DETROIT – Goalie Jimmy Howard is testing the open market before his career comes to an end.
That’s according to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, who reported over the weekend that the longtime Detroit Red Wings goalie is “probably not” going to return with Detroit for the upcoming season (whenever that happens).
“Add another team/player to the goalie market: DET and Jimmy Howard. Howard, 36, said he was ‘probably not’ going to continue with the Red Wings, but squashed rumours he was retiring, saying, ‘Someone is going to have to tell me I can’t play anymore’ ... and that last year is not the way he wants to finish his career. He added he’s been training for two months in preparation, and that he’s discussed with his family the possibility of moving away for a year if somewhere close to home is not an option,” Friedman tweeted.
Howard was drafted by the Red Wings way back in 2003 at 64th overall in the 2nd round. He became the starter in 2009-10 and spent most of his career posting impressive save percentages including a career best 0.927 in 2016-17.
The historically bad 2019-20 season for the Red Wings was particularly unforgiving to Howard, whose save percentage was sub-.900 for the first time in his career as a starter. He finished with a terrible record of 2-23-2 with an 0.882 save percentage. He signed a 1-year contract with the Red Wings in 2019, so now is his time to test the open market.
Howard deserves to at least attempt to end his career on a high note, at least higher than this past season. With teams executing a more “split” goalie schedule, Howard may be the right fit for a more playoff-ready group. He could split a schedule with another starter, or offer support as a backup. Perhaps he goes to an organization with a young starter who could use a calming veteran presence on the bench.
Either way, I will say I am happy to see Howard is at least considering a stronger finish to his career. He has suffered through some nasty time over the past few seasons here in Detroit. If he can remain healthy, he definitely deserves another shot at helping a team go deep into the playoffs.
Howard is cemented in Red Wings history with the third all time games played (543) and wins (246). He’s behind only Terry Sawchuk and Chris Osgood in both of those categories.
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