Sometimes, even if you like someone, there comes a day when you have to look them in the eye and say, “It just didn’t work out.”
The lanky Finnish* netminder has stumbled through his second season in Tampa, and now, as we near the season’s end, it appears coach Jon Cooper is reluctant to use Lindback even in a relief role.
Starting goalie Ben Bishop is rumored to be nursing an injured hand/wrist that will require off-season attention, and is clearly fatigued. Yet Cooper winds him up and shoves him out on the ice night in, night out, while Lindback watches, night in, night out, from the bench.
It wasn’t always this way. There were better times. There were times when our hopes were high for Lindback. He rode into Tampa Bay to an uproarious welcome, like some mythological hero arriving to save a city in peril. The Lightning, remember, were desperate for goaltending. The pleasant dream that was Dwayne Roloson in 2011 turned into a nightmare by 2012. Lindback, with his impressive resume and his even more impressive scouting report, was supposed to be the goalie on which this team was built.
What happened? Too much happened. There were too many nights where the Lightning just needed one key save, just one, but Lindback failed to come up with it. And too many nights where Lindback played well, stood on his head you might say, but the Lightning just kept giving up chance after chance until finally one slipped through. Nights where maybe the Lightning would say: It’s not you, it’s me.
And then there was that night last year when the Lightning went to that party and had a few too many drinks and wound up trading for Ben Bishop. They said they were sorry, but it didn’t change the fact that it happened. Actions speak louder than words.
There’s no trust left in this relationship. The Lightning don’t trust Lindback to play well enough to keep them in games, and Lindback doesn’t trust the Lightning to come through when he does play well.
And I don’t think it can be corrected. Like I said: Too much happened.
I think the jury’s still out on Anders Lindback‘s career. He might yet become a legitimate NHL starting goalie. But the jury came in sometime last week on Lindback’s career as a backup in Tampa Bay. Despite the fact that the Lightning are a virtual lock for a playoff spot, and despite the fact that Ben Bishop can barely hold a stick, and sometimes appears to be moving through wet cement in his crease, Jon Cooper still refuses to play Anders Lindback. Even against the lowly New York Islanders. Even against Buffalo.
We threw him to the wolves against Pittsburgh, sure — we weren’t expecting to win that game anyway. But in those important back-to-backs games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators? …You get the idea.
It’s over. We just have to admit it’s over. We gave it a shot, we had the best of intentions, but it just didn’t work out. Lindback’s save percentage isn’t good enough for the Lightning and the Lightning’s goal support isn’t good enough for Lindback. They both have different wants and needs. It’s time to move on.
No hard feelings. We wish you luck.
*Correction: Thanks to commenter Caitie for pointing out Lindback is actually Swedish, not Finnish, as mistakenly stated in the article. Not sure what I was thinking.