I've heard the name Al Montoya since 2004, when he participated in the World Junior Championships of Hockey for Team USA. That year, they won the gold medal, beating out a STACKED Team Canada in the final. I watched him play then and said "this guy is something special". Low and behold, he gets chosen 6th overall in the NHL Entry Draft that year and seemingly was on his way to NHL stardom.
Now, I think many of us are a little spoiled with first round draft picks. We see the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin (loved that Ovechtrick commercial), Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, and so on, and we see guys who come right out of junior hockey and make an immediate impact. Well, not every player can pull that off. For every Stamkos, there's a Patrick Stefan, or an Alexandre Daigle, who in reality don't even make it to their potential, or as in this blogs case, Al Montoya, a fella with talent who doesn't get it correct right out of the gate.
The first thing that riddled this young feller's chance at the big time was that in general, Goalies do not develop into prime time players as fast as other positional players. The second was a fella by the name of Hendrick Lunquist. They came around the same time and he just developed a little quicker. Given that there was no room in the Rangers depth chart, Montoya was expendable and was traded to Phoenix. He toiled in the minors save for 5 games with Phoenix, where he had a respectable 3 win and 1 shutout in 5 games. Then, back to the minors.
Along came the Islanders with their Med squad of goalies (championed by Glass Jaw/ Hard Luck Rick Dipietro) and they find themselves needing a goalie so they wouldn't ruin the development of some of their younger players. Step in Garth Snow and a throw away 6th round draft pick and now Al Montoya gets the opportunity to step into the big time. He came in and finished up a game last week vs. Buffalo and seemed dependable enough, save for some rebound control issues (seemingly a common issue with the Islanders men in pads this year) and then Saturday night, came in and shut out a VERY hot Los Angeles Kings team.
Now, I dislike it when bloggers speak "directly" to players. But this is more wishful thinking than speaking to the player.
Please work out Mr. Montoya. I've been pulling for you for years now and my beloved sad sack Islanders are now giving you the chance you may have deserved a few years ago now. You got it in ya. I've seen you play. You got the goods, now go get em.
Best of luck in this tryout that Evgeni Nabokov has passed on. Show him and the rest of the world what you got in you.