With veteran goalie Jason LaBarbera
now in the fold, the first thing that comes to my mind is the size of the tandem Grant Fuhr and the Coyotes coaching staff have to work with.
Both LaBarbera (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and Ilya Bryzgalov (6-3, 199) are imposing figures, leaving very little room for shooters to see any net.
LaBarbera has made a living combining a few terrific qualities, most notably he is a very hard-working person that endears himself to his teammates. I have said this many times. When your goalie has a great team-first attitude, the players want to battle for him. He will stay on the ice until the last player is off at practice, willing the puck to hit his large body.
A few years ago, LaBarbera got "stuck" in the minors while with the Los Angeles Kings. He could not be recalled, as he would have been plucked on "re-callable waivers" and the Kings didn't want to lose him, therefore he stayed in the American Hockey League, and was that league's best goalie.
He is fundamentally sound in net and has the proper mind-set to be a backup, as he was last season, watching one of the best in Roberto Luongo in Vancouver.
This is a good signing that appears to leave Josh Tordjman and Al Montoya on the outside looking in. I feel for both, as I have been there myself. This move will really test their confidence and self motivation, but as we all know, a spot in the NHL can be an injury away, or a hot streak in the minors.
Montoya played really well in his brief NHL stint at the end of last season with the Coyotes. He needs to visualize and capture his performance in the San Jose game as his standard. He proved he can stop the big boys.