Q&A with Maxime Daigneault

By Holly Gunning

Maxime Daigneault was a second round, 59th overall pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He played four years for the Val D’Or Foreurs in the QMJHL, where he lead his team to the Memorial Cup in 2001. Last season he had a 23-22-9 record, a 2.92 GAA and .912 save percentage with the Foreurs.

Daigneault signed a contract with the Capitals this summer and has been assigned to the team’s new ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays, located in Charleston, South Carolina. He has played six of the team’s 14 games so far, with a 3-1-0 record, a 2.73 GAA, and .905 save percentage.

Backing up veteran Kirk Daubenspeck, Saturday’s game against the Augusta Lynx had Daigneault on the edge of his seat — one didn’t have to start the game. There was no chair provided in the bench area for the back up and so he stood during the first period. In the third, down 2-1, South Carolina pulled Daubenspeck with about a minute left in the game, and though most of that minute was played in their end, Augusta didn’t score, missing multiple empty net chances. With 9.2 seconds left, South Carolina sent the game into overtime and then to a shootout, where they came out victorious.

Hockey’s Future spoke with Daigneault just after the game ended.

HF: Pretty crazy game, huh?
MD: Oh yeah! They only missed five empty nets, it was so unbelievable. But we came back hard with a goal and Dauber made some great saves in the breakaway (shootout).

HF: How do you feel like your season is going so far?
MD: Pretty good. It’s a pretty good team, very fast, very nice guys. When I came in, I didn’t know anybody, but they are very nice guys. The talent is good, there are a lot of fans, it’s a very good town. The caliber is very good in the East Coast.

HF: How do you think you’ve played in the six games you’ve gotten into?
MD: Yeah, I played well. I played so-so in one, I gave up seven goals, but they can happen to every goalie. But I came back with a good game after that and keep going good.

HF: How do you like living in Charleston?
MD: Oh it’s a very nice city. For four years I played in Val D’Or, five hours north of Montreal. It starts snowing in mid-October. Now it’s sun every day (smiling), very nice, can golf. It’s a very nice town.

HF: Are you a big golfer?
MD: Not really, I’m not very good. But I love to play golf.

HF: Do you have your own clubs?
MD: Yep.

HF: What was your score last time?
MD: 85.

HF: That’s pretty good!
MD: It is good (shrugging and smiling).

HF: How do you feel like the adjustment has been from junior?
MD: It’s kind of easier in the Coast than in junior – the Quebec league is very offensive, and the defense is not like here. Here you make the first save and all the D carry away the rebound. It’s easier here I think.

HF: Do you have a good relationship with your partner, Daubenspeck?
MD: Oh yeah, he’s a very good guy. He’s older than me, he’s 30. He has a lot of experience in this league and shows me some stuff to get better. He’s a very nice guy and we have a good competition for the net.

HF: Can you give an example of what he’s shown you that’s helped you already?
MD: On the short side of my net, put my knee up, stuff like that. Just ‘experience’ things that are hard to learn. When I played in junior, I was the older goalie. I had to learn with that goalie. Here it’s nice.

HF: Did you have a goalie coach in junior?
MD: Yes, I had a goalie coach in Val D’Or, Dan Cloutier, he’s a very good guy. He helped me a lot mentally. During the summer I worked with Stephane Waite, now he’s a goalie coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. But during the summer when I played Midget AAA, he was my goalie coach.

HF: Can you describe your style and who you play like?
MD: I’m a typical Quebec goalie, butterfly, I play like (JS) Giguere in Anaheim and (Roberto) Luongo. Square, patient with the puck, don’t make the first move.

HF: What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are?
MD: My strength is my style, my good positioning in the net. My weakness I think is to work on my quickness with my arms.

HF: What has Washington told you to work on, the same things you mentioned?
MD: Yep, that’s it. And to take some experience, that’s why I’m here. With the lockout. Washington loves to send a guy to the East Coast, (Rastislav) Stana, (Sebastien) Charpentier. It’s a kind of process for Washington. I will play more here than in the American League. Maybe I’d play like 15 games during the season, here I will play more and take some experience. It’s a long process. A lot of goalies in the NHL become good at 25, 26 years old.

HF: With the lockout then, it wasn’t a big surprise coming here.
MD: No, I knew it could happen, but every player expects to play at the highest level. But I took it positively, to increase my level and get some experience.

HF: How do you feel about the competition in net for Washington down the road, they have a lot of good goaltenders. Do you have a positive outlook on that?
MD: Sure. They love French goalies because the year before they had Charpentier, he’s a French guy, and now they have Max Ouellet, who is a French guy too. I think they like the kind of goalie with the style I play, butterfly, square. I’m very positive about that.

HF: What is your goal for this season?
MD: My first goal is to have good numbers, help the team to win the cup, and we’ll see what happens with the lockout.

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