Howard: Legend in the Making or Short-Lived Star?

The twenty-seven year old has been having a phenomenal season. With a league leading 28 wins, Howard has been mentioned to possibly be up for the Vezina Trophy and MVP this year. Even though Jim Howard has had a great season, is it possible Howard is just receiving his fifteen minutes of fame or is he a legend in the making?

Many have had conflicting opinions about the Red Wings goalie, but I have been a fan since day one. James “Jimmy” Russell Howard III has been passionate about his job as a goalie since the start. Jim has been a part of the game since he was a teen. When just 17, Howard played for the U.S. National Team Development Program. He played a total of 35 games, winning 22 of them. In 2002, he took his team to a Gold Medal in the IIHF World U18 Championships and was named USA goaltender of the year. Jim Howard then continued on a fast track to a 2003 NHL entry draft by the Wings while playing three years under the Maine Black Bears at the University of Maine.

The 2005 season is when Howard began playing for the Wings and the Grand Rapid Griffins. He played 38 games with the Griffins in his first season, winning 27 of them. Jim was occasionally called up to play for the Wings in the 2005-2006 season, then again in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 season. The 2008-2009 season was Howard’s last experience with the Griffins and would begin his first full season to play only for Detroit. The first two seasons Howard played, he played in 63 games. Howard only won 59 percent of his games, which instilled much hesitation and fear of Howard’s abilities for the fans of the Red Wings. Howard’s save percentage stayed above 90 percent, but it did not seem to be enough to win the NHL or win over the fans. Neither was the fact that Jim was the runner up for the Calder trophy after his rookie season. Most fans saw the playoffs as a little rocky as well for the new NHL goalie, with only winning between 5 and 7 games when playing 11 and 12 games total during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons. However, it seemed that Babcock was confident that Howard would turn into something, and Babcock was definitely right about that.

Everyone including non-hockey fans seem to know how solid Jimmy Howard has been this 2011-2012 season. Howard has been nothing under phenomenal all season, with a record of 28-10-1. Jim has had four of his ten career shutouts in this season so far. When Howard does lose, he doesn’t have a complete blowout which is evident in his 1.98 GAA. Even though Jim is busy at home with a new baby, he seems to be a rock in front of the net as the Wings primary goalie. The Bleacher Report has named him number seven among the top Detroit Red Wings goalies of all time, which seems as a deserving place after the way he has played this season so far.

What would you rank him, a legend or a short-lived star? It seems that Howard is going to be a Red Wing for some time; will he have your support?


Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

The way he's been playing isn't by chance. This isn't the most talented Wings team I've seen, and the days of the Wings outshooting opponents 55-10 are over. Howard keeps them in close games and he makes enormous saves that I haven't even seen Osgood/Hasek/Legace make. For once I'm not nervous about the goaltending situation (only when Conklin plays lol). The bottom line is you don't play amazing one year and lose it the next. So the answer to your question, at least from my perspective, if that Howard is for real and he will continue to be for a while.

A.K. Bennett's picture

Agreed with Kyle. Howard is the best Wings goalie since the last one with a last name starting with H. I love his attitude and fire, and I think most fans appreciate it. He's a gamer and is far more of an asset than many past goalies. His improved play is a big reason the Wings goals allowed total is down. If the Wings remain competitive for another decade and as starter he averages 35 wins per season he would end up between Belfour and Joseph on the all-time wins list.

In my opinion, I think he's not even at his prime yet and he has some of the best positioning in the league. He can make the big save and is a workhorse. Unfortunately he became a consistent starter far later than many other goalies but I think he has the tools and is with the correct franchise to work towards that legend title.

Rachel Bellono's picture

A.K. I think you would be surprised. I have argued with at least 10 people about Howard being a legend in the making. Many people still are not confident in him, which I do not understand. But, I totally agree with you... which is why I said "in the making". I think he has a lot of growing left to do and will become even better than he is. I am not nervous about Howard in the net at all, Kyle. I feel just as you do. He definitely saves their games night after night at times. I think he is a better goalie than Osgood by far and I like his attitude a lot better as well.

I think Howard has the right attitude and drive to become the best goalie the Wings have had. I am a full supporter of him and can't wait to see all the tricks he will continue to pull out.