MONTREAL, QC – So much has been said about Carey Price and the number one role he will fill with the Montreal Canadiens next season. What a saga this off-season has been, and to most Montreal Canadiens fans, the Carey Price signing, more so the length of time it took to achieve, by far outweighs the Kovalchuk signing in New Jersey, in terms of interest in the story.
Just how many games Carey Price will play next season is still a mystery for everyone, no one can predict it, and it’s fair to say that the answer to this question will rely very much on how well Carey Price plays and how healthy he is able to stay. That being said, very little has been said about the man who will second him between the pipes, that man being Alex Auld. Sure we’ve been told he’s a journeyman, a “for sure” number two, a goalie who leaves no doubt in the eyes of anyone that he will not be able to challenge Carey Price for the number one position, but who exactly is Alex Auld and what has be done so far in his career?
- Date of birth: January 7th, 1981 (Age 29)
- Born: Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 216
- Catches: Left
- Jersey Number: 35
Alex Auld played his entire junior career with the North Bay Centennials of the Ontario Hockey League. After posting rather ordinary numbers in the 1998-99 season, he was drafted to the Florida Panthers in the second round (40th overall) of the 1999 NHL entry draft.
1999 NHL Draft:
- It was a rather weak draft year for goaltenders although anticipation prior to it might have been otherwise. The first round saw three goaltenders getting drafted:
- Brian Finley
- Selected 6th overall by the Nashville Predators. Never really saw the light of day in the NHL and fell off the grid following the 2006-07 season.
- Maxime Ouellet
- Selected 22nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. Same as for Finley, played 9 games in the 2008-09 season for the North American Hockey league but fell off the grid since.
- Ari Ahonen
- Selected 27th overall by the New Jersey Devils. A surprise pick, but to not surprise most have never heard of him and never will. I believe he plays in Europe but I won’t waste anyone’s time confirming.
It should be noted that the following goalies were drafted after Auld and the previous three, and they turned out to be somewhat of surprises, except maybe for one. (Sorry ML which means sorry FlyersRule!)
- Craig Anderson
- Selected in the 3rd round, 77th overall by the Calgary Flames. (Was later re-eligible for draft and drafted in the 2001 draft by Chicago Blackhawks.) He today plays for the Colorado Avalanche and was sensational last season helping them make the playoffs.
- Mike Leighton
- Selected in the 6th round, 165th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. He today plays for the Philadelphia Flyers and helped them in their playoffs success last season reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
- Last but not least, Ryan Miller
- Selected in the 5th round, 138th overall by the Buffalo Sabres. He still plays for the Sabres to this day, is considered by far a steal in this draft by NHL standards, and is a dominant goalie in the NHL today.
The draft can also be remembered for Patrik Stefan being drafted 1st overall to the Atlanta Thrashers, they gave up on him a few years ago and he played in Bern last season. The Vancouver Canucks were a little bit more fortunate having the 2nd and 3rd overall picks, and elected to select the Sedin twins.
Ok, so I went way off course with the draft, but the information is interesting, so I thought I would share it. In 2001, Auld was elected to represent Team Canada at the World Junior Championships where he backed up Maxime Ouellet in winning a bronze medal, and later that season was traded to the Vancouver Canucks.
Alex Auld’s professional career is a mixed bag of American Hockey League, National Hockey League and even a little bit of East Coast Hockey league over his career. An ankle injury early in his career probably set him back but Alex never truly established himself as a consistent NHL goaltender.
Over the course of his first 4 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, he participated in a total of 14 games. It was really only in the 2005-06 campaign that he had a chance to show what he was capable of. He played a total of 67 games, recording 33 wins and 26 losses, a GAA of 2.94 and a SVP of 0.902%.
The following summer, interestingly enough, Alex Auld found himself going back to Florida, the team that originally drafted him, in the infamous trade that saw Roberto Luongo going to Vancouver and Todd Bertuzzi going to Florida. (Other players were involved in the trade.)
Auld only played 27 games with the Panthers and ended up signing with the Phoenix Coyotes the following season. This was the beginning of a 3-season journey, which had Auld visiting the Coyotes, the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars and New York Rangers.
Although Auld established respectable numbers in the 2008-09 season with Ottawa, actually, the best of his career, he never was able to establish himself as a number one goalie in the league. He has often been known as a big slow goalie that quickly drops to his knees and exposes the top portion of the net.
- Penalty Shot: 7 saves on 9 opportunities
- Shootouts: 10 wins and 15 losses
Poor Alex right? It does sound like I don’t have a lot of positive to say about him, and the truth is, I don’t. Maybe that’s what’s positive about the situation. Huh? Let me explain.
I was inspired to write this piece after listening to Arpon Basu on the team 990 radio station this morning with Nick Murdocco and Gary Whittaker. The discussion at one point touched on Habs fans and whether or not they would give Carey Price any breathing room next season should he for example let in a soft goal in one of the early games. In a joking manner, because I’m sure they meant no disrespect to Alex Auld, they said that should Price let in a bad goal, that the Bell Centre should simply put up a picture of Alex Auld on the big screen, and fans would realize they have nothing better to rely on.
Kind of harsh right? Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is that it’s true. Alex has proven over his career that he cannot carry the big load. It’s Carey Price’s net, pure and simple and it will be for the following 2 years. How he plays and conducts himself during those 2 years will determine the rest.
So who is Alex Auld? The answer is quite simple; Alex Auld is the Montreal Canadiens goaltender that you will be seeing a lot of next season, but unfortunately for him, it’s not on the ice that you’ll be seeing him.
Quick Notes on Alex Auld:
- 2004: Represented Canada at the Spengler Cup (3rd place)
- 2006: Represented Canada at the World Championships (4th place)
- Alex Auld Community Fan Page on Facebook: Click Here.
(Alex Auld photo credit: Getty)