'It has to be a team-first mentality,' Auld says
Hugh Adami, The Ottawa CitizenPublished: Thursday, July 24, 2008
Martin Gerber can probably breathe a little easier with Alex Auld and not Ray Emery waiting in the wings to be the Ottawa Senators' No. 1 goalie.
Auld, signed to a two-year, $2-million U.S. contract on July 1, didn't hide his desire yesterday to become the starting goalie for the Senators, but he made it pretty clear he'll accept the backup role, too. So fans shouldn't expect him to throw any temper tantrums or show up late for practice if Gerber can hold onto to the No. 1 job.
"I think we'll complement each other very well," said Auld, who is 6-4 and about 200 pounds.
Alex Auld makes his first visit to Ottawa as a Senator.
"I think we're both good goalies, and if we're both playing well, that's going to be good for the team. I don't have a problem with the healthy competition between goalies. It's a unique dynamic. There has to be competition. You have to push each other, and, at the same time, you have to be teammates who get along and support each other.
"In my career, when I've been on the bench, I've probably been the other goalie's biggest fan and supporter, and you hope for the same when you're in net, too."
"I think it has to be a team-first mentality. You prepare, you do all you can to come into camp and be ready to play and earn your ice time. You push and try to force the coach's hand.
"I see both of us as No. 1 goalies ... . If we're both playing our best and making it hard for the coach, it's great for the team."
Auld, who was house-hunting in Ottawa for a few days, is well aware that Gerber's future as a Senator is cloudy, at best. Gerber's lucrative three-year, $11.1-million contract expires at the end of 2008-09, and his critics say he's way overpaid for someone who will probably never lead the Senators to a Stanley Cup championship. If Auld can at least prove he is capable of being a No. 1 goalie this season, then even if Gerber plays a majority of the club's 82-game schedule, then who knows what could happen in 2009-10?
"As a player, a free agent going into a situation, you look at and realize there is that potential upside," he said. "You can look at (possibilities), but it's better not to plan because you don't have a lot of say in anything like that ... . I look at the (possibilities) and then forget about (them) quickly."
Auld, 27, and his wife, Melanie, who started dating in high school in Thunder Bay, have a six-month son, Sam, and would like to settle in an NHL city for a lot longer than just one season.
Auld was traded to the Boston Bruins last December by the Phoenix Coyotes, who had signed him as a free agent the previous summer. Acquired to help the Bruins after Manny Fernandez suffered a season-ending injury, Auld posted a 9-7-5 record, a .919 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average. Despite very decent statistics, Auld knew he would be in Boston for only the short-term.
Before going to Phoenix last year, Auld played as a backup for the Florida Panthers in 2006-07, and ended the season with a 7-13-5 record.
Though he was drafted 40th overall in 1999 by the Panthers (when Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray held the same job for Florida), Auld's rights were traded to the Vancouver Canucks in 2001. He spent most of the next three seasons with Vancouver's farm team, the Manitoba Moose, which he also played for during the NHL lockout. Auld took over as top goalie in Vancouver in 2005-06 after Canucks regular Dan Cloutier suffered a serious knee injury.
Auld, who played major junior with the Ontario Hockey League's North Bay Centennials, finished his first full NHL season at 33-26-6. He also had a .902 save percentage and 2.95 average. The Canucks still failed to make the playoffs, and, during the summer, Auld, along with Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan Allen, were traded to Florida for a package that included star goalie Roberto Luongo.