Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jimmy Howard: From AHL to All-Star

When I decided to start collecting Jimmy Howard stuff a few years back, he had gone from being just  another Wings "goalie of the future" to the go to guy when Chris Osgood faltered during the 2009-10 season. Before that, I was aware of his presence as a prospect in the system, but not much more than that. Ever since he was drafted, there had always been high hopes for him, but nothing really materialized over four seasons bouncing between the Grand Rapids and Detroit. 

Even after he'd taken over the starting gig, a lot of people in Detroit were skeptical of Howard being the long term number one goalie, at least that's what it always seemed like. At the games, in the media, everywhere there still seemed to be many doubters.

I think that's changed by now, especially now that Jimmy can add an All-Star game nomination and start to his increasingly impressive NHL resume. Even I didn't think he would be an All-Star when the season started, I mean even with back-to-back 37 win seasons, Howard was not really considered a top goalie in the league. I obviously stand corrected now as he made his first All-Star appearance this past weekend.

One thing that's pretty neat about this is how he was "helped" into the game in part thanks to a "Vote for Howard" campaign held by a local radio station here in Detroit. Click here to check out the story. They even had a giant RV with the slogan plastered on the sides driving all around the city, take a look below.

Here's a cool moment from the skills competition where Jimmy took on Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings in the goalie race. While he didn't win the race, it was still pretty neat to watch. I've played a bit of goal in the past, I can't imagine having to skate full steam like that with all that gear on. I'd be worried about wiping out.

Other than the fact that Howard was the starter for Team Chara, the highlight of the game would have to be his stop on Steven Stamkos' penalty shot attempt, only the second one in All-Star game history. Stamkos tried his spin-o-rama move, but was denied.

Sometimes things take a while to work out the way you want them to, and Jimmy Howard is the perfect example of that. He was drafted by an organization that likes to keep their top prospects in the minors until the right time comes along. When that time came, Howard fit right in as the number one goalie and hasn't looked back since. The only downside to all of this, the price of his cards is going up and up every day.

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