Former Halifax Mooseheads standout Pascal Leclaire could be Canada’s starting goaltender at the IIHF world championship, if his return from injury this week goes well.
The chances of the Columbus Blue Jackets stopper getting the nod increased exponentially yesterday when his NHL head coach, Ken Hitchock, was named Canada’s bench boss.
Leclaire has had a banner season as a fourth-year NHLer, but has been sidelined since mid-March with a concussion. He will return to action tomorrow against the Detroit Red Wings.
“We’re going to play him the last three games and hopefully he makes a great impression,” Hitchcock said. “We’re hopeful he continues to impress and gets a chance to be one of the goalies. Selfishly, I would like him to be picked.”
The 25-year-old has a league-leading nine shutouts, along with a 24-15-6-3 record and a stingy 2.22 goals-against average. None of the goalies on the nine teams currently eliminated from the NHL playoffs come close to Leclaire’s numbers.
“He’s had a heck of a year, he’s a great teammate, and hopefully he gets a crack at this,” Hitchcock said.
Leclaire spent three seasons in Halifax from 1998 to 2001.