If you think it's weird that Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore is letting in less than 3 goals per game in Colorado and stopping at least 9 shots out of 10, you're seriously not alone.
The former Hart and Vezina winner was dealt to the Avalanche 2 seasons ago by his hometown Montreal Canadiens, the same year he was made the richest goalie to ever tend goal by Canadiens GM Bob Gainey with a brand new 3-year/$17 million deal.
Theodore floundered in Montreal terribly, and posted mediocre numbers as the team continued its embarrassing downward slide in the standings.
With newly acquired goaltender Cristobal Huet pushing Theodore for playing time, the French media being all over him for his little Paris Hilton scandal, coach Claude Julien getting blamed for Theodore's paltry performance, costing him his job, and a newborn child on the way as well as problems related to his uncle's loansharking business, Jose Theodore was a troubled young man.
The icing on the cake came when Theodore broke his ankle by falling down the stairs in front of his home one morning in that January, putting him on the injured reserve for the rest of the season as well as sparking talk that his injury was purposely "done" for his terrible season to end, highlighted by a recent 8-2 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes that proved to be his last in the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge uniform.
At that point, it was doubtful rumours persisting that Gainey would unload Theodore and his huge contract would happen, but big G surprised us all once again.
While Huet rode the Habs net and Gainey coached his team up the standings behind the bench, Jose Theodore was a lost memory, and was written off for good the eve of the 2006 trade deadline, as he was surprisingly sent to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for equally struggling goaltender David Aebischer in a move many so called "experts" called the second coming of Patrick Roy in the Rocky Mountain state.
Gainey had successfully gotten rid of $17 million.
While Theodore tended to his injury down in Denver, Cristobal Huet carried the Canadiens to the playoffs and put up a strong performance in a series the Canadiens should have won against the eventual Stanley Cup Champs Hurricanes and in a series that dramatically saw a team fall apart as its captain did after a highstick to the orbital bone in Game 3 by Justin Williams.
That was evidently the turning point of the matchup that saw Carolina climb back from a 2-0 deficit, to beat the Canadiens in 6.
A few weeks later, the Avalanche and Jose Theodore took the plane home after losing in the Western semi-final in spectacular fashion to the San Jose Sharks.
In the month that followed, Cristobal Huet striked a new deal with the Canadiens, inking a 2-year/$5.75 million deal.
Theodore likely caused, however, then Avs GM Pierre Lacroix to resign, after wrongfully acquiring Theodore in a trade that still glares to this day in the hearts and salary cap of the Colorado Avalanche and their fans as a lopsided one.
The next season, Huet posted respectable numbers en route to a first career all-star selection while Theodore was just as bad as he had been in Montreal in a backup role to Peter Budaj.
Theodore earned the nickname of Jose "Threeofour" and was known to let in an inordinate number of goals on low shot totals (ex: 4 goals on 26 shots, 3 goals on 24 shots).
With new GM Francois Giguere manning the deck for Colorado, fans were itching for management to buy out the Quebecois goalie for his immense $5.5 million salary to be tossed out the window and forgotten.
This obviously did not happen and it is much easier said than done, as for Theodore to pass up that kind of money (knowing he likely won't ever get anything remotely close to that again) would be ridiculous.
The 2007-2008 season is just a month old, and Theodore is doing a lot more than he did in previous seasons with Colorado, pushing Peter Budaj for playing time in the Avs' goaltending tandem.
I'm trying to say this is a nice comeback, feel good story, but sorry, it's not.
The 31-year old netminder is 4-2-1 with a low GAA of 2.30 and a .920 SPCT%, both very remarkable results.
He is looking like the old Jose the Habs wished they could've had for the $17 million they invested in him at the time (actually, no, Huet rocks...and for his salary, he's a steal) and his play is looking less and less shaky, and more and more productive and confident.
It's only 7 games, I know, but (and I'm trying REAL hard to say this with a straight face) he needs to prove he can be brilliant over the course of one whole season, as you could argue that his last "great" year came in 2003-2004, in the last year of the pre-lockout era.
Formerly dubbed "The Franchise" by the Hockey news for the Canadiens, Theodore isn't quite there yet, but it's "nice" to see he's finally earning a fraction of his paycheck, at least for Avs fans.