only 17 games.
Legace was involved in a quick game of tug-and-war between the Red Wings and Canucks after he signed with Detroit in 1999. The Alliston, Ontario born goaltender was claimed off waivers by Vancouver two months later and then reclaimed, once again off waivers, by Detroit two weeks after that. Having proved to the world that he could efficiently pack and repack his suitcase, Legace played fantastically in the 2000-01 season, serving as the backup behind the championship winning Detroit Red Wings team.
In 2003, Legace was suddenly the starting goaltender of the powerhouse Red Wings, playing ahead of the recently unretired Dominik Hasek and the overpriced minor leaguer Curtis Joseph. Legace responded by getting injured, but still played a career high of 41 games during the season, posting a .920 SV% and 2.12 GAA.
After the Red Wings embarrassingly bowed out of the 2005-06 playoffs to the 8th place Edmonton Oilers despite their Presidents Trophy winning 124 point regular season, Legace announced that he wanted to leave the team. Detroit let him go, opting for former Blues goaltender Chris “Sketchy Goal” Osgood.
Legace was acquired by the St. Louis Blues in the offseason for the purpose of becoming their number 1 goaltender. For the better part of three seasons, Legace tended the goal, recording a winning record despite playing for a team that couldn’t quite qualify for the playoffs. He was even rewarded with a spot in the 2008 Western Conference All-Star team.
His run fell apart during this season, when a .855 SV% earned him a spot on the bench behind Chris Mason before later moving down to the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen where he now plays, passing through waivers without any interest.
Such is the life of a goalie in the NHL: it doesn’t take very long to go from hero to zero.