Perhaps the most iconic moment of the final regular season game of the 2013-14 season was Teemu Selanne skating in the ring with former teammate J.S. Giguere of the Colorado Avalanche. Selanne, always coy, had nonetheless announced his retirement. Giguere had not, though it was expected as he’d heard from Colorado honchos that he wasn’t needed for the following season. Plus, Jiggy had been fighting injuries, especially a bad back.
Giguere is announcing his retirement this week. So, in honor of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, let’s look back at his career.
9 1/2 years with the Ducks
Jiggy joined the Ducks — then still the Mighty Ducks — in the summer of 2000 in a trade from the Calgary Flames. He started with the farm team, Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, but took a #2 role as Guy Hebert’s backup goalie. Since he played only intermittently for the Flames and Hartford Whalers, the 2000-01 season qualified as his rookie year.
During the 2002-03 season, he posted his first winning record — 34-22-6, even earning a career-high eight shutouts. That was good enough to enter the playoffs, where Jiggy took after idol Patrick Roy and became a clutch goalie. The Ducks went on a Cinderella run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Unfortunately, the New Jersey Devils rained on their parade that year, finishing the Ducks in seven. Nonetheless, Jiggy was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He also received the 2003 ESPY for best hockey player.
Anaheim hit a bumpy patch that lasted a few years — and included the 2004-05 NHL lockout. By the 2006-07 season, Jiggy and the Ducks were on a streak, though. He didn’t lose a game in regulation in October 2006. He earned a career-high 36 wins that season.
And then the magic really began. Jiggy and the Ducks marched through the 2007 playoffs. They trounced the Minnesota Wild 4-1, then ousted the Vancouver Canucks similarly, 4-1. The Detroit Red Wings managed to win two games but still fell 4-2. Anaheim decided they didn’t like playing six whole games and finished off the Ottawa Senators in five. And they lifted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.
In all, Jiggy played 447 regular season games with the Ducks and 52 playoff games. He compiled a record of 206-146-18/36 and recorded 33 shutouts. On January 31, 2010, the Ducks traded Giguere to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The other years
Jiggy got a slow start his first couple years, which had prompted the trade to Anaheim. On a side note, Giguere was the last remaining active NHL player who had suited up for the Hartford Whalers, for eight games in 1996-1997.
Jiggy’s injuries started wearing on him already in Anaheim when he suffered a groin strain early in the 2009-2010 season. Groin and back sprains would plague him for the rest of his career. While he started off strong with the Maple Leafs, recording two shutouts his first two games, the injuries forced hit to sit on the sidelines so often he eventually lost his starting position to goalie James Reimer.
Jiggy joined the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent in 2011. By now his role had transformed to that of veteran, and he took over mentoring starting goalie Semyon Varlamov. When 19-year-old Gabriel Landeskog became the youngest-ever NHL captain for the Avalanche, Jiggy took over mentoring him in leadership. Eventually he even mentored his replacement, new Colorado backup goalie Reto Berra:
“You could choose to be bitter and cranky, or you could choose to be a professional and enjoy the time you have left. I want to take it day to day and make the most of it. It’s not (Berra’s) fault, and it’s not my fault. It’s just the way it is. He’s a great guy, so I have nothing bad to say about him.”
Eventually, Jiggy realized a dream of his when he played for his onetime idol, Patrick Roy, during the 2013-14 season. The two had some rough patches, famously getting snappy with each other midway through the season. Jiggy also had some difficulty coming to terms with the Avalanche’s only acquisition at the trade deadline, a young goalie. He knew his time in Colorado was coming to an end, and he made peace with that. Ever the class act, he stated:
“I’ve been very lucky and had a career better than I ever thought I would.”
He also started hinting at retirement, which is what prompted another class act, Selanne, to take his hand for a final lap in Anaheim — a game Roy had him start as it proved to be the last of his career. Jiggy said of Selanne’s gesture:
“Teemu is such a class act … it just comes natural for him to do nice things for people. Everybody loves Teemu. I’ll be forever grateful for what he did. I almost felt guilty because I know this was his night. It was nice to share a bit of it.”
J.S. Giguere is set to announce his retirement on Thursday, August 21.
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