The Ottawa Senators spent the past weekend on a bonding retreat in an attempt to bring together a roster that faced a great deal of upheaval in the off-season.
While it remains to be seen whether the team's search for chemistry will work, it appears as though the franchise's quest for a number one goaltender has reached its conclusion thanks to a finally healthy Pascal Leclaire.
Although Leclaire was acquired at the NHL trade deadline last season, due to ankle surgery, the 26-year did not see his first action with his new team until this pre-season. Since that time he has turned heads with his abilities.
"I'm very happy with Pascal," stated Senators' general manager Bryan Murray. "He is coming off a time where he had some injury problems and health problems. He's worked very hard this summer and has looked very good in the games this preseason."
Leclaire is just happy to be back on the ice after a nearly one year absence.
"To me the big thing was try to come back and feel comfortable," Leclaire said. "It was a long time without playing any games. I'm trying to use the exhibition games to get back in the groove. So far so good… but it's not perfect."
While Leclaire has looked stellar so far, the Sens are hoping that the injury issues that have plagued the Repentigny, Quebec native in his first six years in the league are a thing of the past. For a team that has had eight starting goaltenders since the turn of the century, it is a risk that they are willing to take.
"I wasn't here and I don't really care about what happened before," stated Leclaire. "They've had some real quality goalies here. Sometimes it's easy to blame goalie. You get used to it. Since you were 10 years old, you give up a bad goal you're a bad guy."
While the goaltending position is one known for the eccentricities of it's membership, Leclaire is a bit of an anomaly as his laid back nature is a far cry from the attitude of past Sens' netminders such as Ray Emery and Dominik Hasek.
"When the goalie is calm it has a positive effect on his teammates," Leclaire admitted.
That attitude will help Leclaire as he will face his share of doubters heading into the season. The doubters will just serve as further motivation as Leclaire searches for his first NHL victory since last November and attempts to lead the team back to respectability.