As the regular season approaches, with only weeks remaining teams have made decisions on starting goalies, four lines, and starting defenceman. Almost every team knows their top two lines: every team, that is, but the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs have five players not attending camp. Malakhov, Koivu, Rucinsky, and Savage are without contracts. Shayne Corson refuses to play unless his salary is raised another 1.5 million dollars. So, with that in mind, many would think the Habs were in major trouble: Their season is ruined. Well, you would think that if you haven’t heard of St. Theo.
St. Theo has a red, white, and blue mask. He wears the sacred C proudly on his chest, has a large glove, a blocker, two pads, and carries a big stick. Some say St. Theo was sent from heaven, some say that he was not. Many think he will crack under the pressure of the notorius Montreal media. Others say that he will thrive with the attention. St. Theo has a number on his back. It is 60. And with that number is sewn a name: Theodore.
He wears the jersey proudly, but not only that, he protects his home as he has learned from another saint, St. Brodeur. He is solid in front of his territory, but when it is needed, he will come out to block possible entries into his private space. He sacrifices his body for a full 60 minutes on some nights, and others he sits, watches, and learns from his mentor Jocelyn Thibault. This man’s full name is Jose Theodore.
Theodore has always been “there” when Canadiens prospects are mentioned. Last year he was almost dealt to St. Louis that would have brought rearguard Steve Duschene to the Habs. But GM Rejean Houle couldn’t part with his future saviour. He has taken lashes from some who say he is overrated, and will never live up to his potential, yet he has saved his club from embarassment twice in two years. He may not have “experience” in the eyes of some, but two of the most pressure packed series this decade in Montreal have featured him coming to the rescue of fellow netminders Andy Moog and Jocelyn Thibault.
In his first pre-season appearance, he let in one goal over two periods, facing over 20 shots. To put it plainly, he looked spectacular. Some Montreal Newspapers called him the next Roy, as many Habs fans did as well. And it is not unrealistic to say that young Jose from Laval might even be the Habs starter in 1998-99. The Canadiens haven’t won a Calder in decades, but is it possible that the trophy could arrive soon? One hopes so. And one would not be optimistic in saying so. Stanley may be paying a visit come season’s end.