Fame hasn't beaten Giguere
By Phil Coffey | NHL.com
May 26, 2003
Hockey players rarely take center stage on The Tonight Show, but Jean-Sebastien Giguere got to yuk it up with host Jay Leno on May 23.
Time, a long-time chronicler of world events, also has taken the time to get "Jiggy" with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim goaltender.
This type of media attention outside the sports world gives you a fair indication of just the kind of spring Giguere has enjoyed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His Mighty Ducks are in the Stanley Cup Finals and he has played a huge role in getting them there.
"Well, I came into the Playoffs taking it as a learning experience," Giguere said of the hype that has accompanied the Mighty Ducks' Stanley Cup journey. "The journalists and the media attention, which we don't get here very often is part of the learning experience, something that every athlete has to go through if they want to be successful and win a championship. That's fine by me. It's baggage I have in my bag. It's something in the future I'll be maybe more ready to face.
"Obviously, Anaheim isn't a huge hockey market," he said. "But we've been getting a lot of notice, which is good for the organization. The organization has been there for 10 years. This is something they wanted and they were hoping for, and that's great.
"There's more media and all that. You just have to maybe manage your time better when it's time to talk to the journalists, but you also have to do what you have to do to be successful. I think it's a little bit of a learning process there."
Despite a regular season that saw Anaheim build 95 points and a Playoff berth for the first time in three seasons, the eight-seeded team in the western Conference was expected to be little more than cannon fodder against the powerhouse franchises aligned against the Mighty Ducks. But riding a wave of goaltending and solid team play that defies imagination, the Ducks went from postseason curiosity to Playoff power.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings - out in four games, including a triple-overtime marathon in Game 1 where Giguere made 63 saves. That victory cemented the notion that the Ducks could win in Giguere's mind.
"I believe that the goalie is a big part of playoff hockey," Giguere said. "That's obvious. Any team that won the Stanley Cup in the past 10 years had a goaltender that was playing very well. Saying that, I also believe in the team game, team effort. The goalie can only do so much. You need to be able to score the big goals -- the goalie can do nothing about scoring some goals. You need to make it hard on the other team by checking them, by doing all the stuff that forwards and defensemen do.
"Game 1 in Detroit was a new experience for me," Giguere said. "You learn from your experiences. I wouldn't say I have tons of experience, but I know I can do it. I don't play the score. I don't play the time left or anything like that. I don't care what my forwards are doing at the other end. My job is to make the saves, and that's all I'm focusing on."
In the second round came the top seeded Dallas Stars - out in six games. In the Western Conference Finals the upstart Minnesota Wild, giant-killers themselves with series wins over Colorado and Vancouver - out in four games in which they scored all of one goal.
Get Jiggy with it, indeed.
And the funny thing about all this is Anaheim coach Mike Babcock and his players laugh at the notion that Giguere has come from outer space to lead this team's resurgence. They know full well that without Giguere's 34-22-6 record, 2.30 goals-against average and .920 save percentage that there is no trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
"He's just good," Anaheim captain Paul Kariya said of Giguere. "He makes it look easy because of his positioning and his technique. Jiggy's got a great personality. He's very easygoing. He's not a typical goaltender. He's one of the guys. No eccentric things about him."
Another in a long line of top-notch goalies from Quebec, Giguere grew up idolizing Patrick Roy, which isn't a bad place to start for a youngster interested in stopping pucks for a living. At the age of 12, Giguere received a stick from his idol that proved to be both lucky and a lasting memory.
"I played with it for the rest of the season," Giguere recalled. "We won everything with it. It was kind of a lucky stick. It broke about five times. I glued it back, put a lot of tape on it. It was a great gift. I think my parents still have it in their basement."
Goaltending coach Francois Allaire wasn't a gift from Roy, but his tutelage did help Roy establish himself in the NHL. Today, Allaire works with Giguere in what has blossomed into a perfect student-teacher relationship.
"Francois gave me confidence by giving me tools in my bag to work with -- a technique that's very simple to use, a foundation that, whenever things go wrong or whenever things go right, I always try to stay with the same foundation," Giguere said. "You can't change your game plan. If I give two, three goals in the next game in the first period, I'm not going to change the way I play because of that. He gave me some tools to play with. Playing with those skills gave me a lot of confidence.
"He's taught me a lot. When I came here to Anaheim three years ago, my game wasn't nearly as good as it could have been. My confidence level was very low. I wasn't sure if I could ever play in the NHL. He just brought my game back to a very simple way of playing. Every time there's a situation happening on the ice, I know a very simple answer to make every time. He's given that to me. He's given me a lot of confidence, a lot of experience. He's got 20 years' experience in the NHL. He's given me that."
"After a while, a guy understands," Allaire said. "I think the school is good for technique, but I think it's more important the time you spend that makes the difference."
And all the hard work has paid off as Giguere has entered the proverbial "zone."
"Well, if there's such a thing," Giguere said when asked if he was "in the zone" so to speak. "I'm feeling very good. I'm seeing the puck very well on the ice. I feel my legs are good, my conditioning is really good. You know, the zone just doesn't come in and out, it's just something that you work and work and work. When it's time to play as well as you can, you try to bring it.
"Any new game in the Playoffs is a challenge," he said. "Any team can beat any team. The intensity level is definitely very high. You can't really be worried about who you're playing against. I think in the end, if a team wants to be successful, they have to worry about themselves, what they're going to bring to the rink every day, how you're going to do it."
Solid advice because the Mighty Ducks' opponents this spring haven't been able to find any way to beat Giguere.
*giggles at Paul gushing over JS* It's so nice when real life fits in with fic world.
I'm already nervous about tonight and the game is like 7 hours away. All my nice, happy feelings about the Devils are going to go crawl under a rock until the series ends, like they did with the Wild.
Can I have Jean Grey's or Professor X's powers so I can influence the results? :) I picked Jean Grey when she was still sucky in the first X-Men, so that counts for something, doesn't it? *flawed logic* Alex says he wants Magneto's powers. He also decided that Rogue's power is the "power to not get laid".
Flan, you can come use my bathroom if you want. :)